A second edition of the Anecdotes and History of Cranbourn…

CHAFIN, William (1733-1818).

A second edition of the Anecdotes and History of Cranbourn Chase. By William Chafin, Clerk. With additions, and a Continuation of the said History to some Extent. To which are added, some scenes in, and anecdotes of, Windsor Forest; by the same Author. London, J. Nichols and Bentley, 1818.

Second Edition. 8vo (216 x 129 mm), engraved frontispiece and pp. [ii], 1-2, 103, occasional light spotting in the text and pencil markings, in contemporary straight-grained tan calf, single gilt filet to covers, spine simply gilt in compartments with black morocco label lettered in gilt, some light wear to extremities and a few tears to the front board with surface loss, with a contemporary autograph letter about Cranborne Chase loosely inserted.

An expanded edition of this posthumously published guide to the hunting grounds of Cranborne Chase, near Shaftesbury, written by a Church of England clergyman, William Chafin. First published earlier in 1818, the work includes a lively account of Wiltshire estate management, hunting, poaching and ‘rural amusements’, with sketches of gamekeepers, tips on how to control poachers and some very lively accounts of bloody encounters between the keepers and deer thieves. Chafin sketches a history of the various forms of hunting practised in the Chase - deer, foxes, hares and martin-cats - and describes the packs of fox-hounds from their early establishment in about 1730. Hawking is discussed as an early pursuit ‘followed by the gentry of the country at great expense’ and so fashionable that ‘no gentleman could be completely dressed for company without having a glove on his left hand, and a hawk sitting on it’. Similarly, Chafin describes the historic prevalence of cock-fighting, which has died out as it is ‘deemed to be barbarous and cruel’. Chafin takes issue with this sentiment, deeming cock-fighting to be less cruel than Horse-racing ‘in which poor animals are involuntarily forced, against their nature, to performances beyond their strength, with whips and spurs, which, in the Jockey phrase, is styled cutting up. Can any thing in nature be more cruel than this?’ (p. 53).
Loosely inserted is a letter from ‘J.A.’, writing from Shaftesbury in July 1811, addressed to Mr Urban of the Gentleman’s Magazine, in which he describes the house called King John’s Hunting Seat in the parish of Tollard Royal on Cranborne Chase. The letter, refers to various diagrams not present, describes some of the internal architectural features of the house and some of its traditions.

Keywords: Guidebooks
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