Earthstoppers’ Dinner at Bicester

People Jun 20, 2023

Originally published in the Bicester Herald, 5th May 1911.

The annual dinner to the earthstoppers and keepers in the Bicester country of the Bicester and Warden Hill Hunt was held at the King’s Arms Hotel, Bicester, on Wednesday, when a most enjoyable time was spent. Mr W. Horwood presided, whilst the popular huntsman, Mr C. Cox, occupied the vice-chair. Others present included: Messrs. D. Jackson (Claydon), Jones (Weston), C. Stonebridge, J. Bolton (Middleton Stoney), S. Adams (Somerton), Griffin (Barnard’s Green), G. Masters (Dorton), Westbury (Aynho), Brain (Bicester), Thomas Small (Cuddington), R. Copp (Wootton), Lupton (Stoke Lyne), J. Hudson (Caversfield), Ridgway (Tingewick), Newman (Lenborough), Quainton (Claydon), Carter (Claydon), Claydon (Kirtlington), Spencer (Bucknell), Walby (Tusmore), Southam (Fleet Marston), Chambers (Hillesden), J.H. Wareing (Shellswell), Skaman (Winchendon), Cross (Marsh Gibbon), Ford (Evenley), Golding (Stratton Audley), Franklin (Waterperry), Tyrell (Kingswood), Jos. Wakeman (Grendon Underwood), J. Woodford (Cuddington), Roads (Claydon), Srar (Steeple Claydon), Honor (Preston Bissett), Pettigrew (Studley Priory), Perrin (Ardley), Watts (Ham Green), Wood (Waddesdon), Cherry (Chetwode), Beattie (Ashendon), King (Poundon), D. White, H. White (Boarstall), Howe (Bletchingdon), Wilkins (Arncott), Justice (Edgcott), Mole, Cook, Uff (Quainton), A. Rolfe (Brill), Dwyer (Chilton), G. Taylor (Hinton-in-the-Hedges), G. Valentine (Boarstall), etc.
The loyal toast was given from the chair, and was cordially received.
The Chairman said the toast he now had to propose was a very easy one, as he was sure everyone in that room would back him up, for it was the toast of the Master of the Bicester Hounds. (Applause.) Mr Lonsdale had been with them many years now, and no matter where he saw any of them he knew them. Their noble Master was a sportsman, and had the best title in the world – that of an English gentleman. – The toast was drunk with musical honours, and cheers were added for Mrs and Miss Lonsdale.
Mr Cox replied to the last toast, and read the following letter from the Master: “At the end of another season I am very pleased once more to welcome you all to the earthstoppers’ dinner, and at the same time to thank you for the satisfactory way the earthstopping has been done during the past year. We have just finished a very good season – sport has been good, and a fair lot of foxes have been killed, which shows that the stopping must have been done well. A certain number of foxes have, of course, gone to ground, but this cannot be altogether avoided, and I do not think that we have run more foxes to ground this year than usual, nor more than one would expect in a country of this sort, where there are many places very difficult to keep foxes out of. Thanking you all once more for what you have done in the past, and hoping that you will continue to carry out the earthstopping in this country in the same satisfactory way, so as to further the sport of hunting, and I could also ask you particularly when the hunting season comes round once more to keep an eye upon any rabbit holes or places in fences which may be used from time to time by foxes, and keep them permanently stopped, and also to stop any drains which are large enough for a fox to get up.”
Song – Hunting Song – Mr Stoor.
Mr Jackson proposed the health of the worthy huntsman, and said it needed few words to introduce that toast, for they all knew Mr Cox as well as he did. He was always pleased to see them, and his manner was on all occasions most civil. He appealed to all the earthstoppers and keepers to do their duty, for there was not a better lot of hunting gentleman in England. He hoped Mr Cox would live to hunt the Bicester Hounds after he (the speaker) was gone, and that when the young ones took the old one’s places they would always do their duty. – Musical honours.
Mr Cox briefly responded to the last toast.
Song – Hearts of Oak – Mr Ford.
Song – Ship Ahoy – Mr B. Lake.
Song – Barleycorn – Mr J. Herring.
Mr Copp submitted the health of the Chairman, and first said they were sorry to lose their late chairman, Mr Roots. He had known Mr Horwood for a good many years, and found him a true sportsman. He hoped Mr Horwood would preside over that gathering for many years. – Musical honours.
Song – The Look of Hair – Mr Franklin.
The Chairman said it was a very great pleasure to respond to their good wishes, and said the big fellow in the little red car had always been treated with civility by any keeper he met. Through physical disability he was not able to do so much as he used to, but he would always uphold sport as long as he had any breath left in his body. The Chairman then concluded with some witty remarks respecting various keepers he had met.
Song – La-da-diddly-um – Mr Stoor.
Song – Rosie O’Grady – Mr Wakefield.
Song – she Cost Me Seven-and-Sixpence – The Chairman.
Song – In the Old Log Cabin in the Dell – Mr Franklin.
Song – My Father’s Picture – Mr Ford.
Song – Just Before the Battle, Mother – Mr Rolfe.
The toast of “The Press" was given from the Chair, and responded to by our representative.
Song – A Soldier and a Man – Mr E.A. Clifton.
Song – Just Break the News to Mother – Mr Ford.
Song – The Navy – Mr Rolfe.
The toast of the Host and Hostess was given by Mr Jackson, received with musical honours, and responded to by Mr Bonner.