Hounds are known to have hunted the area around Ledbury on the Hereford and Gloucestershire border for at least 300 years. The Ledbury Hunt is presently constituted and can trace its origin to 1846 when, according to the original minute book it was decided to set up the hunt ‘on a respectable footing’ and a committee was formed. A huntsman was engaged to hunt 14 couples of hounds, five days a fortnight. In 1868 Kennels were built adjacent to the Ledbury Railway Station where they remained until 1938 when the present site at Bromesberrow was established.
The Hunt has been fortunate over the years in its choice of Masters. A particularly notable period was during the Mastership of Sir George Bullough 1908-1927 when apart from the intervening war years the Hunt prospered as never before. Sir George lived in grand style at The Down House, Redmarley and it is recorded that at that time the Hunt was the largest employer in Ledbury with forty full time staff.
In 1949 Squire Yorke of Forthampton Court made an inspired choice in engaging the services of Nimrod Champion as professional huntsman. Nimrod’s father Bob had hunted the hounds before the war and his four sons had grown up in Ledbury country. As a worthy successor to a brilliant father, Nimrod kept intact the Ledbury’s reputation as one of the best two-day-a-week packs in the country. He was one of the most respected and senior huntsmen in England when he died aged 59 in 1983.
Subsequently members were fortunate to enjoy good sport and a lot of fun with hounds being hunted first by James Daly and then Nigel Wakley both really first class men across country. In 1995 John Holliday was engaged to hunt hounds. John, who had experienced an excellent upbringing at the Belvoir and Quorn, proved himself to be a top professional and we were sad to see him leave in June 2010. Will Goffe then joined us leading the Ledbury hounds for a few good seasons, after which he took the opportunity to return to his home hunt with the Warwickshire. We now have a new huntsman Mark Melladay who comes to us with the highest recommendations and we look forward to seeing him continue the high standard of hound management and hunting set by his predecessors.
The iniquitous ban on hunting introduced in 2005 has led to a different form of hunting and it has been hard work for the Joint Masters and Hunt Staff to ensure continuity but within the law. None of this would be possible without the support of a large number of enthusiastic people of whom the farmers and landowners are the most important. There is every confidence that the ban will eventually be overturned and traditional ways of hunting in the Ledbury Country will be restored.