Rare book found in Buxton reveals how to battle Derbyshire’s snakes - with onions and radishes!

Jim Spencer with the ancient book found in Buxton. Photo: Hansons.
Jim Spencer with the ancient book found in Buxton. Photo: Hansons.

A rare book dating back more than 300 years has been unearthed in Buxton - and is set to fascinate the world with its strange advice.

The extremely scarce English hunting book, which was taken to one of Hansons free valuation events at the Devonshire Dome last month, was published during the reign of Queen Anne in 1704.

Pages from the book which include woodcut illustrations. Photo: Hansons.

Pages from the book which include woodcut illustrations. Photo: Hansons.

Called ‘The Experienc'd Fowler Or The Gentleman's Recreation’, it was printed for G Conyers at the Golden Ring and J Sprint.

It is expected to fetch in the region of £200 at auction.

Charles Hanson, of Derbyshire auctioneers Hansons, said: "It belonged to a man called Thomas Davenport who wrote in the book in 1769: 'If let loose and you it find, I pray you be so good and kind, as to restore it to me again – and I will pay you for your pain'.

"Featuring woodcut illustrations, the book provides instructions on catching birds with 'nets', 'lime-rods', 'snares and springes', low-bells', 'lights', 'trammel', 'baits' and 'trap-cages'.

The book was taken to a free valuation event at Buxton's Devonshire Dome in October. Photo: Hansons.

The book was taken to a free valuation event at Buxton's Devonshire Dome in October. Photo: Hansons.

"One section, entitled 'The Compleat Vermin-killer', offers instructions for destroying weasels, moles, snakes, pole-cats, earwigs, nits and flies."

For example, to kill snakes or adders the book says: 'Take the largest radishes, pare them small, and sprinkle them near their haunts, and eating of them they will dye.

'If you would handle snakes without danger, wash your hands in the juice of raddish, and they will not bite you.

'To gather them in one place, take a handful of onions, and about ten river crab-fish, pound these together, and this mixture laid near their haunts, will gather them together, so that you may destroy them."

"It also explains how 'to make birds sing in autumn and winter'; 'to make a hen lay soon, and fast'; 'the speediest way to fatten poultry' and how 'to fatten herons, pewits, gulls, and bitterns'," added Charles.

Other finds in the town in October included a large, brass Victorian gas light with shade, light fitting and vintage spirit level in a box, a good early Crown Derby vase and a nice collection of Victorian horse brasses.

Hansons valuers will offer free valuations at the Devonshire Dome on Thursday November 15, between 2pm and 4pm.