The Albrighton Hunt (The North)
In 1908 the country was divided into southern and northern portions, the division corresponding very closely to the old Shifnal and Enville countries. The dividing line was roughly from Wednesbury on the east, through Sedgebury, to a point a few miles north of Bridgnorth. The southern end took the name of the Albrighton Woodland. The hounds were now divided, half the pack being kennelled at Wordesley, near Stourbridge. The Woodland kennels were eventually moved to their present site at Hurcott. J. Laurence was put on as huntsman to the new pack. There were two Committees, but Col. Goulburn retained the Mastership of both side of the country, as did his successor, Col. C. Gossett Mayall.
Col. Gossett Mayall, who lived at Oaken, near Wolverhampton, was Master for ten seasons. During his absence on active service during the first World War, Mrs. Gossett Mayall deputised for her husband, and the Hunt was kept going. Capt. James Foster, to whom the hounds still belonged, now presented the pack to the two respective Committees, whose property they have since remained. Mention should here be made of the well-known personality, Mr. Sam Loveridge, who was Hon. Secretary for many seasons.
n 1920 Col. Gossett Mayall took the Mastership of the Ludlow. From this point onwards, the Albrighton and the Albrighton Woodland came under separate Masterships, Mr. E. H. Smith taking over the southern end of the country.
Brig.-General T. E. Hickman, C.B., D.S.O., of Wergs Hall, Wolverhampton, now began his very successful nine-season Mastership of the Albrighton country. For the first three seasons he had Major F. Carr, of Wheatstone Park, as joint Master. In his final season Gen. Hickman was joined by Lord Ednam, whose father, the Earl of Dudley, had been Master of the Worcestershire.
At the commencement General Hickman had Capt. Vivian Helme as amateur huntsman, with Fred Perry as first whipper-in and kennel huntsman. Perry was later put on as huntsman and carried the Albrighton horn for sixteen seasons till a bad fall incapacitated him. He was a first-class man in every way, and during the late War, when living in Hampshire, came out of retirement to run the New Forest kennels practically single-handed, and later whipped-in to his son, Ralph, the present huntsman to the Croome.
General Hickman’s successful Mastership terminated in 1929. His successor was Capt. R. F. P. Monckton, of Deansfield, Brewood, who, hunting hounds himself, showed excellent sport for his six seasons, with Bob Borrowman as first whipper-in and kennel huntsman, and Fred Brown as second whipper-in, During Capt. Monckton’s six seasons Mrs. Vaughan mounted him and the two whippers-in four days per week.
This brings us to the Mastership of Mrs. Vaughan, to whom we have already made some reference. Mrs. Vaughan, who lives at Blackladies, Brewood, has been the mainspring of the Hunt, and her Mastership, which commenced in 1935, one of the most notable in its history.
Alec Cluett, who came from Lord Bathurst’s, and had been first whipper-in to the Quorn, was now put on as a huntsman, with Claude Huckvale as first whipper-in. Mr. Loveridge continued to act as Secretary, having the assistance of Mr. Charles Horrell, of Wheatstone Park.
Those pre-war seasons provided some of the best sport ever seen in the Albrighton country. The hunting reports of that period provide a continuous record of fast hunts and long points, with blood at the end. In the last season before the war hounds killed 591/2 brace of foxes, a record for the country.Under Mrs. Vaughan’s management, too, the hounds were beautifully bred, the Master going for the best hunting blood, and combining it skilfully. Thus some of the Quorn sires were used very successfully, notably their Bendigo ’33, who brought in the famous Quorn Safeguard line, and Penman ’34, who went back to the Berkeley Pluto; the great S. & W. Wilts Godfrey blood was introduced by use of the Cricklade Lifeguard and Limerick ’35, and another successful sire was the East Sussex Warbler ’29, who was by the Fernie Warden ’25. Besides hunting like tigers, the Albrighton achieved considerable notice for their looks on the flags at Peterborough.
Throughout the years of the War, Mrs. Vaughan continued to keep the Hunt going and the country open, hounds hunting two days a week, but with a pack sadly reduced from the forty-two couple there had previously been in kennel. She had, however, the whole-hearted support of the farmers, who have always been her best friends.
As soon as the War was over, the Hunt quickly got back into its old form, despite an initial outbreak of distemper in the first season. Sydney Kirkham, who had come to the Albrighton as whipper-in in 1937, was now put on as huntsman, and has carried the horn ever since. The sport he has shown in these post-war seasons is sufficient tribute to his abilities, as is the condition of his hounds, who always go to him, and he has the knack, so essential under present-day conditions, of getting his hounds away close to their fox. His son, Bryan, who was put on as second whipper-in on leaving school, is apparently going to shape the same way.
Returning to the hounds themselves, the pack was quickly built up after the War from twenty couple to their present strength of thirty-five couple, great care being exercised; with the result, as we have said, that they are a first-class working pack, possessing substance and stamina, and level in looks. Recourse has again been had to the Quorn, which under George Barker has become a recognized source of the best hunting blood, their Nelson ’44, Nogo ’46 and Regent ’48, whose blood is found in so many kennels, having proved very successful. Other sires to be mentioned are the Flint and Denbigh Gallant ’47 and Ronald ’45, some of the best of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s sort; the Middleton Dazzler ’49 has been another source of good hunting blood, while the Wheatland Tracer ’48, a dog that has been much used in his own kennel, has also appeared. There is now, needless to say, plenty of first-class home-bred material in the Whiston kennels form which to breed.
In 1950 Mrs. Vaughan was joined in the Mastership by Mr. L. H. Dalton, of Norton House, Shifnal. Mr. Dalton, a true-bred Salopian, is one of the biggest farmers in the Albrighton country. He comes of a real hunting family, and has been the owner and breeder of many good ‘chasers and point-to-pointers, including Hillmere, winner of the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree in 1950. Incidentally, there are a number of very high-class point-to-pointers in the Albrighton country, including Mr. H. M. Ballard’s well-known Cash Account, winner of two Open Races last season.
To everyone’s deep regret, Mrs. Vaughan and Mr. Dalton retired from the joint Mastership at the end of the 1954-5 season. Mrs. Vaughan was then presented with a diamond fox mask set in a gold brooch, as a mark of appreciation of all she had done for the Albrighton Hunt during her long Mastership. Mr. Dalton received, at the same time, an inscribed silver salver.
The joint Mastership was then taken by Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Perry, of Lapley Hall, Stafford. Mr. and Mrs. Perry are now in their third season, and it is hoped will have many more to come, for there is a tradition of continuity in the Albrighton country, which is one of the greatest blessings to be bestowed on any hunting country.
Sydney Kirkham continues as huntsman, and has A. Smith as whipper-in. Hounds are out three days a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
No mention has yet been made of that very important personage, the Hunt Secretary. Since the War this office has been held successfully by Mr. J. K. Brown, Mr. R Horrell, Major Davey, and Major P. B. Griffin. In 1954 Mr. F. Douglas Yates, of The Peak, Codsall, Wolverhampton, took over and so continues. He has Mr. G. Hutsby, of Weston Jones, Newport, as Assistant Secretary. Mr. C. E. Partridge, of The Wergs, Wolverhampton, is Hon. Treasurer. Mr. G. Alan Thompson, of Albrighton Hall, is Chairman of the Hunt Committee.
We have yet to add the history of the last 50 years! Dont hold yout breath!