The Bold Poachers

Hawker
My rough and detail from George Walker’s illustration, 1814, the dog handler holding back the hounds in  a hunt in open country with hawks.

moor guide 1814Sometimes I come across the perfect source of reference. In this first frame of my comic strip version of the fight between Waterton and the poachers in Walton Park I drew the astonished poacher realising that he’d been tricked by Waterton into firing at a wooden decoy pheasant. Googling for images of Yorkshire workers and countrymen in the early Victorian period, I came across George Walker’s Costume of Yorkshire, a book that I’ve used in my research on several previous occasions.

It’s hard to believe, seeing the two of them together (above), but I drew the rough before I stumbled across the Walker illustration. It’s so similar, with the exception of those lapels, that I have to wonder whether the image was lingering in my mind from when I last browsed through the book. Probably not, but this is the archetypal image that I have of an early Victorian countryman.

My scene takes place in 1835 and Walker published his book in 1814, but I think that country workers and their poacher rivals would be fairly conservative in their dress at that time.

For the other poacher, in my rough I’d gone for a powerful looking man with mutton chop whiskers and therefore too similar to the villain from the soap works scene, Edward Thornhill Simpson.

Again, George Walker comes to the rescue. His moor guide (left) will be my model for the other poacher.

Walker’s drawings were kept for many years at Walton Hall in the collection of Edward Hailstone. In the introduction to a new edition of Costume of Yorkshire, written at Walton Hall in the Easter 1885, Hailstone writes;

‘like his intimate friend Mr. Waterton of Walton Hall, [Walker]would constantly be out at early dawn in the summer months, to watch the habits of the feathered race.’

One further link; Hailstone rented Walton Hall on a long term lease from the soap manufacturing Simpson family, who had bought the property from Waterton’s son Edmund.

Link; George Walker’s Costume of Yorkshire on Calderdale Council’s From Weaver to Web online visual archive of Calderdale history.

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