Hunt History

The Woodland Pytchley Hunt originally formed part of the Pytchley Hunt Country and until 1874 was hunted by the same pack. The Pytchley Hunt owned the kennels in Brigstock, and would bring Hounds across from the main kennels in Brixworth in autumn and spring to hunt this side of the country. The impetus to form a separate pack in what was then known as The North Pytchley country came from The Duke of Buccleuch, Lord Cardigan (Charge of Light Brigade) and Mr Watson of Rockingham Castle.

The last Pytchley Hunt Master to hunt the country properly was Col. Jack Anstrutter Thompson in the 1860's who was told by the afore mentioned landowners hunt all the country or else we will form our own pack, which they did about 8 years later.(Col JAT used to drive his hounds over from Brixworth in Van drawn by 6 horses which he and his servants would then hunt. He received lasting fame for The Waterloo Hunt in Feb 1865 which is reputed to be the greatest hunt that ever was seen. His whipper in was the legendary Tom Firr, who went onto be huntsman of The Quorn and arguably the greatest huntsman who ever lived, he unfortunately clashed with Lord Lonsdale during his Quorn mastership and retired owing to injuries sustained in 2 bad falls in 1901).

In 1874 a separate pack was formed, although the hounds were still owned by the Pytchley Hunt for a further 7 years, until 1881 when Lord Lonsdale bought the then Blankney Hunt pack from Lincolnshire, and established it at Brigstock. The Pytchley Hunt did hold a limited control over the Hunt, and retained the right to grant privilege of wearing the White Collar until 1947, when they handed over the kennels, relinquished all their rights and gave up the country to the Woodland Pytchley Hunt. Lord Lonsdale was known throughout his mastership for his stable of horses, which numbered over 50 and were all chestnut in colour.

In 1885 Austin Mackenzie took over the mastership from Lord Lonsdale, and brought his own hounds with him. In 1899 he sold his hounds for 5000 guineas, which at the time was a significant sum of money for a pack of hounds.

For a period of time, the country was hunted by Black & Tans, until Capt G E Belville re-established an orthodox pack of hounds after the First World War. Victor Emanuel purchased the pack from Capt Belville when taking over the mastership in 1932 and presented the pack to the country.

The hunt is much indebted to the Misses Wilson's for seeing hounds through the war years, and subsequently to Major M F Berry for his lengthy period of mastership from 1946 – 1950 & then 1955 – 1968. As well as holding the mastership of the Woodland Pytchley, Michael Berry was also the Hunting Correspondent for the Times – the last such post to be held by the newspaper.

In the hunts recent history, continuity has been a key component in the success of the hunt, and David Reynolds’ mastership of 27 years from 1981 – 2008 provided solid and charismatic leadership during the changes seen in the hunting landscape with the imposition of the Hunting Act.

Some Notable former Masters of the Woodland Pytchley Hunt include:-

G L Watson (1874-78), Mr Watson had the hounds kennelled at Rockingham Castle during his mastership.

Earl Spencer (1878-80), known as Viscount Althorp from 1845 to 1857 (and also known as the Red Earl because of his distinctive long red beard).

Capt Pennell Elmhirst (1880-81), “Brockeslby” The noted Hunt Correspondent.

Lord Lonsdale (1881-85). Lord Lonsdale was an avid sportsman and bon vivant and was known by some as "England's greatest sporting gentleman". He was known as the Yellow Earl for his penchant for the colour. He was a founding member of the National Sporting Club and he donated the original Lonsdale Belts for boxing, He was a founder and first president of the Automobile Association (AA) which adopted his livery.

Hunt Country

The Woodland Pytchley hunt extends 20 miles East to West and 18 miles North to South. Market Harborough is the furthest point to the North West, where we border the Fernie and Pytchley hunts. The village of Bulwick is the furthest point to the East where we border the Fitzwilliam and Cottesmore hunts, and Irthlingborough is the furthest point south.

Northamptonshire is commonly known as the county of squires and spires and the Woodland Pytchley are fortunate enough to be allowed over some of the county's most picturesque and historical Estates.

Tuesday hunting is traditionally centred around the Southern and Eastern half of the country where many of the large Woodlands and traditional Estates are to be found. The large woodlands enable you to watch the hounds at close quarters and to hear their beautiful cry crash amongst the ancient woodland.

Many of the Saturday meets are based around the Northern and West parts of the country. Here the country is less dominated by large woodlands and is instead a mix of arable and livestock farms, interspersed with small coverts, hunt jumps and some spectacular views across the Welland Valley.

