A historic archive of letters written by masters of Foxhounds and hunt secretaries in 1909 goes under the hammer on 19 October. The archive will be sold by Mullock Madeley auctioneers at Ludlow Racecourse.

The letters — approximately 190 of them — were written to Arthur Coaten, Assistant Editor of Horse & Hound until 1910. They were written in response to Coaten’s request for material for his books and articles and many have pencil editing marks on them.

The letters deal mainly with each hunt’s prospects for the season and with three subjects evidently topical at the time — the poultry question (compensation for local farmers for chickens lost to foxes), the farmers’ attitudes to hunting, and the effect of wire fences and smallholdings.

One letter from Cockermouth mentions the author had seen John Peel hunting; another from the MFH of the Biggleswade includes a recollection of a run he took part in during 1847. There are four letters from the Duke of Beaufort, and there is one from Tetbury that mentions Dr Alfred Grace, brother of cricketer WG Grace, as still hunting.

Some contain interesting comments on the hunting fraternity: “The large fields of horsemen that now attend the hunts spoil real hunting. Most of them do not know one hound from another, care nothing about hound work and only talk about the big jump their horse made…”

Hunts identified include: the Albrighton, Ambleside, Badsworth, Belvoir, Beaufort, Bicester, Biggleswade, Blackmore Vale, Blencathra, Braham Moor, Cattistock, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cockermouth, Duke of Devonshire’s, Essex, Fitzhardinge, Fitzwilliam, Grafton, Heythorp, Holderness, Kildare, Meath, Meynell, Middleton, Milton, North Warwickshire, Oakley, Portman, Puckeridge, Pytchley, Quorn, South Dorset, South Hornsby, South Staffs, South West Wilts, South Wold, West Carbery, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s, VWH and York and Ainsty.

“For anyone interested in hunting, this is an absolute goldmine of information on what the hunting scene was like in the years leading up to World War I,” said the auctioneers’ documents expert Richard Westwood-Brookes.

The hunting archive is expected to make between £700-£1,000.

Further information from Richard Westwood-Brookes (tel: 01568 770803) or from the auctioneers (tel: 01694 771771).

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (6 October, ’05)

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