The Hunt dates back to 1725 when hounds were kept at Cheshunt and part of the area hunted was that of the Hertfordshire Hunt (which no longer exists). The boundaries of the country now hunted by the Puckeridge were set in 1799. In 1970 the Puckeridge amalgamated with the Newmarket and Thurlow to form the Puckeridge & Thurlow; but in 1992 this union was dissolved and the re-established Puckeridge reverted to its old boundaries. The Mastership has been in the Barclay family continuously since Edward Barclay became Master in 1896 and is now in it’s fourth generation. The breeding of all of the hounds can be traced back to 1725 through the Foxhound Stud Book.
The English Foxhound
Until 1963 our hounds were pure English bred. Compared to our current hounds they were heavier built, tougher in temperament, more deliberate and without doubt more difficult to stop ‘rioting’ (a term which means hunting the wrong quarry such as deer and hares). At that time Major Barclay decided to accept a brood bitch from his friend the Duke of Beaufort. She was called Worry and was the first of what is now known as a modern English Foxhound, a lighter, quicker and more manageable type. Since then we have used stallion hounds mostly from the Beaufort, Heythrop, Bicester, Grove & Rufford and VWH hunts, with some introduction of American blood (hence some ginger colouring in our hounds) and Welsh blood (which produces broken coated hounds).
Every summer there is an open invitation to the Puppy Show where the young hounds are judged on conformation and other characteristics and a big thank you is given to the Puppy Walkers. These wonderful people take a couple of 10 week old puppies into their homes (not literally, they are supposed to live outside in a shed or stable, although they will try their hardest to persuade you otherwise) to further their education by introducing them to livestock, cars, leads and so on. Please do contact Di Pyper if you think you would like to help by walking puppies.
What we do
Since the Hunting Act in 2004 banned hunting as we previously knew it we have had to make various changes to our practises to comply with the law. We go on hound exercise and trails are laid using fox urine from America and we try to imitate the natural line a fox would take rather than have a drag hunt where the hunt is fast and furious over the best line of fences. Often more than one trail is laid and it may be difficult for bystanders to judge whether hounds are hunting legal quarry, a trail or inadvertently a fox, especially if they happen to follow a similar route. If followers believe the hounds are hunting a fox they should inform Hunt Staff urgently rather than trying to stop them themselves. In any evnt, hounds only react to those they know. Bolting of foxes into nets using terriers is still allowed at the farmer’s request when game birds need protecting.
Our aim is to provide a legal alternative to proper hunting and to hold the infrastructure of the Hunt and community together until such time as the present Act is either repealed or amended.
Where are we
The hunt kennels are in Brent Pelham which is roughly in the centre of the country and is about 19 miles north to south and 22 miles east to west in Hertfordshire, Essex and a small part of Cambridgeshire . It’s an amazingly rural area with mercifully few major roads or railways, considering how close it is to London. The country is mostly arable with ditches and hunt jumps and suits a well bred horse who can ‘go over’ the ground and has stamina as the ground can be very heavy when wet. Adjoining hunts are the Thurlow to the north east, the Essex to the east and south east and the Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace to the north west and south west.
It is impossible to hunt without the permission of the farmers whose land we cross. We are lucky to have very supportive and loyal farmers who welcome us over their land, even when it’s wet in mid-winter, and we could not be more grateful for this support. There is fairly extensive driven shooting in our country and we have to work closely with those who run each shoot, especially in December and January, to make sure we don’t affect each other’s sport, and again we are very grateful for their help and co-operation.
Nearly all the big dairy farms have gone but there is just enough livestock to keep the hounds fed on fallen stock. The hunt offers a collection service which includes horses. Owing to the high price of the disposal of bones and offal there is a small charge for this service. We can can be contacted on 01279 777 241 to discuss your requirements.