Vale of White Horse Hunt

How It Came To Be and Other Relevant Facts about the Event

VWH Hunt Map

VWH Hunt Map

The Vale of White Horse (VWH) Hunt was founded out of some of the parts of the former Old Berkshire Hunt Country. During this period, the country was then a very large area, which included the VHW countries, OLD Berks, South Oxfordshire, Craven, and some parts of the Heythrop Countries. The VHW has a very rich history, so to make the story short, here’s a timeline of the most important events that formed this event.

  • 1830 – Hon. Henry Moreton became the Master of the vast Country, with kennels being in Faringdon.
  • 1832 – The Country was split, with the western part being retained by Mr. Moreton. He moved his hounds to kennels and transferred them to Cricklade.
  • 1837 – The Cirencester Park, which was built by the 4th Earl Barthurst for the Hunt, became the new home of the hounds.
  • 1843 – Lord Gifford took over the VHW Mastership and soon after, disputes arose over the boundaries of the Hunt.
  • 1862 – Adjudication as to which Hunt the covert belonged to took place and was presided over by the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
  • 1883 – The most extraordinary Great Couch Run took place in December of this year.
  • 1964 – The VHW finally came together after the packs have been re-amalgamated. On the 1st of May during this year, an agreement on the basis on which the Hunts were to unite took place.
  • Present – The Vale of White Horse is one of the very few Hunts not only with the resources, but also the country wherein hunting for 4 days a week is allowed.

Hunting Calendar and Seasons

The official start of the VHW Hunting Year is on the 1st of May. Once the hunting year begins, any new Staff member or Master begins his or her duties. Throughout Summer, the Hunt Staff becomes very busy, as many events are held such as Puppy Shows, Hound Parades, and Hound Shows. As soon as harvesting is allowed (typically late August); the Hunting year will begin.

Meets and Start of the Hunting Season

The Vale of White Horse Hunt is not publicized until the Opening Meet. This takes place either in late October or early November. Traditionally, it is held at the South Farm (Fairford). The Opening Meet attracts one of the biggest Fields during this particular season. Meets take place at 11 in the morning, and by 11:15, the pack will be moved off. At 1:30 in the afternoon, the second horses are then taken. The season’s final meat is often held early in April, with the venue being most commonly at the Ten Rides in the Cirencester Park.

Philip_Hounds

Philip Hague and Hounds
Cirencester Park
Photographer: Sarah Farnsworth

Hunting Traditions

The Vale of White Horse Hunt greatly depends on the goodwill of the farmers and the land owners who support the sport. The values and the traditions of the VHW should be upheld by the participants and visitors. This means that those who take part in the sport should show utmost consideration for any piece of private property that they will step foot on as well as other road users throughout the entire day. Here are some other VHW traditions:

  • Checking in with the Secretary to know where the participant should unbox
  • Greeting the Master with “Good Morning” upon arrival
  • Participants should never be late without prior notice
  • The host traditionally provides the drinks such as Port and Whisky and food such as fruit cake or sausage rolls during the Meet