The following was taken from A History of the Crawley & Horsham Hunt that was written in 1965 and still gives an accurate account of our history up to that time.
CRAWLEY AND HORSHAM
Master: Mr D P Sandeman Esq., Bacons Farm, Bolney, Sussex
Hon. Secretary: Mr A Stimson, Maiden Farm, Shipley, Horsham, Sussex
Huntsman: Jack Clarke
1st Whipper In: R Hirons
Kennels: West Grinstead, Horsham, Sussex
Hunting Days: Tuesday, Saturday and alternate Thursdays
THE Crawley and Horsham is, from its nature, essentially a “hound country”, and one in which all depends on the working qualities of the pack, and making heavy demands on the hounds themselves. For it is a country of deep woodlands, and woodland hunting means hound-work. The demands of present-day agriculture have largely transformed the nature of much of the country, to the disadvantage of hounds who are trying to catch their fox, and to the huntsman who is helping them to do it. The vale or “weald” country, to use a Sussex term, which used to be chiefly old pasture, has been largely ploughed, or is in temporary ley. While on the South Downs themselves, from Steyning to Arundel, whose undulating expanses and steep declivities were for centuries closely bitten turf, are now not immune from the plough.
If anyone, however, were to have doubts about the future of foxhunting under modern conditions – difficult as they are, compared with those enjoyed by our predecessors – they only need to look at the Crawley and Horsham as an encouraging example. For here the sport is fighting no rearguard action, but continues to be an integral part of the life of the countryside. Happy relations have always been maintained with those over whose land hounds run, whether the owners participate in the sport or not.
Foxhunting in Sussex probably had its origin in the 17th century, when the Duke of Richmond formed the Old Chariton Hunt, taking in an enormous territory which was finally divided up between the Goodwood Hunt and Colonel Wyndham’s. Later on that Jorrocks-like character, Colonel Joliffe, Master of the Merstham Hunt, used to bring his hounds periodically to the Sun Inn at Crawley, to draw the Cuckfield and Bolney country. These hounds were given up in 1835, whereupon Mr. Henry Lee Steere, turned his harriers into foxhounds, hunting the “forest” country north of Horsham till about 1842, his son subsequently establishing the Warnham Staghounds. In 1842, Mr. Charles Bethune bought Mr. Steere’s hounds with the help of a committee. and hunted the country as far as West Grinstead and Dial Post, south of which the “Findon” country was part of Mr. Napper’s vast territory, which included most of the present Southdown and Chiddingfold. Mr. Napper’s kennels were at Billingshurst, and Mr. Bethune’s at Crawley. Foxes were none to numerous.
In 1851, Mr. F. Stanford succeeded Mr. Bethune, the hounds now being kennelled at Warninglid. This good sportsman’s sixteen-season Mastership does not seem to have been a particularly happy one. the support accorded him being far from commensurate with his own efforts to show sport. Subscriptions were far short of expenses, and still more unfortunate, vulpicide was rife among the keepers. Eventually the Master made his weight felt, and a Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord Sheffield. was appointed to regulate the finances of the Hunt. Subscriptions then rose to over £1,000 a year, Mr. W. F. Hubbard proving a very energetic Secretary, his father and Mr. Peters being the biggest subscribers. George Loader, who came from the West of England. was put on as huntsman in 1866, and there was a great improvement in sport, though foxes were still being destroyed. Despite many protestations, Mr. Stanford tendered his resignation in 1867, and sold his hounds.
At this point the future prospects of the Hunt were none too bright, and it was only the timely intervention of Sir Robert Loder (or Mr. Loder as he then was) that saved the situation. Having previously stated that nothing would ever induce him to become Master of Hounds. at an emergency meeting held at the King’s Head. Horsham, he showed the greatest public spirit, by agreeing to take the Mastership. provided that Colonel A. M. Calvert would come in with him and be responsible for the arrangements in the field. At the same meeting Mr. Hubbard agreed to continue as Secretary, and Major Meek offered a new site for the kennels at the Bridge House. Staplefield.
Thanks to the energies of the new Masters. a great improvement was soon apparent in the country. The construction of the new kennels, under Sir Robert’s supervision proceeded apace; the keepers. with their “find and stop money doubled. quickly became amenable and the process of forming a new pack was begun. To continue our story a little further. Sir Robert was persuaded to remain as Joint Master till 1869. when he handed over to Colonel Calvert. And the latter in 1872. at the express invitation of the leading land-owners, took over the Findon country in addition. while Lord Leconfield at the same time donated a part of his territory. In November. 1877. hounds were moved to the present kennels at West Grinstead, built by Mr. Hubbard and leased to the Hunt.
Colonel Calvert retired from the Mastership in I 887 at the end of his twentieth season. Not only was he the founder of the kennel. but he had been chiefly responsible for rescuing the Hunt from its difficulties putting the country into that good shape in which it has since remained. It was said by one that knew him that his only defect as a Master was that he was unable always to realize that some people were not quite such good sportsmen as he was himself.
