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The legend of Fowlescombe Manor….

Fowlescombe Manor

It is a fact that in this modern age most of us frown upon the ancient practice of hunting with hounds, whether on horseback or not, but in times gone by, such things were commonplace and accepted. I’m not here to promote a debate on the rights and wrongs of hunting, but to mention a legend that I have just happened upon. It may be something that most of you know already, but it was new to me.

Fowlescombe Manor, near Ugborough in Devon, is now an ivy-covered 16th-century ruin, but its records go back to 1453, when a Sir Thomas Fowell, “a member of the king’s court” (Edward IV? Richard III? Or, horrors, Henry VII?) is recorded as being born at the manor. I have not found him anywhere, but the Fowell family was definitely associated with the manor, and a William Fowell (Fowhill) was born there in 1408. This means there must have been a house there prior to 1408, but how far back, I do not know. Anyway, my ramblings around the internet took me to this website, where I found the legend:-

“….A pack of hounds was kept at kennels at Fowlescombe for many years. It is said that a kennel-master used sometimes to keep the hounds hungry so that they would hunt well the following day, but that one night, when visiting his hounds which were making a lot of noise, he failed to wear his usual jacket, and was eaten by the hounds, only his boots being found the next morning….”

There is a song about the story here.

Such an awful fate serves the kennelmaster right, did I hear you say? Well, probably, but by now my interest in Fowlescombe Manor had unearthed more about the house. It is one of three in Devon that may have been Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Baskerville Hall. The others are Hayford Hall, west of Buckfastleigh, and Brook Manor, a few miles east of Hayford Hall. See more here.

There is another Baskerville-type legend attached to Brook Hall, and you can read it at here. This one, of course, is very much like the Sherlock Holmes legend of Baskerville Hall, and how the dreadful hound first came about.

One thing seems evident… when you’re in that neck of the woods, don’t upset any large canine you may encounter!

And on a lighter note:

Mr Fox’s Hunt Breakfast on Xmas Day (1900) by Harry B. Neilson

History isn’t “horrible”, it’s essential….!

Richard III – from ‘Horrible Histories’

“…Imagine knowing the entire list of British monarchs by heart at age 10. Imagine knowing about cavemen courting rituals or what soldiers ate during World War I. Imagine becoming so invested in the life of the infamous King Richard III of England that you joined the Richard III Society, a group dedicated to finding his bones and solving the mystery of what happened to his nephews over 500 years ago…”

The extract above is from this study breaks article which, as you might guess, is all about ‘Horrible Histories’!

It made me think, because I did know my English/British monarchs by the age of 10…by 8/9 in fact. There was a chart on my bedroom wall and it faced me when I sat up in bed. I noticed Richard III even then, because he was so different from the rest. Slender, dark-haired, troubled…or so it seemed to me. The other kings/queens seemed more or less expressionless (except for Henry VII, who looked out of the chart in that rather crafty, sideways manner we know and love so well!)

A present-day friend tells me: “There was a frieze over my classroom door { at the same age} with them all on from Alfred, including the years. I did the research and writing, although none of us could reach where it was placed.”

There’s no doubt that history lessons used to entail knowing our stuff. Nowadays, it seems, they’re taught that the world didn’t exist before World War I. Medieval? What the heck is that? So, the likes of ‘Horrible Histories’ are to be welcomed, because they introduce modern children to the past. It’s their past, after all. They should know how their country developed to become what it is today…and realise that it wasn’t a process that came into being magically in the year 1900!

PS: And if help is needed to remember history and its facts, then there’s nothing better than a good song. So try this one.

Autumn Rain

Here is the Legendary Ten Seconds‘ song “Autumn Rain”, about the Buckingham rebellion, which failed amid the wet weather in 1483.

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