All about our hunt…..
This history of the Ludlow Hunt
Fox-hunting is a deep rooted tradition of the English countryside and no British sport has a longer or more honourable heritage. For nearly three hundred years it has been fostered by successive generations of sportsmen and women who have developed its science and precept. The history of every hunt reveals a succession of masters and hound-breeders who have devoted themselves to the promotion of the sport, the improvement of the breed of fox-hound and the maintenance of the highest standards of animal welfare. The privileges we enjoy of being able to ride over farmers land are due in no small degree to the high repute in which our predecessors were held and the respect and gratitude they showed to the farmers in return. To them we also owe the excellence of the modern foxhound whose characteristics of conformation, nose, drive, stamina and fox-sense they have so sedulously developed. It is in the hope, therefore, that the foxhunters of today will preserve this legacy that this short history of the Ludlow Hunt and the part its masters have played has been written.
The Ludlow country lies mainly in Shropshire with parts in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It covers about 20 miles east to west and 30 miles north to south. The main towns are Ludlow and Tenbury Wells and the main geographical features are the two Clee hills – Titterstone Clee and Brown Clee. The kennels lie in the middle of the country at Caynham. The adjoining hunts are the Worcestershire to the east, Clifton-on Teme to the south east, the North Hereford to the south , the Radnor to the south west, the Teme Valley to the west, the United to the north west and the Wheatland on the north east.
Our detailed history is laid out below…..
The country was first hunted in about 1760 by William Childe (Flying Childe) of Kinlet and George Forrester of Willey Hall near Bridgnorth. Mr Childe, like Hugo Meynell, was one of the instigators of pace in foxhunting. As a horseman his feats were legendary and included galloping down the Giant’s Chair on the Clee Hill on a loose rein. In those days the rocky earths on the Titterstone Clee would be ringed with bonfires the night before hunting and during the next day to keep the foxes from disappearing in to the rocks. George Forester had an unbounded enthusiasm for the sport and hunted his hounds from the Clee Hills to the Wrekin. After Mr Childe left Shropshire to hunt in Leicestershire the country was irregularly hunted by a Mr Aston and a Mr Dansey who both kept private packs but it was Mr Adams, a Ludlow solicitor, who we can safely call the first actual master of the Ludlow. He started by hunting harriers and but in the early 1800s he purchased Mr Bland’s well-bred Worcestershire pack which he kennelled at Sheet. He hunted hounds himself showing great sport until he retired 1824. After this the country appears to have been unhunted until the early thirties when Mr Fredrick Stubbs of Wetmore took over Mr Adams old country; the hunt now being known as The Ludlow. Except for one break in 1841 he hunted hounds for 20 seasons and had some famous runs including one from Norton Camp to Downton Hall.
Mr Stubbs retired in 1854 and the next master was Mr Sitwell of Ferney Hall who proved himself a first-rate hound breeder. He introduced lines from the VWH, Quorn, Belvoir and the Old Burton. He also made use of a blood hound cross with a view to improving the scenting powers of his pack but subsequently found they could not keep up with his pure-bred foxhounds. During his mastership Mr Sitwell, with the help of subscribers, built new kennels at Downton Castle. It was during this time that the hounds were hunted by a professional huntsman, Christopher Nicholl, for the first time. Mr Sitwell retired in 1864 and was followed by David Murray whose father had been rector of Brampton Bryan and another professional, George Hills, carried the horn. Two years later Mr Charles Wickstead of Shakenhurst took over and his tenure lasted 20 years. When in 1886 advancing years forced Mr Wickstead to retire Sir William Curtis of Caynham Court took the hounds. He too was another knowledgeable hound breeder. He moved the kennels to Caynham Court and hunted hounds himself for another 20 year stint. During this time the Ludlow hunt was described by Sir Richard Green Price the Liberal politician and MP for Radnorshire as being reckoned “the tightest and most gentlemanly hunt in this side of England”
In 1907 Sir William was succeeded by Fredrick Millbank who hunted the country for six seasons. In 1913 Mr Millbank went to the Meynell, starting the trend of Ludlow masters rising to hunt the great packs of England , and Major H.C.Meredith began his long association with the Ludlow Hunt. He was joined by Mr J.E. Charlton and when in 1915 Major Meredith departed on active service he and Mr H.E. Whittaker kept the hunt going until the war was over. Between 1919 and 1929 there were a series of masterships in which Major Meredith, Mr Charlton, Mr Gosden, Mr Ockleston, Mr Gold and Mr Coldwell all featured. In 1931 Mr Coldwell was joined by Lt-Col E.D. Kennedy and in the next year his daughter Miss Mary Kennedy replaced Mr Coldwell; their joint mastership continued for a further five seasons. During this time the hounds were hunted by Mr G. Mostynn-Owen as an amateur and by a professional from the Derwent – F. Hoare. In 1937 Col Kennedy retired and Miss Kennedy had one more season on her own followed by Mr J. Delmege for one season. He hunted hounds himself and showed exceptional sport before departing for the war.
