Devon and Somerset Staghounds

Prosperity to Staghunting, badge of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds

The deer of Exmoor have been hunted since Norman times, when Exmoor was declared a Royal Forest. Collyns stated the earliest actual record of a pack of staghounds on Exmoor was 1598. In 1803 the "North Devon Staghounds" became a subscription pack. In 1824/5 30 couples of hounds, the last of the true staghounds, were sold to a baron in Germany.[1] Today, the Devon and Somerset is one of three staghounds packs in the UK, the others being the Quantock Staghounds and the Tiverton Staghounds. All packs hunt within Devon and Somerset. The Chairman in 2016 is Tom Yandle, High Sheriff of Somerset in 1999.


The approximate dates of the hunting season are:

List of masters

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Edward II Dyke (d. 1746), portrait circa 1741 attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–1779), National Trust, Collection of Dunster Castle
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Baronet (1723–1785) painted in 1767 by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The bloodline of the large staghound with its head on his knee was lost when the pack was sold to Germany in 1824, and later rebuilt from foxhounds. Two identical versions exist, both owned by the National Trust, one at Saltram House, the other at Killerton House, both in Devon
"This noble chase being ended, my master, his brother and Mr Brutton with about 20 gentlemen more waited on Sir Thomas Acland at Pixton where each of them drank the health of the stag in a full quart glass of claret placed in the stag's mouth & after drinking several proper healths they went in good order to their respective beds about 2 o'clock and dined with Sir Thomas the next day on a haunch of the noble creature and about 50 dishes of the greatest rarities among which were several black grouse".

He returned briefly as joint-master in August 1784, but died in February 1785 aged 63[15]

North Devon Staghounds

Stalls in stable block built by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 9th Baronet (1752–1794) at Holnicote, now owned by the National Trust. The thirty stag heads on the walls date from about 1787 to 1793 and were killed under his mastership of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds. Some of the brow points of the antlers were notoriously sawn-off by a groom because they interfered with the loading of hay into the mangers.[21] A similar collection of stag heads amassed by his father the 7th Baronet, and much beloved by the latter, was destroyed during a fire at Holnicote in 1779[22]
Loose boxes in stable block built by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 9th Baronet (1752–1794) at Holnicote, with his stag head trophies

Chichester's Hounds

Devon and Somerset Staghounds

"The General". Mordaunt Fenwick-Bisset, MP, (1825–1884), Master 1855-1881, as caricatured by Spy in Vanity Fair, December 1881. He built the present kennels in Exford in 1876 and donated them to the Committee
Portrait of Mordaunt Fenwick-Bisset, MSH, on his favourite hunter Chanticleer, with a stag at bay in Badgworthy Water, Exmoor, by Samuel John Carter, 1871
Viscount Ebrington, from 1905 Hugh Fortescue, 4th Earl Fortescue (1854–1932). Engraving by Joseph Brown from a photograph by John Mayall. He acquired the whole of the former Royal Forest of Exmoor after the death of Frederick Winn Knight in 1897
"The Devon and Somerset", caricature of Viscount Ebrington by Ape, Vanity Fair 19th February 1887
Charles Henry Basset, MSH 1887-1893. Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, no. 380, October 1891, vol. 56

[35][36][37] He introduced Spring staghunting.

Robert Arthur Sanders MSH 1895-1907 (Baron Bayford from 1929). Portrait from Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, no 475, September 1899, vol. 72
Colonel Walter William Wiggin (1856–1936), Queen's Own Worcestershire Yeomanry, Master of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds c. 1917–1936, of Forhill House, King's Norton, photograph published in Baily's Magazine, no. 720, February 1920, vol. 113

List of huntsmen

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.



