You may know the stories of Reynard, they are told throughout these Northern Lands. They tell of his wile and cunning, but also of his skill and nobility.

Now I shall tell you how, even in death, he had the last laugh on those dullard hounds.

Reynard was old, his speed had slowed and his stamina was failing. He was very aware that it was only a matter of time until the hunt would catch him. He could, of course, try to avoid the chase, but he knew they would be back again and again until they ran him down and stole his brush. He must have the last laugh on these red devils.

That day, as he heard the yapping hounds and the wailing horns, he knew his time had come. He lured them on, and then ran, and as he ran he felt young again. He led those hounds a merry dance over rolling hill and down dank valley.

He was tiring when he saw Hawkstone ahead and quickly decided what his future should be. He ran straight as a dart for the hill top, slowing to allow the hounds to snap at his heels.

Right to the edge of the cliff he ran, and onward. The huntsmen would have no pleasure from this kill. Falling, falling he looked around to see he had taken some of his pursuers on their last journey too.

Alas, poor Reynard lay dead at the bottom of the stark, red cliff.

A sad end? But no.

He left a large family; all taught well, who hold his banner high and live with his memory.

en français

Le Bouton du Renard

Peut-être connaissez-vous les histoires de Reynard ; elles sont racontées dans les pays du nord. Elles racontent sa ruse et sa roublardise, mais aussi son habileté et sa noblesse.

Maintenant, je vais vous raconter comment, même dans la mort, il se moqua une dernière fois de ces chiens lourdauds.

Reynard était vieux, sa rapidité s’était amoindrie et sa résistance déclinait. Il avait pleinement conscience que ce n’était qu’une question de temps que les chasseurs aient raison de lui. Il pouvait, bien sûr, essayer d’éviter la chasse, mais il savait qu’ils n’auraient de cesse de revenir encore et encore, jusqu’à ce qu’ils le dénichent pour lui voler son panache. Il voulait rire le dernier de ces démons roux.

Ce jour-là, lorsqu’il entendit les jappements des chiens et les plaintes des cors, il sut que son heure était venue. Il les attira et courut et, alors qu’il courait, il se sentit rajeuni. Il entraîna ces chiens dans une joyeuse danse sur la colline ondoyante et dans la vallée humide et froide.

Il commençait à fatiguer lorsqu’il vit Hawkstone devant et il décida promptement de ce que serait son avenir. Il courut tout droit, comme une flèche vers le sommet de la colline, ralentissant pour permettre aux chiens de lui coller aux talons.

Il courut vers le bord de la falaise, et plus loin encore. Les chasseurs ne prendraient aucun plaisir à cette tuerie. Tout en tombant, il regarda autour pour voir s’il avait également emmené avec lui quelques-uns de ses poursuivants dans leur ultime voyage.

Hélas, le pauvre Reynard gisait mort au pied de la puissante falaise rouge.

Triste fin ? Mais non.

Il laissait une grande famille ; tous bien éduqués, tenant haut le flambeau et vivant avec sa mémoire.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance

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Background facts

The Fox’s Knob

The Fox’s Knob is a sandstone rocky outcrop at Hawkstone Park & Follies in North Shropshire.

A description of Hawkstone written in 1832 describes the knob and its legend:

“A lofty insulated mass of rock, which derives its name from the circumstance of a Fox, which some years ago jumped from the top of it to the valley beneath, when unkennelled there by a pack of fox-hounds: the fall cost Reynard his life, as well as some of the dogs which followed him. This detached bit of rock is of a pyramidal form and finely clothed with trees and ivy, the roots of which are wreathed in a thousand fantastic forms.

The name “The Fox’s Knob” was in use as early as 1784.”

copyright Gordon Dickins

Hawkstone Park & Follies

In 1774 Dr. Johnson, the famous lexicographer, wit and conversationalist, wrote “its prospects, the awfulness of its shades, the horrors of its precipices, the verdure of its hollows and the loftiness of its rocks … above is inaccessible altitude, below is horrible profundity.”

He was just one of the visitors to probably the most famous of all Georgian Pleasure Gardens. The Park was first laid out around 1748 by Sir Rowland Hill when he acquired the Red Castle and bought it into his estate. The first map of the laid out walk dates back to 1752.

The Park retained its popularity for many years, but by the early 20th century it was neglected and forgotten by all but a few local people. In 1990 the owners of the adjacent Hawkstone Park Hotel acquired the Park and set about an ambitious restoration programme. After a great deal of hard work the Park was re-opened to the public in 1993.

Hawkstone Park and Follies sympathetically restored and enhanced by many a new feature, is one spot that you must not miss when visiting Shropshire. It would be possible to describe at great length all its features, but it is probably better to advise you to go back and read Dr. Johnson’s quote; if you too want to experience such awe then pay Hawkstone a visit.

Legends

Legend says that King Arthur once lived nearby and a good many stories support this.