The Kennels

At the heart of the hunt is our pack of Foxhounds. In the Kennels there are approximately 32 couple of foxhounds, who share lodgings with the 24 ½ couple of beagles belonging to the Pipewell Foot Beagles.

The Hunt Kennels are at Brigstock, in the centre of the hunt country. The hounds have been kennelled in Brigstock since 1897, and the bloodlines of some of today’s pack can be traced back to hounds that were kennelled here in those days.

The hounds are fed on a mix of dried dog food and meat collected from fallen stocks on the farms within our hunt country.

The kennels are run by our professional huntsman George Whittaker. There are also a number of voluntary helpers who give up their spare time to help in the kennels whenever possible.

The Stables

Up to 10 horses are kept in the stables at Brigstock at any one time. Headgroom/ 1st Whipper-in Kate Pegrum.


Whilst we pride ourselves on being friendly and open to all, it is nevertheless important that we maintain standards of behaviour and dress both as a matter of pride and to show respect to the farmers and landowners on whose land we are fortunate enough to cross during a day’s hunting.


Recommended Dress and turnout For Children - Cream jodhpurs, shirt, tie (Pony Club tie if you are a member) and tweed jacket with brown / black Jodhpur boots and chaps.

Recommended Dress and turnout for Adults – Cream or beige breeches / jodhpurs, shirt and tie or coloured stock, tweed jacket and brown / black riding boots or chaps. Alternatively you can wear a black jacket and plain cream or white stock.

The masters of the hunt from time to time award subscribers with their hunt buttons and collar, usually in recognition of long term support for the hunt and the willingness to help out on both hunting days and at functions. For women, this means that they can wear the hunt buttons and also wear the white collar which is part of the Woodland Pytchley livery. For men this means that they can wear hunt buttons with their black jacket, or traditionally were entitled to wear scarlet coats with the white collar. In recent years the hunt elected to restrict the wearing of scarlet coats, and have instead also given the option of wearing a tweed coat, with collar and brass buttons. On most days hunting, the only people to be seen wearing the scarlet coats are the hunt staff and the field master for the day. On certain special occasions such as Boxing Day, paid up subscribers entitled to wear scarlet may do so.

Unless the weather is particularly wet, we would ask that you avoid wearing Rain Macs or wax jackets. If Rain Macs are to be worn, they should be either dark green, dark blue or brown. Bright colours should be avoided.

It is also important that your horse should look smart and as clean as possible. In the main hunting season from November to April, your horse should ideally be plaited if you are wearing a black coat and should definitely be plaited if you are wearing a scarlet coat. It is not vital to plait your horse or pony if you are wearing a tweed jacket but it always makes the horse look smarter.


  1. There are a great number of unwritten rules to remember on a day’s hunting, the most important ones are:
  2. —Ask permission of the farmer or one of the masters / hunt secretary before parking in a farm yard.
  3. —If parking on a grass verge, make sure the vehicle is not obstructing through traffic, or blocking a gateway likely to be used. Please also park outside the village perimeter wherever possible. It is advisable to park a little distance from the meet to allow your horse the time to get settled and loosen up.
  4. —On arriving at the meet, introduce yourself to the masters, field master and huntsman.
    —Once the hunt has left the meet, stay with the field and keep behind the field master.
  5. —If you are on a young horse or one that kicks, please put a green or red ribbon on respectively and stay at the back where possible, and turn the horses heads to the hounds when they are passing.
  6. —Always wait for the person behind to get through a gate or over a ditch before galloping off.
  7. —Make sure gates are shut if you are the last through. If in doubt, always shut it anyway.
  8. —Warn others of holes or wire as you pass by.
  9. —When hounds are drawing, keep your voices down so that they don’t get distracted or can’t hear the huntsman.
  10. —Keep in to the sides and in single file when crossing an arable field.
  11. —Don’t gallop across a grass field for the sake of it, especially when the ground is wet.
  12. —Let cars through when on roads.
  13. —Alert the field master or secretary of any broken fences.
  14. —Always bring some string and a penknife in case you need to undertake emergency repairs to a fence to make it stock proof, or to tie a gate shut.
  15. —Don’t shout or crack your whip at the hounds unless asked to by the master or huntsman.
  16. —Foot followers should make sure that they are not blocking the roads to through traffic whilst following the hunt, and should not park on mown verges within villages.

The most important thing to remember is that we are all out to have fun, but do so at the generosity of the farmers and landowners whose land we cross. It should not be forgotten that they are farming their land as their living and nothing should be done on a day’s hunting to put this in jeopardy.

Master of Foxhounds - Victoria Ferguson

Honorary Secretary - Mark Ferguson

© 2017 Woodland Pytchley Hunt