Kempshott Hunt

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X:1 T:Kempshott Hunt M:2/4 L:1/8 R:March B:Gow - 3rd Collection of Niel Gow's Reels, 3rd ed., p. 26 (orig. 1792) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A f|e2 ce|{d}cB/A/ ce|ce (d/c/)B/A/|dBBf|e2 ce|{d}cB/A/ ce|cedf|eAA:| |:B|(3ABA (.e.c)|(f>d)e>c|(3ABA (.e.c)|dBB>c|(3ABA (.e.c)|fded|cedf eAA:| |:e|{g}a2 ec|{g}a2 ec|{g}a2 ec|dBB>g|{g}a2 fd|cedf|eAA:||

KEMPSHOTT HUNT. AKA - "Kempshot Hunt." AKA and see "Oscar and Malvina." Scottish, English; Country Dance, Reel, Quickstep or Polka. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCC. While it appears to have originally been played as a country dance, reel or quickstep march, it is often played nowadays as a polka. The tune was printed as "Oscar and Malvina[1], or Kempshot Hunt" in Preston's 1793 country dance collection and in the American country dance publication A Select Collection of the Newest and Most Favorite Country Dances (H. and E. Phinney, Ostego, N.Y., 1808). "Kempshot Hunt" also appears in G.E. Blake's Gentlemen's Amusement (Philadelphia, c. 1824).

"Kempshott Hunt" appears in the John Clare (1793–1864) music manuscript collection. Clare was a fiddler, poet, writer and collector of songs and tunes who lived in the East Midlands village of Helpstone, near Stamford. In 1820 he published a successful collection of poems, entitled Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery by John Clare, a Northamptonshire Peasant, followed soon thereafter by The Village Minstrel (1821). Unfortunately Clare deteriorated in his 40's, was committed to asylums, and spent the last 23 years of his life in Northampton General Lunatic Asylum. He died there in 1864.

The title refers to a hunting lodge, Kempshott, in Hampshire near Basingstoke, the abode of George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, from 1788 to 1795, a keen sportsman and shootist. He also kept a pack of staghounds there, later turned into foxhounds[2] for hunting with the Hampshire Hunt (originally the Kilmston Hunt) formed about 1745. The Kempshott Hunt was formed around the year 1790 for foxhunting, and the Princes first ride with them was in January, 1791. However, the group was rather short-lived, disbanding in 1793, in part due to the sale of some of the Prince's assets to pay off debts.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 168, p. 64. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 571. Deacon (John Clare and the Folk Tradition), 1983; No. 9, p. 310. Gow (Third Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1792; p. 26 (3rd ed.). Abraham Mackintosh (Collection of Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, &c.), c. 1805; p. 21. Preston (Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1793). Schetky (A Collection of Scottish Music), 1800; No. 7.

Recorded sources : - Magpie Lane - "English Country Songs and Dances" (2009). Flying Swan Records, Albiero - "Northern Cross" (2010).

See also listing at :
Hear the tune played on Melodeon by Lester Bailey [1]
For much more detail regarding the hunting at Kempshott, see Christopher Golding's piece at [2]

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  1. Oscar and Malvina; or, The Hall of Fingal was a 'ballet-pantomime' that debuted at Covent Garden in 1791, with music composed and adapted by William Reeve, although it had probably been started by William Shield. Reeve did not compose all the music, and, as was the habit of the time, adapted existing melodies for some of the music.
  2. William Scarth Dixon, Hunting in the Olden Days, p. 159.