Two giants, Tarquin & Tarquinus, lived at the Red Castle (the ruined tower “Giant’s Well” is named after them). Their brother, Sir Caradus, was a great fighter. He used to tour the country kidnapping knights and holding them for ransom. When King Arthur’s knights Lancelot and Tristram heard he’d captured their fellow round-tabler Sir Gawain, they decided to take action. When they caught up with Sir Caradus at Killyards near Weston Church, Lancelot and Caradus set to in an epic battle in which, after much time and effort, Lancelot came out triumphant and Gawain was set free.

In another story, the giants Sir Edward and Sir Hugh are resident at the castle. They cheat a lady and then imprison her on the “Raven’s Shelf” (another sandstone rock abutment). Another of Arthur’s knights, Ewaine, decides his next adventure will be to free the “Lady of the Rock”.

He tries diplomacy and invites the giants, Edward and Hugh to talks. Alas, when the meeting takes place the giants bring 100 fighting men with them. Ewaine, ever feisty, says he will take them all on, but the lady forbids such a foolhardy venture. Ewaine compromises by challenging both giant brothers to a battle. Five hours later, although wounded, Ewaine kills Sir Edward and Sir Hugh surrenders and agrees to give the lady her liberty and her money back. He also promises to go to King Arthur and make a lasting peace.

Foxgloves

The flower in the picture is the woolly foxglove (Digitalis lanata). The foxglove had long been used as a folk remedy in Shropshire. Foxglove leaves were placed in children’s shoes to prevent Scarlet Fever. The leaves were also an important ingredient in the traditional remedy for Dropsy. This led to a major medical discovery. In 1775 William Withering, a doctor from Wellington in Telford, looked at this traditional Shropshire remedy and decided the most important ingredient of the cure was the foxglove leaves. He began to experiment and after about 10 years of research concluded that the leaves had ‘a power over the motion of the heart to a degree not yet observed in any other medicine’. Foxgloves are used to this day in modern medicine for people requiring treatment for heart problems.

en français

Le Bouton Du Renard

Le Bouton du Renard est une saillie rocheuse en grès dans le Hawkstone Park & Follies, au nord du Shropshire.

Une description de Hawkstone écrite en 1832 décrit le bouton et sa légende :

“Une masse rocheuse altière et isolée, dont le nom est inspiré de l’histoire d’un renard, qui, il y a quelques années, sauta depuis son sommet dans la vallée au-dessous, alors qu’il s’y trouvait aculé par une horde de chiens à renards : la chute coûta sa vie à Reynard, ainsi qu’à quelques-uns des chiens qui le poursuivaient. Ce morceau de roche détaché est de forme pyramidale et est somptueusement revêtu d’arbres et de lierre, dont les racines sont enchevêtrées en un millier de formes fantastiques.

Le nom ‘Le Bouton du Renard’ était usité dès 1784.”

copyright Gordon Dickins

Hawkstone Park & Follies

En 1774, le Dr Johnson, le célèbre lexicographe, d’esprit étincelant et loquace, écrivit ‘ses perspectives, l’abomination de ses ombres, l’horreur de ses précipices, la verdure de ses creux et l’arrogance de ses rochers … en haut, c’est l’altitude inaccessible, en bas, c’est l’horrible profondeur.’

Il n’était qu’un des visiteurs des Georgian Pleasure Gardens, probablement le plus connu de tous. Le parc fut à l’origine créé autour de 1748 par Sir Rowland Hill, lorsqu’il acquit le Red Castel pour l’apporter à son patrimoine. La première carte du tracé de la promenade date de 1752.

Le parc conserva sa popularité pendant de nombreuses années, mais au début du 20ème siècle, il fut négligé et oublié par tous, hormis quelques personnes des environs. En 1990, les propriétaires du Hawkstone Park Hotel adjacent achetèrent le parc et entreprirent un ambitieux programme de restauration. Après beaucoup de dur labeur, le parc fut rouvert au public en 1993.

Hawkstone Park and Follies, agréablement restauré et mis en valeur en de nombreux nouveaux aspects, est un endroit à ne pas manquer lors d’une visite du Shropshire. On pourrait décrire de long en large toutes ses caractéristiques, mais il est probablement mieux de vous conseiller de relire les citations du Dr Johnson ; si vous aussi, vous souhaitez connaître une telle appréhension, alors allez visiter Hawkstone.

Les légendes

La légende raconte que le Roi Arthur vivait jadis dans les environs et maintes histoires le confirment.

Deux géants, Tarquin & Tarquinus, vivaient au Red Castel (ils ont inspiré le nom de la tour en ruine, le ‘Giant’s Well‘ (Puits du Géant’)). Leur frère, Sir Caradus, était un grand guerrier. Il faisait régulièrement le tour du pays pour enlever les chevaliers et les libérer contre une rançon. Lorsque les chevaliers du Roi Arthur, Lancelot et Tristram, apprirent qu’il avait capturé leur ami de la Table Ronde, Sir Gawain, ils décidèrent de passer à l’action. Lorsqu’ils rattrapèrent Sir Caradus, à Killyards, près de Weston Church, Lancelot et Caradus entrèrent dans un combat épique au cours duquel, après beaucoup de temps et d’effort, Lancelot ressortit triomphant et Gawain fut libéré.

