1913 – 1983
Terrier Man to the Burton
Richard Gilby (Dick) Tether was one of those rare characters who died in the same village in which he was born, and where he had lived for his full seventy years. This was Hackthorn, in the heart of the Burton Country. Dick was a father of three, one son and two daughters and although he was an engineer, working at Roby’s in Lincoln, at heart he was one of the most true and genuine countrymen you could find.
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This story is quite remarkable and took place nearly two years after Dick’s death. It is interesting for the fact that these strange instances do not always occur immediately and can very often happen many years afterwards. I am indebted to Peter, Dick’s son, for the details of what you are about to read; Sue, his daughter for the photograph and to Jim Lang, former Huntsman to the Burton for helping with additional information.
The Burton hounds and the terriers which Dick worked, were other than his family, his great love and his enthusiasm for the chase was of huge importance to him. For example he would never take family holidays. During cubbing he arranged it so he could hunt in the morning and then work the afternoon shift. Full days would be taken off during the regular season so he could attend to the important duties which were trusted upon him. Initially he started following on a bicycle with one of his home bred Jack Russell’s in a box on the front and a spade attached to the cross bar. He then progressed to a motorbike and then to a Morris 8 soft top. Whilst there was a network of good old fashioned earth stoppers in the country at the time, Dick took full responsibility for the Hackthorn area which he knew like the back of his hand. Many a night was spent studying the country where the local foxes might be and finding out what damage they had been inflicting on the local poultry population. This job correctly done is a real art and not all about the stopping of earths. Possessing a deep knowledge of the vulpine species is invaluable in this case and Dick had that in bucket loads! They are an animal that never cease to amaze us at the best of times so knowing at least something about their habits certainly helps!
You could say Dick Tether fitted into his life as a countryman as a hand into a glove. With no television in the house, Dick was a great reader and was someone who can certainly be described as a true naturalist. He thoroughly enjoyed sharing the things he learnt with all those around him. This also helped the Burton in other ways. It was the time when inter hunt quiz’s were popular and with Dick on their team, you could rest assured they would normally win or be thereabouts!
As time progressed Dick joined the Hunt Committee with his sister becoming Hunt Secretary, so with their combined loyalty the Burton benefited hugely from their efforts. As well as giving so freely of their time, Dick and his wife made sure they always walked a single hound puppy every year. When the time came for hound exercise huntsman Jim Lang would always make a point of calling in for some much needed refreshments. Their pups from previous years would instantly recognise not only their surroundings but those who had given them a thoroughly good start in life.
Hackthorn of course, had been home since birth for Dick, so he knew everybody in the village and on the Estate which at that time belonged to the Amcott family. It was their butler Fred Pratt who, when the hounds met at the Hall, made sure that when Mr Dick Tether appeared at the Meet, a glass of fine port was produced for him rather than the cooking sherry that was made available for everybody else! He was quite obviously a man with immense popularity as this simple gesture goes to show.
Sadly in his latter years Dick’s health began to suffer so Jim continued to ensure that regular visits were made to Hackthorn with the hounds during the summer months. Calling in one day Jim sat underneath the bedroom window chatting away when suddenly Dick’s concentration ceased and for the next few minutes he seemed to be totally focussed on the hounds.“ Now boys and girls, listen carefully to me” he said, “ when I return, I will be coming back as a fox and I am going to give you a good hunt and you are going to catch me on the front lawn at Hackthorn Hall”. “Don’t be daft” replied Jim, and that was all that was said. However, please just take this opportunity to recollect, Dick absolutely adored the hounds he had addressed that morning. Sadly he died at home not many months afterwards and has long since been remembered in the Burton Country by all who knew him and had such respect for him.
Approximately two years later Jim had gone down with the flu and could not hunt hounds for a short while so Robert Buckland the first whipper in wasput on in his absence. The meet on this particular day was at the Brownlow Arms at Faldingworth in the country heading out towards Market Rasen. After a very busy day they found an outlier near Cold Hanworth and flew round by West Firsby, Spridlington and out to Hackthorn. Running up nearly to the main Lincoln to Scunthorpe Road, they turned back and after completing a couple of quick circuits of the village, they caught their fox quite literally on the front lawn at Hackthorn Hall.
On arriving back to the Kennels, Jim had extracted himself from his sick bed and managed to put the flesh out in the feed room for his hound’s return. “Well how did you get on” he enquired. Robert explained where they had been and that they had been busy all day, finishing up with a flier from Cold Hanworth and that they had caught their fox at Hackthorn on the front lawn of the Hall. Jim stood back and for a minute in total shock at what he had just heard. Then he turned to his whipper in and said, “Bloody hell Robert you have just gone and killed Dick!”