LOWDOWN Summer 2014 page 25
The Basset Hound public
house (above) is the only
one I’ve discovered with this
name - it is in the Wirral (that’s
somewhere up north).
Apparently, it gets its name from Sir Ralph Basset, 2nd Baron of Drayton, who bred and hunted a pack of hounds.
He was born in 1279 and died around 1341. A bit of light research has not revealed an obvious connection with the north-west, his birthplace and ancestral home was near Tamworth, in Staffordshire.
He was knighted by the Prince of Wales who became the future, and rather disastrous, Edward II.
Sir Ralph was made Steward of the
Duchy of Aquitaine While there he
fought the French protecting English
interests and I wonder if this was when
he first came across the breed?
Later he was made Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports.
These were difficult and dangerous times in this country with rebellions and political upheaval and it does make one wonder exactly how much time he had to spend with his Basset Hounds.
However, when he did, I bet it made a nice change to hacking-up the French.
It’s offally good!
Winnie’s Wheelbarrow is
for all the ‘odds & sods’ -
orphaned snippets which do not
have a home elsewhere in
It takes its title from Winifred Burgess, who with her husband, Norman, owned a kennel of Basset Hounds in Ringmer, Near Lewes, East Sussex, back in the sixties.
Winnie was a well-known sight in the village, regularly spotted with her wheelbarrow collecting offal for the hounds from the nearby abattoir.
During the closed season, hunt supporters would exercise the hounds on Ashdown Forest at venues that the BHOC continues to use today.
It is interesting how this canine aspect of Sir Ralph’s life is remembered by the name of the pub, as the breed does not appear on his coat of arms (see below), so it begs the question: how did this detail about him survive?
A medieval image of a
low, all-white, Basset-like
hound - sometimes called
a Talbot Hound. This
image of one comes from
Haddon Hall in Derbyshire.
The Talbot Hound appeared on several families’ coats of arms and quite a few pub signs.
It is thought that the breed became extinct because of its reticence to hunt with any purpose.