From the Spring issue of My Countryside Magazine, Polly Portwin reviews 'Tales of Olden Glories' by Neil Salisbury
Reading habits, along with an increased interest in personal fitness and home improvements, have been some of the most noticeable lifestyle changes seen during lockdown, with people enjoying more free time than usual. Having vowed for years to read more, it's still something I find I feel guilty doing because there always seems to be something else that should be done rather than relaxing and leafing through the pages of a book.
Neil Salisbury's latest book about Cumbrian hunting, Tales of Olden Glories, is so absorbing that, thankfully, any guilty feeling is soon overridden and replaced by wonderment, imagining watching and following hounds during those halcyon days. Laced with incredible tales and accompanied by some iconic images from the 1800s, it's hard not to draw comparisons with hunting with hounds today. It's clear that some things in hunting never change, such as the mention of sheep worrying by dogs which sadly is still a problem, however it's unlikely that an announcement would be put in the local paper in the present day to declare that rumours of an impending amalgamation between two packs - the mention of which had sent subscribers cranky- were completely unfounded. Detailed reports, including tales of epic hunts, give the reader a real flavour for how the area has been a centre for hunting activities through the ages.
Not to be missed is the fold-out map inside the back cover which shows the packs of Cumberland, Westmorland & Lancashire, North of the Sands from the 18th century to the present day. Sadly, a large number of the former foxhound, harrier, beagle and other packs marked on the map - many of which have been referenced in the book - have been "lost", although some have evolved, with the names of some still being evident in the present-day packs.
It is not surprising that the book took the author, who is the secretary of the Central Committee of Fell Packs, two years to compile. Having previously produced a similar book of the first 100 years of the Coniston Foxhounds in aid of the hunt, there were high expectations for his latest publication, with hundreds of subscribers supporting the project in advance and having their names published at the back of the book in recognition of their faith in Neil to deliver. As promised, donations to all the Cumbrian hunts have already been made from initial sales of the book with further contributions promised if sales progress."