In 1932 Captain Sir Edward Rouse Boughton of Downton Hall started to hunt the north side of the country with his private pack. The hunt was known as the North Ludlow with kennels at Downton . The hunt was disbanded in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War.
During the war the committee took charge and managed to hunt two days per week due to the help and cooperation of the Ludlow farmers and the devotion of the Kennel Huntsman, George Knight who worked tirelessly and often single handed.
Then in 1944 Captain R. E. Wallace took over; he was undoubtedly one of the greatest huntsmen of his time- probably the greatest. Ronnie Wallace was a great hound breeder and introduced a number of new blood lines to the pack. He went on to be master of the Cotswold, the Heythrop and the Exmoor. He was also Chairman of the Master of Foxhounds Association for some 25years. In 1948 Sir Hugh Arbuthnot another famous huntsman took over for four seasons.
From 1952 for 21 years there followed the Rouse Boughton years when Lady Dorothy R-B and Miss Mary R-B were in charge; joined for four years by Mrs J.A.C.Edwards. The Rouse-Boughtons were extraordinarily generous to the hunt and kept it going through endless effort and devotion. They also bred some hounds good enough to show at Peterborough. During this period the hounds were hunted by Leonard Evans who continued to do so until Mr Kenneth Beeston took over in 1977.
Between 1973 and 1983 there followed a succession of masterships with Brig. John Stephenson, Mr Kenneth Beeston, Mr William Blane, Miss Gerry Harrison and Mr Edward Lycett-Green in various combinations.
In 1982 Mr David Palmer became Master, since then the Ludlow have enjoyed a period of great stability. Between 1982 and 2018 when Mr Oliver Dale handed over to Mr Henry Bailey only three people had regularly hunted the Ludlow hounds; David Palmer, Rupert Inglesant and Oliver Dale. However many more names figured in the mastership. Mr Bill Andrewes joined David Palmer in 1986 and they were joined by Mrs Frances Meier in 1993. Mr Palmer introduced many new bloodlines into the pack including some Welsh blood from the Vale of Clettwr and top class modern English blood from the Bicester. During this period there were many memorable hunts, including an 8 mile point from Keith Beaumont’s farm to Kinlet; there were also memorable events such as the great Clee Hill Dig when two tractors, two winches and forty men laboured for 5 days on the Rocks to free Peter Cooper’s terrier.
In 1992 another major event occurred in the life of the Ludlow; Mr Mickey Wiggin inherited Downton Hall and turned the estate into a hunting paradise which it has remained. It has proved a great attraction to visitors ever since greatly helping hunt funds. It was at Downton the hunt experienced its wettest hunting day on record when the Ludlow were visited by the ladies and gentlemen of the Beaufort hunt. By good fortune the Ludlow were repaid with a fantastic day in the Beaufort country a few weeks later.
In 1996 Mr Palmer moved to be master of the Worcestershire and was succeeded by Captain Rupert Inglesant as master and huntsman to be joined the following year by Mrs Scilla Kennedy and in 2002 by Mr Karl Creamer. In 2006 Rupert moved to hunt the Belvoir, a prime Leicestershire pack, and Mr Oliver Dale came to hunt the Ludlow. He and Karl Creamer were joined by Mr Bob Smith who has helped to guide the fortunes of the Ludlow ever since. In 2007 Mrs Stephanie Beaumont joined the mastership. She only stayed as a master for one season but continued as an outstanding field Master until 2018. In 2012 Oliver and Bob were joined by Mrs Clarissa Daly and Mrs Naomi Dobson who served for two and three years respectively. In 2018 Oliver Dale left the Ludlow to go to the North Cotswold to be succeeded by Mr Henry Bailey the present master. Between 2001 and 2019 the hounds and the country were in the care of Dave Finlay.
As well as being a great stepping stone for masters the Ludlow has also proved a great training ground for hunt staff and there are now no less than six ex-employees hunting hounds elsewhere in the country. Between 1982 and today the masters of the Ludlow have also played their part on the national stage in the management and defence of hunting. David Palmer, Bill Andrewes, and Oliver Dale all served on the Masters of Foxhounds Committee. Bill Andrewes started the Campaign for Hunting that led the fight to protect hunting and was vice-Chairman of the Countryside Alliance for six years.