Further reading

External links


  1. Collyns, p.14
  2. Collyns, p.63
  3. Scarth-Dixon, William, p.16
  4. Fortescue, 1887, p. 284
  5. Lysons, Magna Britannia, Vol 6: Devon, 1822, pp. 226–231, Gentlemen's seats, forests and deer parks : "Red deer, ferœ naturœ, the remains of the inhabitants of the royal forest of Exmoor, still abound in sufficient quantities in the Devonshire woods, south of the forest, as well as in those of Somersetshire, to yield sport to the neighbouring nobility and gentry. A stag hunt has been for many years kept up in this vicinity. The hounds were formerly kept by Mr. Dyke, of Somersetshire, whose heiress married Sir Thomas Acland's grandfather, and afterwards by the Aclands. After the death of the late Sir Thomas Acland, they were kept for a while by Mr. Basset. After this, they were kept for several years by Lord Fortescue, at Castlehill, who, about three years ago, made them over to R. Lucas, Esq., of Baronshill, in Somersetshire. The average number of deer killed in a season has been about 10 stags, and about double that number of hinds. (fn. 3) Marshall, in his "Rural Œconomy of the Western Counties," observes, that wild deer abounded in the woods of the west of Devon; but that through the good offices of the Duke of Bedford, the country was then (about 1795) nearly free from them."
  6. Acland, Anne, A Devon Family: The Story of the Aclands, London and Chichester, 1981, pp.17-18
  7. Acland, 1981, pp.18,22
  8. Collyns, p. 9
  9. Ravenhill, Mary & Rowe, Margery, The Acland Family: Maps and Surveys 1720-1840, Devon & Cornwall Record Society, New Series, Vol. 49, Exeter, 2006, p. 8
  10. Acland, 1981, p. 25
  11. Acland, 1981, p. 26
  12. Acland, 1981, p. 18
  13. Acland, 1981, p. 19
  14. Acland, 1981, p9.18-19
  15. Acland, 1981, p.26
  16. 1775-1784 "Colonel Basset", per Bailey's Hunting Directory
  17. Not to be confused with his Cornish cousin Francis Basset, 1st Baron de Dunstanville and Basset (1757–1835), who is stated by his History of Parliament biography to have been Lieutenant-Colonel of the North Devon Militia from 1779.(History of Parliament biography) He would however have been only 18 years old in 1775, when this mastership was said to have started, and was known to have attended King's College, Cambridge in 1775 and then to have gone on the Grand Tour. He served as MP for Penryn, Cornwall, between 1780 and 1796. He was created a baronet in 1779 and a baron in 1796. He died without male issue
  18. Walrond, Col. H., (4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment), Historical Records of the 1st Devon Militia (4th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment), with a notice of the 2nd and North Devon Militia Regiments, London, 1897, pp.423-433
  19. Devon Record Office, ref 564M/F11/7, published in Gray, Todd & Rowe, Margery (Eds.), Travels in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete, 1789-1800, vol.3, Tiverton, 1999, pp.95-6
  20. Acland, Anne, 1981, p.27
  21. Acland, Anne. A Devon Family: The Story of the Aclands. London and Chichester: Phillimore, 1981, p.25
  22. Acland, 1981, p27
  23. Walrond, pp.423-433
  24. MacDermot, p.41
  25. Somerset Archives DD\COL/8 1775-1837: Hunting diary of Revd. J.B. of Hawkridge and Withypool 1775-1819 with illustrations of stag heads and account of the formation of Devon and Somerset Subscription Stag Hounds, 1837. Interleaved with many papers incl. names of hounds in the packs of Mr. Bassett (1780). Sir Thos. Acland (1790), Mr. Worth (1808), Ld. Fortescue (1802), Col. Bassett (1798). Printed list of subscribers and resolutions at a staghunt meeting at Exeter, 1822
  26. Biography of Collyns of Dulverton, Victoria County History, Exmoor,
  27. Somerset Archives DD\COL MSS Collyns of Dulverton
  28. Axe, Matthew, Chapman, Lesley & Miller, Sharon. The Lost Houses of Eggesford, Eggesford, 1995, pp.18-21
  29. Watson
  30. Yandle, Tom. Reminiscences, Exmoor Oral History Archive 2001
  31. Bailys Magazine
  32. Lethbridge, Richard, MBE, The Barnstaple Staghounds, Bideford, 2004, pp.7-8
  33. London Gazette, 15 October 1880, p.5285
  34. Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. Armorial families: a Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour
  35. Everard, P., p.31
  36. said (erroneously) to have been the grandson of "Colonel Basset", Master 1775-1784, the above two possible identities for whom however had no male progeny, making such relationship impossible. (Lee, Author Rawdon Briggs, A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland (Sporting Division), 1897)
  37. Everard, P., p.126
  38. Evered, Philip. Staghunting with the Devon and Somerset, An Account of the Chase of the Wild Red Deer, 1902
  39. Ball, Richard Francis. The Essex Foxhounds, with Notes upon Hunting in Essex, p.284
  40. 1 2 Everard, p.32
  41. Everard, P., p.127
  42. Bailys Magazine, no.475, Sept 1899, vol.72, biography pp.157-159
  43. The London Gazette: no. 28579. p. 979. 9 February 1912.
  44. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31712. p. 2. 30 December 1919.
  45. The London Gazette: no. 33510. p. 4268. 28 June 1929.
  46. Robert Arthur Sanders, 1st and last Baron Bayford
  48. Victoria County History, Somerset, Volume 6: Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds, 1992, pp.158-162
  49. Watson, J.N.P., In Pursuit of the Quantocks Deer: A Spring Hunting Visit (II)
  50. 1 2 3 Macdermott, p.22
  52. The War Graves Photographic Project
  53. Exmoor Oral History Archive
  54. twgpp
  57. London Gazette, 11 April 1916, p. 3847
  58. Fenton, Roy. Cornish Steam-Ships and Owners: the View from England, published in "Troze", the Journal of the National Maritime Museum of Cornwall, Vol. 1, No.3, March 2009
  59. The Times, 10 November 1936, p. 19
  60. E.R.Lloyd, Exmoor Oral History Archive
  61. King-Fretts, Paddy, Staghunter: The Remarkable Story of Ernest Bawden, Tiverton, 2005; See also: Edwards, Lionel, Huntsmen Past and Present, 1929
  62. See images []; Watson, J.N.P., Lionel Edwards Master of the Sporting Scene, London, 1986, pp.26,28,72
  63. Bourne, p.92
  64. Collyns, p.70
  65. Everard, P., p.36
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