The Quorn Hunt, usually called the Quorn, established in 1696, is one of the world's oldest fox hunting packs and claims to be the United Kingdom's most famous hunt. Its country is mostly in Leicestershire, together with some smaller areas of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Despite the abolition of fox hunting intended by the Hunting Act 2004, the Quorn illegally continues to go out on four days of the week during the autumn and winter months, making it a criminal organisation.
The hunt traces its origins to a pack of foxhounds established in 1696 at Tooley Park, Leicestershire, by the youthful Thomas Boothby (1677–1752). Its present name comes from the village of Quorn (also known as Quorndon), where the hounds were kennelled between 1753 and 1904, having been established there as a result of the hunt's second master, Hugo Meynell, buying Quorndon Hall from the 4th Earl Ferrers. Following more than half a century under Boothby, Meynell was Master for forty-seven years, and such was his innovative mastery of fox hunting that he has been called 'The Primate of the Science'.
Before gaining its present title in the mid 19th century, the hunt was often known by the name of its Master: for instance, from 1827 to 1831 it was called 'Lord Southampton's Hounds'. Until 1884, the hounds were owned by the Master and a change of mastership was either by purchase or inheritance. The hounds are now said to be "owned by the country", that is, by the hunt organization.
The Quorn hunts a wide area of Leicestershire, plus some coverts in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, stretching from just south of Nottingham to the edge of the city of Leicester and from Melton Mowbray westwards to Ashby de la Zouch. On the eastern side of the country lies a rolling open landscape, with good fences to jump, while to the west are the wooded uplands of Charnwood Forest and the Pennine Chain. The best centres are around Melton Mowbray, Leicester and Loughborough.
In 1853, the southern part of its country was separated off to form the Fernie.
The adjoining hunts are the Meynell and South Staffs (to the north west), the South Notts (to the north), the Belvoir (to the north east), the Cottesmore (to the south east), the Fernie (to the south), and the Atherstone (to the south west).
Season and supporters
Hunting takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, in the autumn and winter months only. More open country is hunted on Mondays and Fridays, the most popular days, with usually between one hundred and one hundred and fifty mounted followers, plus about twice as many who follow hounds on foot and with cars and bicycles. The smallest number of followers is on Tuesdays. Over eight hundred farmers in the country of the Quorn allow the hunt to use their land. There is a Supporters' Association.
List of Masters
Although "hunting wild mammals with a dog" was made unlawful in England and Wales by the Hunting Act 2004, which came into effect in 2005, the Quorn Hunt says that it continues to operate within the law. A number of exemptions stated in Schedule 1 of the 2004 Act permit some previously unusual forms of hunting wild mammals with dogs to continue, such as "hunting... for the purpose of enabling a bird of prey to hunt the wild mammal".
- William Charles Arlington Blew, The Quorn hunt and its masters (London: John C. Nimmo, 1899, with illustrations by Henry Alken)
- William Scarth Dixon, The Quorn Hunt
- Lady Augusta Fane, Chit-Chat (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1926)
- Daphne Machin Goodall, Huntsmen of the Golden Age (London: H.F. & G. Witherby, 1956)
- Roy Heron, Tom Firr of the Quorn, Huntsman Extraordinary (Liss: Nimrod Book Services, 1984)
- Ulrica Murray Smith, Magic of the Quorn (London: J. A. Allen & Co., 1980)
- J. Otho Paget, Memories of the Shires (Methuen, 1920, republ. 2012)
- About the Hunt page at quornhunt.co.uk
- William C. A. Blew, The Quorn hunt and its masters (1899), p. 23
- Blew, op. cit., p. 47
- Quorn Hunt Kennels and Stabling, Quorn Park, Seagrave (Grade II) at charnwood.gov.uk
- Quorn Hunt Kennels at yell.com
- Blew, op. cit., passim
- Quorn Hunt at mfha.org.uk
- Blew, op. cit., Chapter IV at archive.org: 'Mr George Osbaldeston 1817–1821, 1823–1827'
- HMS Quorn at royalnavy.mod.uk
- QH Supporters Association at quornhunt.co.uk
- Saturday Wire Fund Club at quornhunt.co.uk
- Hunting Act 2004, text online at opsi.gov.uk
- Home page at quornhunt.co.uk
- Stephen Moss, The banned rode on: Eighteen months ago hunting was banned. Or was it? from The Guardian dated 7 November 2006, at guardian.co.uk, accessed 29 April 2013