Dans une autre histoire, les géants, Sir Edward et Sir Hugh, habitent le château. Ils dupent une dame et l’emprisonnent sur le ‘Raven’s Shelf’ (Saillie du Corbeau) (une autre proéminence rocheuse en grès). Un autre des chevaliers d’Arthur, Ewaine, décide que sa prochaine aventure sera de libérer la ‘Dame de la Roche’.

Il essaie la manière diplomatique et invite les géants, Edward et Hugh à négocier. Hélas, lorsque la rencontre a lieu, les géants amènent avec eux 100 combattants. Ewaine, toujours plein d’entrain, dit qu’il accepte le défi, mais la dame interdit une aventure si téméraire. Ewaine fait un compromis en invitant les deux frères géants à une bataille. Cinq heures plus tard, bien que blessé, Ewaine tue Sir Edward et Sir Hugh capitule et accepte de rendre sa liberté et son argent à la dame. Il promet également d’aller auprès du Roi Arthur pour établir une paix durable.

Les Digitales

La fleur sur l’image est la digitale laineuse (Digitalis lanata). La digitale fut longtemps utilisée comme remède populaire dans le Shropshire. Les feuilles de digitale étaient placées dans les chaussures des enfants pour prévenir la scarlatine. Les feuilles étaient aussi un ingrédient important dans le remède traditionnel contre l’hydropisie. Ceci conduisit à une découverte médicale majeure. En 1775, William Withering observa ce remède traditionnel du Shropshire et décida que l’ingrédient le plus important du remède était les feuilles de digitale. Il commença à faire des expériences et, au bout d’environ 10 ans de recherche, il conclut que les feuilles avaient ‘un pouvoir sur les battements du cœur à un degré non encore observé chez aucun autre médicament’. Les digitales sont aujourd’hui utilisées comme médicament moderne pour les gens dont les problèmes cardiaques nécessitent un traitement.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance

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Key Stage 2 Activities

The Fox’s Knob

The Fox’s Knob is the name of a sandstone cliff at Hawkstone Park and follies. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock. That means that it was formed when layers of debris collected on the beds of rivers, lakes or oceans and were squeezed together into rock over millions of years.

You can make your own layered sandstone. Mix together damp sand and wall filler, colour it with different food colourings. Then press different coloured layers into the bottom of a plastic lemonade bottle. Leave it for a few days to dry thoroughly and then cut away the plastic bottle.

Reynard’s Everywhere

Reynard the Fox stories are popular throughout Northern Europe. Try to find some in the Library. When you have read one, try to do your own illustration.

Foxgloves

Digitalis lanata is the correct Latin name for the pink flowers in this picture, but they are commonly known as woolly foxglove. Can you guess why? There are two different reasons given for the name:

  1. The flowers look like gloves for foxes.
  2. The word is a shortened form of ‘folk’s gloves’. Folks being fairies, so foxgloves are really gloves for fairies.

Although foxgloves are used to make medicine for people with heart trouble, they are very poisonous, so beware, avoid touching them! Why not try to draw or paint some foxgloves.

Foxes Might be Closer Than You Think

Foxes are rubbish feeders and often come into towns to raid dustbins. Find out if any visit your home by spreading a 1cm layer of fine damp sand carefully smoothed with a plastic ruler next to your dustbins. Look for tracks in the morning. See if you can find out who your nocturnal visitors were.

Daddy Fox

Look at the lyric of the traditional folk song Daddy Fox and listen to the music file. See if you can sing along.

See lyric…

Daddy Fox

Daddy Fox he went out one chilly night
He prayed to the moon for to give him light
For he’d many, many miles to go that night
Before he came to his den-O, den-O, den-O
Before he came to his den-O
He’d many, many miles to go that night
Before he came to his den-O.

So he grabbed a grey goose by the neck
And he throwed a duck all across his back
And he heeded not their quivy, quivy, quack
Nor the legs all dangling down-O, down-O, down-O
Nor the legs all dangling down-O
He heeded not their quivy, quivy, quack
Nor the legs all dangling down-O.

Then old mother Twiddle-Twaddle jumped out of bed
And out of the window she stuck her little head
Crying “O-John-O now the grey goose is dead
And the fox is away to his den-O, den-O, den-O
The fox is away to his den-O”
“O-John-O now the grey goose is dead
And the fox is away to his den-O”.

So John then he rode to the top of the hill
He blowed his little horn both loud and shrill
‘Play on’ said Reynard ‘with your music still
While I trot away to my den-O, den-O, den-O
While I trot away to my den-O”
‘Play on’ said Reynard ‘with your music still
While I trot away to my den-O”.

Then old Daddy Fox and his cubs and his wife
They cut up the goose without any knife
Saying “I never ever had such a supper in my life
And the cubs they can pick on the bones-O, bones-O, bones-O
The cubs they can pick on the bones-O”.
“I never ever had such a supper in my life
And the cubs they can pick on the bones-O”.

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