b'A Warrener of the Olden Time. An illustration from The Rabbit by James Edmund Harting, Longmans, Green, & Co, 1898. With thanks to K Books, Waplington Hall, Allerthorpe.Often rabbits were slow to settle in and startbusiness confronting poachers, apart from the skill breeding, so mounds of earth were sometimes madeneeded to maintain a productive warren. to encourage them; these can sometimes still show onThe rabbit was known as a coney or cunning aerial photos. from Old French connil or connin; a rabbit warren was The rabbits took a good bit of managing. Warrenersa cunning-erthe which became coneygarth. This found that the breeding rate decreased after a couplewas sometimes corrupted to conigree, coninger or of years, so they would enclose part of a warren, orcunnery. At first rabette was the young coney, but make a second one, and grow a crop of barley orthe words became interchangeable and then coney clover to restore the soil. In winter hay, clover or turnipsdied out, and rabbit became the usual word.were given, whilst acorns gave the meat an excellentThe well-drained Wolds soils were very good for flavour. Brambles and gorse could be grown in part ofrabbits, and an entire steep-sided, deep dale could be the warren for food and shelter.given over to a warren; Warrendale near Kilnwick Percy It was a long time before an ordinary family couldis an example of this. Both rabbit and warren appear buy a rabbit; in the 13th century the price was 3din a number of places in this area, but the nearest and 1d for the skina luxury costing more than aconey name is Coneysthorpe by Castle Howard. craftsmans daily wage. In the 15th century at 2d itConey Street in York is from konig meaning king in was a possible Sunday dinner for a craftsman at lessNorse, and not from rabbits!than half a days pay; it was not until the 19th centuryDifferent coloured rabbits were bredHenry VIII had that it became a staple food for the relatively poor.a warren made at Hampton Court for black rabbits. This situation led to the inevitablepoaching. In 1176Silver-grey rabbits were associated with Lincolnshire, poachers were excommunicated for taking 10,000and white rabbits were another speciality. These skins, rabbits, 1,000 pheasants and 2,000 hares from theof course, fetched a higher price than ordinary wild grounds of a manor in Somerset - even allowing forrabbit skins. Talking of white rabbits, the carved Pilgrim natural exaggeration there must have been a lot taken!Rabbit on a door arch at St Marys, Beverley, is said to George III made the penalty transportation for 7 yearsbe the inspiration for Lewis Carrols White Rabbit.for entering a warren in the night time, and there take or kill any coney against the will of the owner or assistSources:therein. Poachers used lurchers or greyhounds to huntJohn Sheail, Rabbits and their history. 1971silently and bring their catch back to their owner. Richard Almond, Medieval Hunting. 2003Warreners were important, among the highest paidTrevor Rowley, The High Middle Ages (1200-1550). manorial officials. In 1300 the Earl of Cornwall paid his1986Warrener 5.5s per annum. The income from rabbitsA Henderson, From Coney to Rabbit: The Story of a for meat and skins was important, and it was a riskyManaged Coloniser. 1997BULLETIN 14 255'