Albrighton & Woodland Hunt

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.

In 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.

In 1955 The joint Mastership was taken by Mr and Mrs Phillip Perry, of Lapley Hall, Stafford which proved to be the start of Barbara Perry’s outstanding thirty-seven seasons as Master and making her the longest- serving Lady Master in the country. Sydney Kirkham continued as huntsman and hounds were out three days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

No mention has yet been made of that very important person, the Hunt Secretary. Since the War this office was successfully held by Mr J .K Brown, Mr R Horrell, Major Davey and Major.P.B. Griffin. In 1954 Mr Douglas Yates, of the Peak, Codsall, took over with Mr. G Hutsby as Assistant and Mr C.E.Partridge as Treasurer with Alan Thompson as Chairman.

When Phillip Perry stood down as Joint Master in 1958, he was replaced by Anthony Hart who also hunted hounds and became a notable figure in the hunting world. As joint Master with Barbara Perry they enjoyed a successful six seasons hunting three days a week until Anthony Hart retired and was replaced by Bill Bishop and Edward Wetherell. Tragically Bill Bishop, who was hunting hounds, was drowned in the River Severn after an incident with his horse in his first season. Edward Wetherell who was a well- known farmer, continued for a further seven seasons and later went on to become Hunt Chairman.

Anthony Hopkins who had taken over the hounds after the sad loss of Bill Bishop, served six good seasons before David Randall was appointed huntsman in 1971. In 1970, Mrs Perry had been joined in the Mastership by one of her sons, Anthony, and later by Geoff Cambidge who was well known in both the farming and point-to-point worlds. The early seventies were not particularly good years. 1972 was a dry and scentless season until early December when Swine Vesicular disease broke out and hunting stopped for over four weeks and farming went through a stressful time. In 1978 Geoff Cambidge left the Mastership and Richard Perry hunted hounds for a season followed by Ron Price.

With Mrs Perry and son Anthony continuing, they were joined by Patrick (Pat)Webster, who had served as honorary secretary since 1971, and three seasons later they were joined by Martin Kemp, a well-known local farmer and formed a Mastership that lasted until 1990. During this time Nigel Cox had hunted hounds.

Nineteen eighty-eight proved to be a successful year for the Hunt at various Hound Shows especially with ‘Parker 88’ that won ‘Best in Show Unentered Dog hound Lowther Trophy’ against all foxhounds, beagles, terriers and others and went on to win places at the Welsh & Border Hound Show and the Royal Peterborough Hound Show.

Albrighton ‘Racy87’ also won the ‘Best entered Foxhound Bitch’ at the same Lowther show and, together with bitch’ Raffle’, was placed second in the entered bitch class at the Royal Peterborough Hound Show. At the end of that Mastership, and perhaps a reflection of their physical qualities, hounds had accounted for 43 brace in the final season which was the highest total since hunting had been reduced to two days a week.

It is also important to acknowledge the key roles played by the Chairman and Hunt Secretaries without whom the Hunt would have no management. Alan Thompson was followed in 1970 by Douglas Yates as Chairman and he continued for four years before handing over to Edward Wetherell of Ryton who held the post for eight years followed by Mrs Sheila Monkton of Stretton then Jimmy Sankey In 1989.

Before being elected Chairman, Douglas Yates had already served 15 seasons as Honorary Secretary and in 1971 when he resigned, Pat Webster took on the role for the next six seasons, followed in 1977 by Ray Mould until 1980 when Patricia Davies became Secretary; Gerald Skilton served for five seasons then Clive Billington took over in 1989, coinciding with Jimmy Sankey’s appointment as Chairman, and continued in the role for fourteen seasons.

Pat Webster was appointed Vice Chairman in 1994 and became Chairman in 1998, a role he held for the next nine years with Clive Billington continuing as Secretary until 2003; Margaret Busby until 2005; Richard Maddox until 2008; Julian Hill until 2016.

