Fantastic 4ft fox in a box to be sold at Newcastle auction

A huge 100 year old stuffed fox is set to fetch £600 when it goes under the hammer at a Newcastle auction

Rod Meek of Anderson and Garland with the Grayrigg fox
Rod Meek of Anderson and Garland with the Grayrigg fox

A fantastic Mr Fox which measures 4ft in length is up for sale with a price of £600 on his head.

The huge fox, which was caught in a hunt across Cumbria which lasted for more than three hours, is going under the hammer in Newcastle next week.

The Grayrigg Fox was preserved and stuffed after the epic chase by the Ullswater Foxhounds in 1898 and was owned for more than 100 years by the Woods family at Grayrigg Hall, near Kendal, in Cumrbia.

It will be auctioned in Newcastle by Anderson & Garland on Wednesday and is rated at £400-£600.

Auctioneer Rod Meek said: “It’s a very large stuffed fox - the biggest I have ever seen. The glass case is over four feet long and it almost fills it. It’s impressive and rather special considering the history of this particular lot.”

The case contains a handwritten note which says: “Chased for three hours and 10 minutes and killed by the famous hound Cleaver (Ullswater Foxhounds) Grayrigg Hall December 1898.”

 

One expert has said that the animal could be an alpine or mountain fox, which is bigger than the normal fox, and which are believed to have become extinct in England.

An account of the hunt appears in the 1921 book, Reminiscences of Joe Bowman. It tells how the fox was located by the hound Cleaver, who had been raised at Grayrigg Hall, and was the author’s favourite.

Cleaver, which had the “agility of a polecat” and “the spring of a tiger”, chased the fox from Grayrigg Coombes three times around Borrodale and Bannisdale Head, before finally catching him at Mabbin Crag after an extremely lengthy run.

Ron Black, who runs the Lakeland Hunting Memories website and wrote the book The Ullswater Foxhounds 1863-1913, says that Cleaver was famous in the Cumbrian hunting community.

He said: “Apparently he was a hound well known to followers of the hunt for his pluck and performance, frequently being in at the death of the fox, not only in the open, but where possible in the earth.

“He was, on several occasions, imprisoned and on occasion explosives were used to free him having been trapped for two or three days. His face alone told many tales, bearing the scars of several fierce battles.

“He could jump out of the kennel yard, a height of nine feet three inches and none of his kennel companions could follow. He died aged 14 years after 12 years of hunt service.”

The hound once chased a fox from Helvellyn to Ennerdale and returned to the kennels at Patterdale the next day.

The Grayrigg fox was presented to the Woods family as a trophy to mark the birth of Mrs Woods’ son.

The fox’s body was cured and stuffed and remained with the Woods family until the turn of this century.

In later years the fox was bought by Mr John Lowthian, the former Master of the Ullswater Foxhounds. The fox is now being sold at the Newcastle auctioneers by a private vendor.

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