A Fox in the Post Office. From The Berwick Advertiser April 1979 reprinted from 1879.

100 years ago

On Saturday the Northumberland and Berwickshire foxhounds met at Milfield Hill, the residence of G. A. Grey, Esq., and a very large number of ladies and gentlemen were present. After refreshments served in their usual liberal form, a move was made to a narrow plantation running parallel with a road known as the "Common Lane." A fox at once started away southward, but scarcely a mile had been covered when he turned to the north, then headed east, running between Milfield and Milfield Hill towards the River Till. After crossing the main road, he quickly retraced his steps westward, nearly meeting the hounds, and closely skirting the north and west side of Milfield and taking refuge in the garden attached to the Post Office. The protection afforded by the ivy-covered garden chair was of short duration; the hounds quickly roused him from his rest, and by a desperate struggle he made his way down the garden through the army of dogs —which were closing him in on all sides—and entered the premises of the Post Office by the back door — which, with the front entrance, had in the meantime been opened — scarcely a foot in front of the dogs. Winding his way through the Post Office by the clear courses quickly made for him, he passed out at the front, closely followed and severely pressed by the dogs. Crossing the road, he entered a cottage, the door of which was open. The postmaster, John Clark, was the only man present to enter the cottage. Closing the door behind him, he witnessed a scene simply indescribable. The dogs were savagely jolting about, articles of furniture were knocked down in all directions, and crockery got into grievous trouble. Under a bed was the fox and as many dogs as could manage to force their way. The postmaster, reaching under the bed with his hand, caught the fox by the foot, pulling him out as he gave the last struggle and died. All was over, and several minutes elapsed ere the huntsman or any of the riders reached the scene. On their arrival, however, the extraordinary affair created an immense interest, and was energetically discussed by the great number of gentlemen present. The postmaster, J. Clark, being the only person at the death in the cottage, the "brush" was kindly handed to him by the huntsman. After an interval another fox was sought and found. A long and severe run resulted in a second kill, which finished the day's work.

George Annett Grey and George Grey: Hunting Articles. From Milfield Scrapbooks.
Left: George Grey carrying his hunting horn outside Milfield Hill. Below: A studio photograph that has been tinted.
For more on Hunting see George's diary and C.W. Dixon-Johnson's diary.

The George Grey Testimonial (Unknown date after 1884)

In our ancient borough on Tuesday afternoon a pleasing ceremony was gratefully performed with habitual suavity of manner which distinguishes him, by Mr Watson Askew of Pallinsburn , in presence of about thirty gentlemen interested in the glorious art of foxhunting. It was the presentation of a massive and exquisitely beautiful gold hunting watch and chain by Messers Dent of London, the former which bore the following inscription: presented to George Grey by friends and supporters of the Glendale hunt in appreciation of the excellent sport he showed in1880-84, whilst huntsman to his father. Also a silver hunting horn, and an illuminated address on parchment bearing the names of about eighty subscribers. The company assembled in the King’s Arms Hotel, where an elegant luncheon was provided. Mr and Mrs Carr, Mr Askew in the chair than whom no more popular landowner exits in North Northumberland.The Vice chair was filled by Mr James R. Black, Cheswick, a substantial tenant farmer, man of extensive agricultural knowledge. a bold rider to hounds in former years a keen preserver of foxes then as now. The Hon Secretary announced the receipt of letters apology regretting the unavoidable absence of Lieut Colonel Milne -Holme MP., engaged in welcoming his political chief to that majestic city “The grey. metropolis of the North”; from the ex master of the Glendale hounds who carries the sympathies of every border sportsman, from Mr T Tate of Allerburn House Alnwick and others. The usual loyal toasts having been given from the chair, and patriotically received Mr Askew proceeded to the business of the day. He said-

