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History of The Hambledon Hunt

During the latter part of the 18th century, the Hambledon country had been

hunted in parts by a Mr Land and a Colonel de Burgh, both of whom kept

private packs.  There was insufficient sport, however to satisfy local foxhunters

who, in 1800, formed a Hunt Club, appointing Mr Thomas Butler to collect a

pack and hunt the country on a subscription of ten guineas per member. 

There was a strict agreement, it being stipulated that “no weather should stop

hounds from going to the meet unless there should be snow a foot deep at

the kennel door” (frost was apparently not to stop hunting!) Hounds were to

be at covert at 9am and should go out five days a fortnight, or oftener if

weather permitted.


The first half of the 19th century saw no less than fourteen changes of Mastership, few lasting more than a season or two.  Mr Butler was followed in 1804 by Colonel John Cook, who came from the Thurlow country, where he had complained that both foxes and subscriptions were “damnably scarce”.  A very knowledgeable Master of Hounds, who wrote the well-known “Observations on Foxhunting”; he only stayed in Hampshire two seasons before taking the Essex country, where he made a great name.  Colonel de Burgh is then said to have hunted the Hambledon country with a harrier pack for one season.

Mr Powlett, a former Master of the HH and irreverently named ‘Pontius Powlett’, then hunted the country till 1816, during which time the east side was hunted separately – first by Mr J Delmé and subsequently by Mr J Eyles and the Rev G Richards.  During Mr Powlett’s Mastership the Hunt wore green coats, and were known as The Green Baize Hunt, the committee having invested in some rather inferior cloth, which they retailed to members.

In 1816 Mr A F Nunez took the Mastership and moved the kennels to Warnford Park.  A jovial heavyweight, he had a successful five seasons, during which Mr Powlett was hunting part of the eastern side of the country.

The season 1821-22 was shared between two bright stars – Sir Bellingham Graham the Yorkshire Baronet and George Osbaldeston.  The latter had resigned from the Quorn in mid-season owing to a bad leg injury and exchanged countries with Graham; neither made much impact in Hampshire.  Two more short Masterships followed –those of Mr J Walker and Mr Shard; and then came Tom Smith’s first Mastership 1824-29.

‘Hambledon Tom’, as he was called, is too famous a character to need much introduction.  Though somewhat impecunious, he was a heaven-born huntsman and showed wonderful sport making his reputation in his first season.  Hounds were now at Hill Place, the kennels built by Sir Bellingham Graham.  In 1829 Smith went to the Craven and was afterwards Master of the Pytchley.  He was succeeded in the Hambledon country by Mr John King from Devonshire, whose bitch pack achieved considerable fame.  Resigning in 1841, he was followed by Mr Walter Jervis Long, whose first Mastership lasted till 1848, after which Tom Smith came back for another spell.  The hounds were now kennelled at Firhill, Droxford.

The two outstanding Masterships during the second half of the 19th century were those of Captain W H Poulett (afterwards the sixth Earl Poulett), 1859-69 and Mr Walter Long 1874-89.  Under Captain Poulett, things were done in magnificent style, hounds hunting six days a week and part of the old Goodwood country east of Petersfield being added.  There were sometimes two packs out on the same day, the Master hunting one and Cox the other.  Colonel Bower, who took over in 1868, despite being unable to emulate the lavishness of his predecessor, did well, hunting the country three days a week.  He lived to a very ripe old age and was Chairman of the Hunt for many years.

Mr Walter Long was the son of the former Master, who had come back for a third term of office following Colonel Bower’s resignation.  Mr Long, junior hunted hounds himself with great success and in one season killed over sixty brace.  He was well supported throughout his fifteen-season Mastership which marked a prosperous period in the history of the Hunt.

Other Masterships during the latter half of the century were: Mr George Wall (1852-56) who came from the Hursley; the second Mastership of Mr Walter Jervis Long (1856-59); Captain Desmond Sullivan (1871) killed out hunting; Mr Thomas Harvey (1889-1894); and the Hon. Frederick Baring, an enthusiastic and successful hound breeder who did much to improve the pack.

From 1900 to 1907 the country was divided, Mr H S Whalley Tooker, taking the east side, his brother, Francis, hunting hounds and Jack Newman kennel huntsman.  Meanwhile Captain William Standish son of the former Master of the New Forest took over the West side and in 1907 began to hunt the whole country, making a total of 21 seasons Mastership.  It was uphill work at first, as mange had denuded the country of foxes, but sport improved every season, George Roake proving a very successful huntsman.  During the First World War, Major Standish was joined by Mr Sam Hardy, who on Major Standish’s retirement in 1921 carried on alone for five seasons more.  Mr Hardy famous for his hackneys and coaching teams, did things well, but sport was not so good as formerly.  He was followed in 1926 by Major E F Talbot Ponsonby from the Kildare, whose father lived at Langrish House, Petersfield.  A fine amateur huntsman, he remained for three seasons, being succeeded by that great Hampshire sportsman, Major Jack Blake, who had been Hunt Secretary.  His four seasons Mastership was memorable for the sport shown.  The Master hunted hounds himself, with George Tongue and Walter Gupwell, both of whom have since distinguished themselves as huntsmen, as first and second whippers-in.

Mr Gerald Joynson, who with his brother, Mr Brooke Joynson, had had considerable experience as MFH, was Master from 1933 to 1935; then Mr J Long (killed on active service in 1941) took the hounds till 1939.  On the outbreak of War, Major Blake became Acting Master, but in 1941 hunting ceased and the hounds were boarded out with the North Cornwall; in 1944 they went to the HH kennels at Ropley.

In 1945 Captain Paul Vivian R.N. undertook the arduous task of reviving the Hunt which he did most successfully, hunting hounds himself for fours seasons and handing over the country in good heart to his successor, Lieutenant Colonel J H Hulbert.  Mr Jack Moore Stevens now came as amateur huntsman, having previously been joint Master of the West Somerset Quantock Farmers.  From 1952 to 1955 Wing Commander R A G Edwards was Acting Master of the Committee, followed by Mr and Mrs D Muirhead.  In 1952 Jack Kealey came as huntsman from the HH.

In 1956 Mr and Mrs Muirhead took over the Mastership from the Committee and were in office until 1960, when Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs Frank Mitchell took over as Joint Masters and huntsmen.  Douglas Hunt came from the Warwickshire as whipper-in to Lt.-Col Mitchell in 1965 and subsequently became the huntsman when the Hambledon amalgamated with the Hursley in 1978.   Mrs F Mitchell retired in 1971 and in 1972 Mr M D Poland was appointed Joint Master.   In 1976 season the Mastership was joined by Mr T W Parker from Charity Farm, Fareham and Mr R L Trigg from West Dean Farm, Bishop’s Waltham up until the amalgamation at the end of the 1977-78 season.

The Hunts amalgamated in 1978 to form and the Hursley Hambledon Hunt was formed.

Reproduced from ‘Foxhunting in Hampshire’ by Ralph Greaves. Although every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the contents, we accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions which may have occurred.

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