> The Copper Family > Songs > Gentlemen of High Renown
> The Young Tradition > Songs > The Foxhunt
> Sandy Denny > Songs > Reynard the Fox
> Brass Monkey > Songs > The Foxhunt

Gentlemen of High Renown / The Foxhunt / Old Snowball / Reynard the Fox

[ Roud 190 ; Ballad Index K243 ; trad.]

Gentlemen of High Renown is a song from the Copper Family's repertoire, printed in The Copper Family Song Book. Bob, Ron and John Copper sang it in 1971 on the Copper Family's Leader box set A Song for Every Season. The family recorded it again in 1995 for their CD Coppersongs 2. They also sang You Gentlemen of High Renown at Will Noble's barn in Denby Dale, Yorkshire on September 27, 1986. This recording was included in 1987 on the EFDSS Holme Valley Tradition cassette Will's Barn.

The Young Tradition sang The Foxhunt in 1967 on their second album, So Cheerfully Round. They also sang it on November 17, 1968 at their concert at Oberlin College, Ohio, that was published in 2013 on their Fledg'ling CD Oberlin 1968. Royston Wood commented in the original album's liner notes:

The Foxhunt represents some kind of new direction for the style of the group. We may well go this way for a while, exploring the rhythmic niceties of the songs we learn. This song was begging for staggered rhythms and natty takeovers, so in a tentative way we complied with the requirements, but I have the feeling that even now we have only partly finished the job. We learned The Foxhunt from Peter's brother-in-law; it was originally sung by Mr. Stephen Pole, a Norfolk singer, who gave it to Dr Vaughan Williams.

Barry Bridgewater and Jim Brookes sang this song as Old Snowball at the Village Hall, Upperthong, Yorkshire, on March 24, 1973. This recording by David Bland was published in 1975 on the Holme Valley Beagles' Leader album A Fine Hunting Day.

Sandy Denny sang an unaccompanied version of this song as Reynard the Fox as an encore of her Eltam Well Hall Open Theatre concert on August 5, 1972 with her then band of Richard Thompson, Pat Donaldson and Timi Donald. However, no official recording is known.

Fairport Convention recorded Reynard the Fox in 1978 for their album Tipplers Tales and again in 1987 for their live-in-the-studio album In Real Time. A 1987 TV performance was released in 2002 on the Fairport unConventioNal 4CD set.

Gordon McIntyre and Danny Spooner sang The Foxhunt in 1978 on their Larrikin album Revived and Relieved!, Danny Spooner sang Reynolds the Fox on his 1986 album I Got This One From…, and he returned to The Foxhunt on his 2011 CD The Fox, The Hare and the Poacher's Fate. He noted:

Reynolds the Fox is a song I never get tired of singing. I got this one from Erik Gooding during his all too brief stay in Melbourne in the 1970s. Erik is a mathematician who sings and writes songs, Tessside Bridges being just one. He did me a great favour when he introduced me to this fine hunting song.

Martin Carthy sang The Foxhunt on Brass Monkey's 1988 album See How It Runs. This LP was re-released as second half of their 1993 compilation CD The Complete Brass Monkey and on the Topic anthology And We'll All Have Tea. Martin Carthy commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Norfolk. The tone of voice, which quietly and unsentimentally insists on things balanced and which resonates in much of traditional song, is about as consonant as a dull thud with that of a farming industry that views all undomesticated creatures as vermin and treats them as such, casting a hunting fraternity ludicrously as conservator of wildlife (so that it can, of course, have something to hunt)—the implications of which are as unpalatable as they are mind-boggling.

Bob Fox & Stu Luckley's sang Bold Reynard the Fox in 1978 on their Rubber Records LP Nowt So Good'll Pass and in 1997 on their Fellside CD Box of Gold with a few variants to what appears below.

Will Noble and John Cocking sang Old Snowball live at the Three Horseshoes, Dutton Hill, Essex, on April 21, 2004. This recording was published in the same year on their Veteran CD Yon Green Banks. They and John Howson commented in the album's notes:

Also called Bold Reynard, it is a hunting song which was a particular favourite of the Holme Valley Beagles and it appears in the 3rd edition of their song book where it is marked as a duet. The best remembered rendition was by Fred Woodstock and Arthur Howard’s brother James. The song was then passed onto Barry Bridgewater and Jim Brookes who recorded it for the now deleted LP A Fine Hunting Day.

It is not a widely spread song in the tradition although it was collected in Sussex, including a version in 5/4 time sung by the Copper family entitled You Gentlemen of High Renown. Ralph Vaughan Williams also noted a version in 1905 called The Foxhunt from Stephen Poll of Tilney St Lawrence, Norfolk.

Hilary James sang Bold Reynard on Simon Mayor's 2006 CD Music from a Small Island. He noted:

A source of much contention in the 21st century, the fox hunt is nevertheless an inescapable part of the English heritage. Hilary and I recorded a live version of Bold Reynard on the Duos album; here it is in a bigger arrangement sandwiched by another traditional English tune, The Hunt Is Up, reputedly written by Henry VIII.

Andy Turner learned Gentlemen of High Renown in 1976 from the Copper Family's album and sang it as the January 25, 2014 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Compare this to the similar named but quite different Reynard the Fox as sung by e.g. Nic Jones, June Tabor and Martin Carthy, and to Reynardine as sung by e.g. A.L. Lloyd, Anne Briggs, Martin Carthy and June Tabor.

Lyrics

The Copper Family sing Gentlemen of High Renown

You Gentlemen of high renown, come listen unto me
That take delight in fox and hounds in ev'ry high degree.
A story true to you I'll tell concerning of a fox,
In Oxford Town in Oxfordshire there lived some mighty hounds.

