From horticulture to piano-playing, sculpting and plastering, Britain’s huntsmen have skills that might surprise you, says the Beaufort’s Matt Ramsden
“What wonderful marrows you have, madam.”
Not a stock sentence advised to whippers-in when placating an enraged homeowner. Nevertheless, it was a sincere remark made to a lady in Tetbury by Dennis Brown, who was whipper-in to the Duke of Beaufort’s hounds from 1969 until the early 1980s.
Hounds had concluded a hunt in the aforementioned lady’s garden and done their utmost to destroy what was a pristine plot. Deputised to calm an air filled with rage, the expert horticulturalist knew no other tactic than to compliment the array of winter vegetables. Naturally, the situation was defused instantly.
As well as being a consummate whipper-in who knew parts of the Beaufort country like no one else, Dennis Brown was an exceptional gardener who won prizes at shows as a matter of course. Badminton Horse Trials director Jane Tuckwell, a long-term Beaufort hunting lady, well remembers the anxiety of ensuring that Master – the 10th Duke of Beaufort – ordered hounds home after cub-hunting, allowing enough time for the whipper-in to fetch his entries up to the Hawkesbury Show, which takes place at the end of August.