The next and equally important on our list of Masters, is Colonel C. B. Godman, who had previously been hunting the Chiddingfold country. He was yet another large landowner in the country, as were his two brothers, General Godman and Mr. F. D. Godman. Colonel Godman’s Mastership was to prove the longest in the history of the Hunt, lasting for twenty-nine seasons, during which, in the spacious times that then prevailed. the Hunt was in its hey-day.
George Loader was succeeded as huntsman in 1893 by his son-in-law, Dick Kings-land, who had been whipper-in since 1873. Kingsland, who had a total of fifty-one years’ service with the Crawley and Horsham, for twenty-seven of which he hunted hounds, will still be remembered for his cheery and wholehearted determination to show sport. He was a good woodland huntsman, persevering in drawing the big covers, and with the knack of getting his hounds away close to their fox. On his retirement in 1924 he continued to live in the country till his death at the age of 91, and was always ready with help and encouragement to the younger generation. In his hey-day, lye and George Dean, his whipper-in. were an invincible combination.
For the last three seasons of his Mastership, Colonel Godman was joined by that well-known sportsman. Colonel R. W. McKergow. who had previously had the Southdown. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Colonel McKergow went on active service, and Colonel Godman then resigned. During the war Mr. W. A. Calvert, son of the former Master, was Acting Master for the committee, and did much to keep the Hunt going.
Colonel McKergow came back to the Mastership in 1919, and remained for fourteen seasons. A great sportsman and agriculturist, he was very much a “farmers’ man”, all of whom were his friends. He had the interests of foxhunting very much at heart and. hotly at this period, and during the last war, rendered incalculable services to the Hunt.
Kingsland retired in 1924, and after one season by George Hale, Bert Peaker. brother of Alf Peaker, of Brocklesby, came as huntsman, showing brilliant sport for three seasons, before going to the Fernie.
Peaker was followed in 1927 by Charles Denton, who had been in service with the Albrighton, Cheshire, and with Mr. Isaac Bell, in Ireland; then with the Zetland and Bedale, and finally had hunted the Warwickshire two days a week for Major Huttenbach, before coming to the Crawley and Horsham.
In 1928, Colonel McKergow was joined in the Mastership by Lieut-Colonel the Hon. Guy Cubitt. Colonel McKergow resigned from the joint Mastership in 1933. but continued as Chairman of the Hunt Committee, Colonel Cubitt then remaining as sole Master, hunting the bitch pack, very successfully, and Denton the dog-hounds.
On the outbreak of war in 1939, Colonel Cubitt went on active service, and being severely wounded in Southern Italy, was prevented from resuming the Mastership. His place was taken in 1939 by Mrs. H. G. Gregson.
During the war years Colonel McKergow, besides being Chairman, acted as Secretary, rendering invaluable help. till his death in 1947. In 1948, Mrs. Gregson was joined by Leiut.-Colonel H. Green, whose wife took on the secretarial duties. Colonel Green retired in 1949, and Mrs. Gregson continued single-handed until the end of the season 1960-61. Before proceeding, however, it should be mentioned that Mrs. Gregson had the assistance in the field of Colonel Sir Walter Burrell, whose father we have already mentioned in our history. Major R. F. Whitaker and Mr. P. F. J. Colvin also assisted as Field Masters.
In 1961 Major R. E. Whitaker, Mr. R. D. Crossman and Mr. D. P. Sandeman. became joint Masters of the Hunt and Mr. Crossman hunted hounds.
Mrs. Green resigned in 1949. the duties of Secretary being taken on by Mr. John C. Allwork who carried on for ten years. until the end of the season 1960-61, when Major R. F. Whitaker took over.
Having thus recapitulated the history of the Crawley and Horsham, there is one particular feature we should note. That is that in the past hundred years the Hunt has never had to look beyond its own boundaries for a Master; and that in all that period it has only experienced seven changes of Mastership. Equally remarkable has been the record of the Crawley and Horsham huntsmen – George Loader, Dick Kinesland and Charlie Denton covering a period of nearly ninety years. Such a state of affairs naturally makes for a “happy” Hunt, and good relations between it and the countryside in general.
Much as is undoubtedly owed. however. to those great Masterships of the past. their task was a good deal easier than that which confronts a Master today.
Charlie Denton retired at the end of the 1952-53 season, after twenty-six years faithful service to the Hunt and to his hounds. His death in 1957 was a sad blow to his many friends. In 1953. Jack Clarke came from the South Notts. as huntsman, and no better choice could have been made. He has all the qualifications, with marvellous control over his hounds, and knowing instinctively just when to exercise it, and when to leave them alone From the outset he has shown first-rate sport. and stayed on as kennel-h huntsman. in which capacity he was of great help to the new Masters. both in kennel and in the field for 1961-62, reverting to huntsman in 1962. R. Hirons, who has been with the Hunt since 1935. remains as 1st whipper-in. Incidentally, it is worth going a long way to hear his ‘holloa’.
Mr. Crossman resigned alter one season. Major Whitaker and Mr. Sandeman continuing in office until 1964 when Major Whitaker retired. Mr. Sandeman now carries on alone and Mr. A. Stimson is Hon. Secretary.