Returning to the Master, or Masterships, Barbara Perry continued her remarkable Mastership with David Parker as Joint Master but very sadly he suffered a heart attack on the second day of his first season and Barbara Perry carried on as a sole Master for the season. For the following season (1991/1992,) she was joined by George Busby and Margaret Spencer and, in 1992, they were joined by David Groves. Brian Coles also served for one season.

In 1993 Barbara Perry hung up her hunting crop for the last time and stood down from a truly remarkable Mastership which is unlikely to be equalled. Anne Hartley and Peter Mitchell, who were well known in the North Staffs Hunt, then joined George Busby and hunted the Albrighton until 1999 when Roger Hough joined for what proved to be George Busby’s eighth and final season. Peter Mitchell having retired in 1994. Days spent with George proved to be unpredictable – great fun and good sport was had by all. His famous words ‘follow me’ were taken at your peril! Roger Hough continued as senior Master for the next eight seasons and was joined in 2002 by Judith Swinnerton who left in 2008 to become Chairman, a position she held for seven years.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Charlie Sankey kept the family’s Albrighton flag flying when he became a Master in 2005 followed a year later by Andrew Crane. Myles Salmon joined them for three seasons in 2009 followed by Richard Maddox and Jen Brown-Watson.

Meanwhile the political atmosphere around hunting peaked with the Liberty and Livelihood March through London which attracted 407,791 countryside marchers with an impressive number of coach loads of Albrighton supporters. Staged on the 22 September 2002, it proved to be the biggest civil liberty protest in British history and reflected the wide national support for freedom of choice.

As you will have read earlier, in 1908 the original Albrighton country was divided into southern and northern portions, the dividing lines ranging from Wednesbury in the east to a westerly point a little south of Bridgnorth.

Unsurprisingly, after a hundred years, vast changes had taken place which affected all and aspects of life including hunting!. An expanding population fostered an ongoing expansion of housing and industrial development in the creation of new towns and estates together with the introduction of the motor car and the sprawling spread of road and rail impacted on the entire countryside.

At a more local level the Albrighton Woodland was finding it increasingly more difficult to put together a realistic season with the reduction in available land and initially some preliminary discussions took place between Roger Hough and Richard Follis, who was chairman of the Albrighton Woodland at that time, to look at the practicalities of a possible merger. Gradually these developed into more serious negotiations.

Understandably people on both sides held reservations about a merger but perseverance moved discussions into more positive modes and negotiating teams were set up. It was agreed that the Kennels (owned by the Albrighton) would prove to be the best location for the Hounds with accommodation for the staff, close to the village of Albrighton, and it could form an administrative centre when required.

After a separation of 108 years the Albrighton Hunt and the Albrighton Woodland Hunt amalgamated to become The Albrighton & Woodland Hunt.

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Former Masters of the
Albrighton Hunt

Colonel Gouldburn 1908-10
Colonel Gossett Mayall 1910-19
Hunted North & South Countries  
Brigadier Gen TE Hickman 1920 -29
Major F Carr 1920-23
Lord Ednam 1929-30
Captain R Monckton 1929-35
Mrs Vaughan 1935-55
Mr LH Dalton 1950-55
Mr J Phillip Perry 1955-58
Mrs Barbara Perry 1955-92
Longest serving female Master in the Country
Mr Anthony Hart 1958-64
Mr Bill Bishop 1964-65
Drowned, in River Severn, while hunting hounds
Mr Edward Wetherell 1964-70
Mr Anthony Perry 1970-90
Mr Geoff Cambidge 197?-78
Mr Patrick Webster 1978-90
Mr Martin Kemp 1982-90
Mr David Parker 1990-91
Suffered heart attack on 2nd day of the Season
Mr George Busby 1991-2000
Mrs Margaret Spencer 1991-93
Mr David Groves 1992-94
Mr Brian Coles 1993-94
Mrs Ann Hartley 1994-2000
Mr Peter Mitchell 1994-98
Mr Roger Hough 1999-2008
Mrs Judith Swinnerton 2002-08
Mr Charlie H Sankey 2005-16
Mr Andrew Crane MFH 2008-
Mr Miles Salmon 2009-12
Mr Richard Maddox 2011-15
Mrs Jen Brown-Watson 2011-15