Mr George Grey and gentlemen I have now a very agreeable and pleasant duty to perform and that is to present you Sir in the name of us assembled around this table in your honour, as well as of many absent friends, whose name you will find engrossed upon this parchment, this watch and chain and hunting horn as some recognition of the talents that you have shown as huntsman, and as an assurance to you of our appreciation and of your courtesy and kindliness to everyone in the hunting field, and of that sportsmanlike conduct that you always shew- sportsmanship which seems.to be the natural heritage of every child of that most distinguished disciple of Nimrod the late master of the Glendale Hounds. . The task you undertook Sir four years ago was no light one. To the outside world it would appear that you had no great experience in hunting hounds, and that you were likely to undertake a task in which you would possibly not be successful. We all know that it is the lot of very many promising professional men who have spent their lives possibly as second and first whips, when they began their career as huntsman, even with a thoroughly good pack of hounds that have probably hunted together for generations, they too frequently fail. As I said before Sir the outside world that you had had no great experience in hunting hounds, but you have with a pack of hounds composed of drafts from all parts of the county, shewn for four years most unexampled sport. If had only been for one season, some people might naturally have said that the season was greatly in your favour, but for a succession of four seasons, depend upon it there is no luck in the matter. It shows a great deal of talent on your part and I would like in consequence to look at the circumstances of the case, how it is that you have shown such marvellous sport. I would like to allude to this, because possibly of our many young friends may think it much easier to hunt a pack of hounds than many of us know is really the case. You began to hunt from your earliest childhood, and my impression is that you not only hunted in the ordinary acceptation of the word,, but learned the science as well, and you learned your work as perfectly as a looker on, as any professional huntsman who works his way up though the various gradations of his profession. I am only too glad to take this opportunity of thanking you before this company for the many valuable services you rendered to me years ago… and when I was hunting this country. Many a good run have you saved by the judicious way in which you assisted the men. Some , we know, only make matters worse, but you always did render most valuable assistance, never doing that which was wrong, and always turning hounds in the right direction. And I am moreover able to say that Sir John Majoribanks appreciated most thoroughly the assistance that you, on many occasions gave him. I remember one morning Sir John coming to Pallinsburn, and telling me of a splendid run the hounds had had. I think it was from Earl Whin to Downham. His men’s horses had I think given in, and he told that on two or three different occasions, but for your aid, the run would have terminated much sooner, and but for your invaluable assistance at the critical moment the fox would not have been killed. I mention this because it shews that you have been from your earliest childhood studying that noble sport, and I attribute that sport you have been showing to that calmness combined with…. tact and to that great decision and quickness which gives these hounds confidence, perfect confidence in you, and you are always ready at the critical moment to give them the greatest aid and assistance. Long long may the range of the Cheviots and the valley of the Tweed re-echo to the sound of this horn. (Applause) Often and often may those woodlands at Kyloe and that gorse at Wark tell their tales of may a glorious run (applause) and as years roll by, and in the future that I hope will be a long and happy one to you, may this roll containing these names and these articles remind you of friends, remind you of familiar faces and remind you of many a cheery face that has preceded you across “ the bourne from which no traveller returns” Long long may you live to enjoy the friendship and esteem of your neighbours, long may you live to shew the sport in this sporting country, and long long may you earn the inestimable pleasure of knowing that you live and posses the confidence, the respect the esteem of all. (Applause) In the names of the gentleman whose names are inscribed on this parchment I beg to present you with this watch and chain and hunting horn. ( Loud and enthusiastic cheering and the singing of “He is a jolly good fellow” and “John Peel”)

MR GEORGE GREY- Mr Askew and gentlemen: Should words fail me duly to express in appropriate terms the honour you have done me, I hope you all look leniently on my short comings and believe that however inadequately I express my thoughts, I thank you none the less sincerely for the present you have made me and the kind way in which Mr Askew has presented it. I assure you, gentleman, that I am very proud to know that my services as huntsman have met with your approval. I can honestly say that I have tried, and tried very hard, to provide such sport for you, as the country would allow. And now at the commencement of another year, when I shall again carry the horn, this time for Mr Lambton, I will still do my utmost to provide you with sport and I can only trust that I may be successful, and so again in a slight measure thank you. I am afraid that I cannot lay claim to being such an adept as Mr Askew would kindly say I am, but as he truly says ever since I was a small boy I cared more for hunting than riding. By that I mean I have always been a hunting man, not a riding man. I trust that we will may times meet together at the covert side and enjoy many a good gallop together. And when the time comes for me to lay my horn aside, these will remind me of your well-known faces and of the many happy hours we have spent in the hunting field together. I feel how inadequate my thanks are the honour you have done me, and I can only say be way of conclusion in the words of Shakespeare” I can no other answer make but Thanks thanks and ever thanks” (Long applause) Mr G Rea, Middleton proposed the health of Mr. G.A. Grey and Mr. G. Grey in the absence of his father replied. Mr Smith Jr Melkington proposed the health of the Hon. F W Lambton, the present master of the Glendale Hounds. Mr. Lumsden West Learmouth, proposed the health of Mr Nicholson secretary who replied. At this stage Mr AL Miller sang “Drink Puppy Drink” Mr S Sanderson Berwick proposed the health of the chairman who replied. The proceedings then terminated. We have been obliged to curtail this report owing to the late hour at which we received it last night.

George subsequently lost this gold watch while gardening at Milfield Hill.