7 months ago


HUNTING Farquhar’s

HUNTING Farquhar’s diary Capt Ian Farquhar hunted the Duke of Beaufort’s hounds from 1985 to 2011, and is in his 45th season as an MFH Capt Ian Farquhar with Sam Staniland, acting huntsman of the Meynell and South Staffordshire. The Captain’s own father hunted the Meynell hounds in the 1930s Down memory lane with the Meynell Capt Ian Farquhar visits the Meynell and South Staffs — a pack which played a great influence, in several ways, in his decision to make hunting his career 46 Horse & Hound 8 February 2018

NEW SERIES Farquhar’s hunting diary Pictures by W Parrott Photography and Jo Aldridge AT the end of January, I had another trip down memory lane with a visit to the Meynell and South Staffordshire. The proposed outing had not gone quite according to plan: originally we had intended to go on the Tuesday to Walk Farm, Cauldon, Lowe, the home of David Barker, a previous huntsman and famous horseman. A touch of a bug had put paid to that, but apparently they had a stormer in the wall country that day, running up towards the hills. However, we were able to reorganise and go on the Saturday to the Blythe Inn, near Kingstone in the South Staffordshire country, a new venue for them fixed up by Peter Southwell, joint-master since 2016 and responsible for that area. I must declare a long admiration of all things Meynell. My father, Sir Peter Farquhar, hunted the pack in the early 1930s and it is where he met my mother, whose family had their own family pack going up into the High Peak country — Mr Hurt’s Hounds — from Alderwasley. They produced first my brothers and then me, but more importantly Meynell Pageant 35, one of the most influential pre-war stallion foxhounds. My uncle, Col Mike Farquhar, was chairman of the Meynell for years and lived at Cubley Lodge near Sudbury in Derbyshire and as a boy I often stayed there with my cousins Angela and Daphne. They had a covert, Beryl’s Gorse, a famous Meynell find that had been taken over by starlings, and every evening for three nights we were stationed with guns, horns, and dustbin lids to bang to try to persuade the starlings to roost elsewhere as nothing, not only foxes, but also little birds and other mammals, would put up with the starlings’ racket and guano. BLOODY-MINDED AND UNCATCHABLE ANYWAY, some years later, I and other friends from Gloucestershire were invited to the Meynell hunt ball and to take horses. The ensuing day’s hunting with Capt Dermot Kelly was so uplifting — the drive, the hurry, made such an impression that I moved horses there immediately and hunted with him for the next two seasons. Dermot was undoubtedly one of the best huntsmen I was ever lucky enough to witness. He was also one of the most bloody-minded when things were going wrong; being near him then was not a good place to be, but goodness, he showed some sport. His main field and joint-master at the time, Peter Joint-master Peter Southwell sits tight over a well-groomed hedge Lyster, was as good as any I have seen. No one dared move until he dropped the flag and then no one could catch him. However, I do remember one day when we were all sitting on a bank above a good covert eyeing up a rather large hedge below us that was obviously in line if hounds went that way. An old Friesian cow with her fairly generous udder swinging from side to side came down the hill, stood back and sailed over the hedge. We never knew why, a calf perhaps, but there was immediately talk of a whip-round to buy her for the master! Personally, the sport I had in the Meynell country invigorated in me a love of the chase which may well have been a contributing factor to my taking the Bicester and going there with Mrs Farquhar a year later. In the early days at the Bicester we still kept in close contact with the Meynell using their Growler 74, great, great, great-grandsire of Beaufort Bailey 05, as well as using their Latimer 75. More recently, Johnny Greenall and David Barker also knew their onions, as does current joint-master Will Tatler now, and so it was not surprising on the Saturday to see a real quality selection of bitches arrive outside the pub at noon on a rather dank day. The morning had started, I might add, with a hunt breakfast that some 40 or 50 stalwarts had partaken of. I don’t think I can recall seeing so much food piled upon our plates; certainly no one was going to go hungry for the rest of the day. ‘No one would go hungry’ thanks to a huge pre-hunt breakfast GOOD SCENT AND A TREMENDOUS CRY TO return to the matter in hand — the acting huntsman Sam Staniland certainly looked business-like and, judging by previous photos taken by our guide for the day, Erica Byrne, displayed on a collage in the pub, the impression was not misleading. Sam told me he had whippedin at the Worcestershire to Ian Starsmore before Ian’s accident and that he held him in the highest esteem, and was also a friend of his Ian’s son Neil, now our whipper-in at the Beaufort. It is always nice to know that the circle goes round. Wingman for the day, and apparently for most days they go out, was Ollie Finnegan from Leicestershire. He is no mug on a horse either, in fact there are not many better, and I would have loved to have seen the two of them operate across the best of the old Meynell country. The hunt horses we saw that day, produced by Sally Bowler, certainly looked up to it. The country we were in was fairly heavily wooded and not easily accessible from a car but the acoustics were excellent. Although the trails had been laid in the morning the scenting conditions were favourable and we could hear 12 1 ⁄2 couple hunting with a tremendous cry and up together all day. It had been great fun to catch up with a number of old faces, and in particular the trouble that Rachael Morley had taken in making sure we were well looked after underlines why she is such an efficient and popular secretary. I suggest that if old Meynell Pageant 35 were to go back there today he would be happy to climb into the beds and join the present incumbents. H&H 8 February 2018 Horse & Hound 47

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