Cum Grano

St. Hubert and Exeter Cathedral

St. Hubert and Exeter Cathedral

The Story of a Protest against the desecration of the Cathedral, by the erection in it of a stained-glass window glorifying a stag-hunter and stag-hunting.
By HENRY B. AMOS (co-founder of the League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports).

It was on October 8th (1935) that the stained-glass window glorifying a stag-hunter was dedicated in the Children’s Chapel, Exeter Cathedral. The window is in memory of Hugh, 4th Earl of Fortescue, who was Lord Lieutenant of Devon for some years and the leading stag-hunter in Devon and Somerset for over twenty years during which time he was responsible for the killing of over probably 5,000 stags and hinds. I have said “killing,” but I should say “torturing,” for, hunting these highly sentient animals with thirty dogs and fifty, or five hundred, followers to the death, is not an honourable humane death as is given to domestic animals, but one of sustained agony which, when done for “pleasure,” as in hunting and condoned by the Church, must be called a crime against man and a sin against God.

As no protest had been made against the Memorial, and I had been prominent in directing attention to the iniquity of stag-hunting for many years, I felt that a peculiar responsibility rested upon me to do something by way of rousing public indignation in the matter. Accordingly, I went to Exeter and on Sunday, November 3rd, St. Hubert’s Day, I took action whilst service was proceeding in the evening in the Cathedral. I did this by heaving a copy of [Henry Salt’s] “The Creed of Kinship,” containing leaflets and a letter of Protest to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, at the offending window. Being heavily leaded, my missile fell to the ground without doing any damage, whereupon I twice forced my umbrella through the part containing the crest of the Fortescue family. I then went and gave myself up to the police. Here I was talked to and put in the cells for the night. The next day I was brought before the magistrates who remanded me, in two sums of £50, to come up for trial in a week’s time. Meantime, I was taken to the prison where I remained until the Wednesday, when a friend bailed me out. I duly appeared before the magistrates on Armistice Day, pleaded guilty and was penalised in the sum of £82 1s. 11d.

The following letter was sent by Mr. Henry S. Salt, the doyen of the Humanitarian Movement, to The Times and the Manchester Guardian, but not inserted by either :—


Sir,—Something has been heard of late of a protest made at Exeter against the desecration of one of the Cathedral windows in honour of a deceased stag-hunter, and blame has been laid on Mr. H. B. Amos for the forcible manner in which he protested. May I, as one of the oldest of the humanitarians, who for the past half century have been trying to save stag, fox, and bare from persecution, say that I sincerely respect Mr. Amos for his courage in breaking a window in which St. Hubert’s figure was so absurdly and irrelevantly introduced, and that I regret my own failure in 1913, when honorary secretary of the Humanitarian League, to do the same at the church of Moor Monkton in Yorkshire, where the death of an aged clergyman in the hunting field had led to the erection of a similar window?

I think we are entitled to ask the church authorities to put a stop to provocative memorials of this kind, which are likely to lead to reprisals.—Yours, etc.,
Henry S. Salt

From Cruel Sports, December 1935