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The Eden Family and Windlestone Hall.

Every now and again a hunt button will turn up that is not only new to us all, but that pushes our knowledge of the history of hunting back several generations.

Probably the best known member of the Eden family of Windlestone Hall in Rushyford, County Durham is Sir Anthony Eden (later Lord Avon), one-time Prime Minister, and yet his father, Sir William Eden is equally well-known in hunting circles.

Sir William Eden MFH

Sir William Eden was a famous hunting man, listed as keeping a private pack at Windlestone around the late 1880s, and also as Master of the ‘Durham Hunt‘ (sic).  This may have been the Durham County, prior to the North/South division.  Whilst the Durham County Hunt button is known (see below), as yet a hunt button for Sir William’s private pack has not been identified.  In 1887, Windlestone was known as being one of the best coursing grounds in the North of England.


The Eden family had owned Windlestone Hall since the 17th Century, and were Royalists during the Cromwellian Civil War.  The house was remodelled in 1821, replacing the original 16th Century manor house.  One can assume that some form of hunting took place over Windlestone land from the 1500s onward, be it stag, hare or fox; but until very recently there was no evidence of a hunt livery or button being used there.

That’s where the button below comes in:


This fabulous solid silver button came to light only a matter of two weeks or so ago.  It bears the Eden family crest, and is hallmarked for a maker whom first used a personal maker’s mark from 1758, until being succeeded by his son in 1777.  The mark on this button is his earliest version, giving collectors and historians a ‘marker’ for organised hunting over a full century before Sir William’s pack, back to the reign of King George II and to a time before the house was remodelled.

One can only imagine the coat on which these were worn.


UPDATE:  I can amend the above by stating that Sir William was not Master of the Durham County Hunt, but of the South Durham.  1877 – 1880 and 1885 – 1890.  The hunt button at that time was the elegant one below.


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