A CELEBRATED stuffed fox, which was caught in an epic Cumbrian hunt more than 100 years ago, has been withdrawn from auction after a dispute arose over its true ownership.

The Grayrigg Fox was preserved and stuffed after a renowned three-hour chase by the Ullswater Foxhounds in 1898.

It was owned for more than a century by the Woods family at Grayrigg Hall near Kendal and was due to be auctioned by Anderson and Garland in Newcastle tomorrow.

However, auctioneer Rod Meek confirmed it was no longer being sold. 

"We were given it in good faith to sell but there is now a dispute of ownership," said Mr Meek. "I don't know the full details yet, but can confirm it will no longer be auctioned."

The fox was presented to the Woods family to mark the birth of a son. In recent years it was owned by John Lowthian, the former master of Ullswater Foxhounds. Anderson and Garland said in its original announcement that it was due to be sold by 'a private vendor'.

Anderson and Garland estimated in could have made £400-£600.”

The animal is in a 1.2m (4ft) long glass case and bears a handwritten note and an account of the hunt which appeared in the 1921 book, Reminiscences of Joe Bowman.

The story tells how the fox was found and caught by a hound called Cleaver, who had been raised at Grayrigg Hall and was the author's favourite hound.

The fox was due to be among number of taxidermy items being auctioned at Anderson & Garland's Town and County sale.