Bold Reynard being all in his den and standing on the ground,
Bold Reynard being all in his den and hearing of those hounds.
I think I hear some joyful hounds thinking for me to kill,
But before they catch me by my brush I'll climb those mighty hills.

Bold Reynard cocked up his head and up the hill he went,
Bold Reynard cocked out his brush and he left a gallant scent.
Your hounds are staunch I know them well, they drive me like the wind,
I will step so lightly on the ground I'll leave no scent behind.

We drove Bold Reynard five hours or more without a check of speed,
We drove Bold Reynard five hours or more till we came to Oxford Green.
There we caught Bold Reynard all by his brush never to let him go,
He has had so many of our feather-ed fowls down in the valley below.

Our Huntsman blows his joyful sound, Relope, my boys, fulfil
He will have no more of our feather-ed fowls nor lambs on yonder hill.
Oh, pardon, Huntsman, then he cried. No pardon you shall have,
Take off his head likewise his brush and give him three Hurrays.

The Young Tradition sing The Foxhunt

You gentlemen of high renown come listen unto me
That takes delight in foxhunting by every degree.
A story here I'll tell to you concerning of a fox,
Near Royston Hills and mountains high and over stony rocks.

Old Reynold being in his hall and hearing of these hounds
Which made him for to prick his ears and tread upon the ground.
“Methinks me hear some jubal hounds pressing upon my life;
Before that they to me shall come I'll tread upon the ground.”

We hunted full four hours or more by parishes sixteen;
We hunted full four hours or more and came by Barkworth Green.
“Oh if you'll only spare my life I promise and fulfil:
To touch no more your feathered fowl nor lambs in yonder fold.”

Bold Reynold beat and out of breath and dreading of these rounds
Thinking he might give up his life before those jubal hounds.
So here's adieu to ducks and geese, likewise young lambs also;
They've got bold Reynold by the brush and will not let him go.

Fairport Convention sing Reynard the Fox

Ye gentlemen of high renown, come listen unto me
That takes delight in fox hunting by every degree.
A story I will tell to you, concerning of a fox
Near Royston Woods and mountains high and over stony rocks.

Bold Reynard, being in his hole and hearing of these hounds
Which made him for to prick up his ears and tread upon the ground.
“Methinks me hears some jubal hounds a-pressing upon the life
Before that they should come to me, I'll tread upon the ground.”

We hunted for four hours or more through parishes sixteen;
We hunted for four hours or more and came by Parkworth Green.
“Oh, if you'll only spare my life, I promise and fulfil:
To touch no more your feathered fowl or lambs on yonder hill.”

Bold Reynard, spent and out of breath and treading on this ground,
Thinking he must give up his life before these jubal hounds.
“So here's adieu to ducks and geese, likewise to lambs also”
They've got poor Reynard by the slabs and will not let them go.

Martin Carthy sings The Foxhunt

You gentlemen of high renown come listen unto me
That take delight in foxhunting by every degree.
A story now I'll tell to you concerning of a fox,
O'er Royston Hills and mountains high and over stony rocks.

Old Reynold being in his den and hearing of these hounds
Which made him for to prick his ears and tread upon the ground.
“Methink me hear some jubal hounds pressing upon my life;
Before that they do come to me I'll tread upon the ground.”

We hunted full four hours or more by parishes sixteen;
We hunted full four hours or more and came by Barkworth Green.
“Oh if you'll only spare my life I promise and fulfil:
I'll touch no more your feathered fowl nor lambs in yonder fold.”

Old Reynold beat and out of breath and dreading of these hounds
Thinking that he might lose his life before these jubal hounds
Oh here's adieu to duck and geese, likewise young lamb also;
They've got old Reynold by the brush and will not let him go.

Will Noble and John Cocking sing Old Snowball

Ye gentlemen of high renown, come listen unto me,
That takes delight in foxhunting, tis of a high degree.
A story true I'll tell to you, concerning of a fox.
We hunted him o'er mountains high, through valleys fields and rocks.

Bold Reynard lying in his den and hearing of these hounds,
They wakened him out of his sleep, he on his legs did stand.
Me thinks I hear yon jovial hounds pursuing of me still,
Before that me they shall come nigh, I'll cross yon mighty hill.

Old Snowball he threw up his nose he knew it was a fox.
“We'd better leave these woods and groves and try yon mighty rocks.”
Bold Reynard lying not far off and hearing him say so,
“If you will follow me my boys fresh ground to you I'll show.”

Old Snowball he threw up his nose he caught the gallant scent.
Old Snowball he threw up his heels and through yon woods he went.
Then away, away through Piketon Park, through parishes eighteen,
We hunted him nine hours or more till we came to Masefield Green.

Bold Reynard lying himself down thinking to take some rest,
Old Snowball he came up to him and he sounded him his last.
“If you will spare my life this time, I'll promise and fulfil,
I'll touch no ducks, no feathered fowl, no lambs on yon high hill.”

The other hounds yow, yow, came up so bold and hearing him say so,
“We've caught bold Reynard by his back and we will not let him go.
So bid adieu to yon cocks and ducks, likewise yon lambs also,
We've caught bold Reynard by his back and we will not let him go.”

“So bid adieu to yon cocks and ducks, likewise yon lambs also.
We've caught bold Reynard by his back and we will not let him go.”

Acknowledgements

Copied from the Brass Monkey LP sleeve notes by Garry Gillard; thanks to Wolfgang Hell.