Compass on a whip handle
Several years ago I wrote about a whip with a compass in the handle : Read more here

So, I was pleased to find this Champion & Wilton saddle flask with a space in its lid for a compass :

Champion & Wilton saddle flask

Champion & Wilton flask

Champion & Wilton were a prestigious company of saddlers, famous for sidesaddles, but I wonder if this flask was a military officer’s private purchase.
There are more details at

Old railway poster foxhunting

This is a poster for the hunting season from the Great Western Railway.

It advertises reduced rates for horses and for grooms – I’m not sure what that says about grooms’ status at the time…

After an afternoon trawling the internet for references I have seen several examples of purpose-built horse boxes for the railways. There is one at Swindon railway museum that has space for three horses and accomodation for three grooms. It’s not far from here, I should visit the museum to see it.

I had always assumed that in the days before motorised horse transport everyone would hack to meets. Many people did, of course – apparently Melton Mowbray was such a popular centre for hunting because it was in the middle of three hunts, the Quorn, the Cottesmore and the Belvoir. In the early twentieth century a keen hunt follower could hunt six days a week.
Ladies could have their groom ride their horse to and from a meet, special groom’s pads would fit on the sidesaddles converting them for use astride.

Rail transport of horses for hunting and racing reached a peak in the 1920′s to 1930′s. GWR proudly advertised that they could transport horse & rider from Paddington in London to hunting country in the New Forest in one & a half hours.

It was still a major undertaking, if you have ever spent any time trying to load a reluctant horse into a box just imagine if the box were attached to a steam locomotive… Maybe they loaded the horses far away from the engine & coupled the box to the train afterwards…. I need to research this further.


A leather hat box

The equipment required was fairly remarkable too – travelling light wasn’t really an option. As well as ordinary tack there would be a top hat in leather box, heavy leather suitcases, wooden boot trees (lovely, but not exactly as light as modern plastic & metal). And there would be flasks, sandwich cases, rugs….
A couple of years ago I saw a beautiful small portable saddle horse made of oak with cupboards underneath and a top section that could fold out into a table. It had wheels and a metal loop at one end where it would be anchored in the train carriage so that it could not roll around.


collection of hunting flasks
While photographing some saddle flasks for my website my thoughts turned to the stuff we put in them.

Now, I can see the need for sustenance & possibly a bit of Dutch courage when out hunting – hence traditional combinations like port & brandy or a Whisky Mac. Innovation isn’t always a good thing – I have seen (and regrettably tasted) – framboise & port, this is never going to be a classic, and peach schnapps? well….
Double ended hunt flask

This double ended flask would have been a great help in the “what to carry” dilemma. Sadly, I sold it a while ago & have not seen another.

I used to favour sloe gin – but since discovering the recipe for a cocktail called a Millionaire, my stocks have been depleted.

Millionaire No.1


1/3 Jamaica Rum

1/3 Apricot Brandy

1/3 Sloe Gin

Juice of 1 lime

1 Dash Grenadine

Shake & Strain into Double Cocktail Glass.

This recipe comes from the 1960 UK Barkeepers’ Guild Guide to Drinks, which is full of valuable advice about clean fingernails & decorum.

Actually, that reminds me – I have a travelling cocktail set which I should photograph for the site…