Foxhounds in Nottinghamshire

South Notts: the country was part of that hunted as far back as 1677 by the Earl of Lincoln. In 1775, it was hunted by John Musters, great-grandfather of John Chaworth-Musters, who re-established the hunt in 1860.

The Grove and Rufford was formed by the amalgamation of the Grove and the Rufford hunts in 1952. The Grove country was constituted in 1827 by George Savile Foljambe. The Rufford country, with Lord Harrington’s, formed part of the tract hunted by the 4th Earl of Lincoln in 1667.

Other packs

  • Beagles: Ecclesfield, Derbys, Notts and Staffs, Per Ardua
  • Bloodhounds: Four Shires, Readyfield

What kind of country is it?

Stretching from the Peak District to the Vale of Belvoir, the South Notts country is, according to joint-master David Manning, “as varied as you’ll find for a shire pack”.

“There are stone walls up near Matlock and open drains towards the Vale of Belvoir. In our ‘top Derbyshire’ country there’s a lot of permanent pasture, but it is 70% arable.”

David Manning, who was part of the runner-up Hair Raisers squad at the national team chase championships, suggests that the ideal horse to hunt with the South Notts needs to be able to jump and be handy enough to pop a fence from a lane. A galloping Thoroughbred, he points out, is not essential.

The Grove and Rufford is mainly plough country, where you need a good horse that can jump hedges and dykes, says hunt chairman David Brown.

“We have woodland in Sherwood Forest, but there’s a surprising amount of sandy land and plenty of jumping.”

While the South Notts has the urban centres of Derby and Nottingham in its midst, challenges for the Grove and Rufford include the M1, A1 and major railway lines.

Where would you go for a red-letter day?

David Manning suggests that with the South Notts country, some of the best days are in the old Dukeries country — the forest in the northern section where one can stand and watch hounds at work.

But he adds: “If you’re a thruster who wants to jump stone walls and holly hedges, which can be 4ft 6in and 5ft wide, then the Derbyshire side is best. Some of our best meets include the Bear Inn at Alderwasley, which is one of our opening meets, and any days between Derby and Nottingham.”

Best days with the Grove and Rufford are around Sawnby and Eakring, where David Brown points out: “There’s a warm welcome from the farmers, a good relationship with the shooting community and an opportunity to watch hounds work.

“We also have some excellent estates, such as Lady Anne Bentinck’s Welbeck Abbey, which is ideal for trailhunting.”

This feature was published in full in Horse & Hound (10 May, ’07)