The Old Grey Southern Hounds
I wrote this song after hearing that Bill Pattenden of Spicers Farm, was the last survivor of those who had ran with the ancient Charlwood pack of old southern hounds, The pack was believed to have dated back to Saxon times but was disbanded, for unknown reasons in the 1860’s. In an interview, just before the Second World War, Bill had recalled that throughout its long existence the pack had chased only the hare and only on foot. The men who ran with the pack carried leaping poles to help them negotiate the deep ditches, streams and ghylls around the village and the pack were said to have ‘hunted under the pole’. This meant that the hounds responded to signals given by the huntsman’s pole. This device was used to slow the dogs down and to abandon the chase to allow the hare to run free, The hounds lived in separate farms and were summoned to meet by the huntsman’s horn as he walked around the village prior to the start of the event.
Colin has written two books on Charlwood and they are both absolutely fascinating with vivid details of the characters and images of Charlwood village. The first one is titled ‘Tales From Beyond The Village Pump’ and features many photographs of Charlwood and the second one is ‘Another Wet Saturday’. This contains many of Colin’s poems, some most suitable to have tunes written for them to become songs, and also filled with Colin’s brilliant illustrations of Charlwood. Both deserve a place in your library.
These are available through Stanford Publishing
THE OLD GREY SOUTHERN HOUNDS. Written by Colin Gates.
He blew his horn so loud and clear the Autumn day to greet
And all the Old Grey Southern Hounds came from their homes to meet
The huntsmen came with joyful shout and leaping poles to gather there
To search the country round about and find the young Jack Hare.
They ran through barley and through corn and yellow gorse and heather
Through the misty light of dawn we thought they’d run forever.
We crossed the ghyll at Stepping Stones and the Old Grey Southern Hounds
Turned Jack out at Stumble Hole their noses to the ground
On crazy run Jack Hare then went around the Stone Pit field
But the hounds would never leave the scent nor would they flag nor yield.
The hare led them a merry chase until the moon was seen
High above the cider mill by those men in green
From Hound House Farm to Stickle Mead and down to Guzzle Shaw
But the lord and squire had decreed the hounds should run no more.
The Leaping Pole at Willards Hill let young Jack Hare away
Through the valley woods and field to run another day
The horn was silent in the lane and sadly homeward bound
For we knew we would not run again with the Old Grey Southern Hounds.