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 continues to go out on four days of the week during the autumn and winter months.
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. They were established there by the hunt's second master, Hugo Meynell, who bought Quorndon Hall from the 4th Earl Ferrers.Following more than half a century under the leadership of Boothby, Meynell was Master for forty-seven years. He was known for his innovative mastery of fox hunting so that he has been called 'The Primate of the Science'.
In 1905 new kennels and stables were built at Paudy Lane, Seagrave; these are now listed buildings.The hunt's present-day kennels are at Gaddesby Lane, Kirby Bellars, near Melton Mowbray.
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 took place either by purchase or inheritance. The hounds are now said to be "owned by the country", that is, by the hunt organization.
George Osbaldeston, Master 1817–1821 and 1823–1827
Among many notable Masters was George Osbaldeston, who in 1823 became the first to return to the Mastership after having previously retired.
Three Hunt-class warships of the Royal Navy have been called HMS Quorn, after the Hunt.
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.
The hunt's 'Saturday Country' is around Belton, Staunton Harold and Kingston and has its own 'Saturday Country Wire and Damage Fund'.
George Osbaldeston (26 December 1786 – 1 August 1866), best known as Squire Osbaldeston, was an English politician who served as a Member of Parliament but who had his greatest impact as a sportsman and first-class cricketer.
He was born 26 December 1786 in Westminster, London, and named for his father, George Osbaldeston, a member of parliament for Scarborough. His father, born George Wickins, inherited the Hutton Buscel estates from his uncle Fountayne Wentworth Osbaldeston and adopted his name. Squire's mother, Jane, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Head of Langley Hall, Berkshire.
Osbaldeston spent his childhood at Hutton Buscel, the family estate in Yorkshire. His father died in 1793; from age 6, George and his three sisters were brought up by their mother, who despite being a great political hostess, was wildly extravagant and squandered much of his inheritance. He spent most of his life trying to recover from this poverty, mainly by trying to win bets and sporting competitions.
He was educated at Eton from 1802 until 1803, when he was expelled. Thereafter he studied at Brighton (1803–04), where his behaviour was little improved. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1805. The combination of his absolute avoidance of academic work (even by the standards of the day) and his rowdy behaviour (including incidents such as pouring hot gravy over the head of a fellow student he disliked during hall) meant that he narrowly avoided being sent down. Ultimately, he left Oxford without a degree in 1807. On the other hand, during his student days he excelled in all sports, setting a pattern for the rest of his life.
Osbaldeston excelled at sport, and rowed at his various schools, at Oxford and into middle age. He was particularly famous for his racing abilities, in flat, steeplechase, endurance and carriage races. In 1826, he won a celebrated steeplechase for a purse of 1,000 guineas on his horse, Clasher, against Dick Christian riding Clinker, a horse owned by Horatio Ross. On one occasion, in 1831 at Newmarket, he rode 200 miles (320 km) in 8 hours and 42 minutes, using 28 horses. On another occasion he wagered 100 guineas with Paul Methuen that he could drive a stage-coach from St. Paul's churchyard to Greenwich in an hour with a full complement of passengers. Osbaldeston won his bet, although the coach was loaded with a number of hefty Life-Guardsmen and despite being sent back from the bottom of Ludgate Hill for a false start. His last race was at the age of 69, and he also bred racehorses.
A noted shot at the Old Hat and Red House clubs, Osbaldeston there used a gun with a bore of 1½ inches. Sir Richard Sutton recorded that he once shot 98 pheasants with 100 shots. He brought his marksmanship to the track; on one occasion, when the notorious gambler Lord George Bentinck fired his pistol in the air while watching a race, Osbaldeston responded by shooting Bentinck cleanly through the hat as a warning.
In cricket, he was a fine all-rounder who batted and bowled right-handed, his bowling style being fast underarm. An outstanding Single Wicket player, he was chiefly associated with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) but he also represented Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. He played 34 important matches between 1808 and 1830 as an amateur. His highest score was 112 for M.C.C. v Middlesex in 1816, where Osbaldeston also scored 68 in the second innings. His record in important matches was 1002 runs at 18.21, 2 centuries, 43 wickets, 15 catches and 2 stumpings.
Above all though, his passion was fox hunting. He had his own pack of hounds from the age of 16, and was later master of nine hunts, notably the Atherstone (1815–17), the Quorn (1817–21, 1823–27), and the Pytchley (1827–34). He was regarded by contemporaries as one of the best sportsmen of his generation, and became something of a folk hero in later hunting circles.
An anecdote demonstrates the passion with which he pursued "the hunt":
"Just when, in 1809, the 24 year old fourth Lord Monson was warming to the task of keeping his pack of foxhounds amongst the best blood in the country, nature accounted for him. The gentlemen of Lincolnshire cast around for a new master and up turned one of those adventurous amateurs whose exploits with hounds and the ladies either break or make a hunt. George Osbaldeston was 25 and he soon fell out with everyone except the foxes which he pursued with great noise, energy, boastfulness, courage and determination, to the far corners of the country."
The money he made from racing wins were overshadowed by gambling debts of around £200,000 (equivalent to £1,842,835 in 2016), which eventually forced him to sell his lands in 1848 and led to his dying almost penniless. His will states that he left effects to the value of under ₤100.
He was also known for his romantic escapades, such as attempting to seduce a friend of his mother's, Lady Monson (an unrequited love affair, despite his claims that she was the one woman he had really loved), staying at the house of a friend and seducing both his daughters on the same night, and leaving a ball for two hours to pick flowers from his garden for a lady there. He was rumoured to have a son by a Miss Green, a prostitute, whom he sent abroad. He finally married an Elizabeth Williams in 1851 at the age of 65, most likely as he was then able to live in her Regent's Park house.
His relationship with his mother, Jane, was ambivalent. In his autobiography he claims that: "a cleverer woman never existed, not a better mother."By all accounts Jane doted on her only son. On the other hand, he resented her extravagance, her misuse of his inheritance, and her attempts to force him to pursue a political career. Ultimately, he exiled her to a house in London which he had bought.
He had a great rivalry with his fellow cricketer Lord Frederick Beauclerk. In 1818 this resulted in Osbaldeston being barred for life from membership of MCC (after an intemperate resignation in disgust at the outcome of a single-wicket match and despite the attempted intercession of E. H. Budd); this event effectively finished Osbaldeston's career in important cricket. He also fought a duel with Lord George Bentinck, in the aftermath of a race of 1831, the outcome of which was disputed. Neither was hurt and they were later reconciled.
Of his brilliant beginning and impoverished end, his great friend and rival Horatio Ross commented, "He was open-hearted and trusted others; he was constantly deceived and robbed, and when his affairs were getting into confusion, he had not the moral nerve to pull up in time; nor had he a sufficiently business-head on his shoulders to guide him safely out of his troubles."He died 1 August 1866 in St John's Wood, London.
In about 1812, Miss Ann Green of Lincoln (born about 1786) bore him a son, named George Osbaldeston Green. Mother and son were sent to Tasmania. George Green married a woman named Mary Ann Heastwood (b. Yorkshire 1819). Eventually George Osbaldeston Green and Mary Ann moved to the Gippsland area of Victoria. George was a butcher. They had 16 children, many of whom died in infancy or childhood; nevertheless ‘The Squire’ spawned quite a group of grandchildren. Their many descendants live mainly in Australia today. George Osbaldeston Green died in 1887 in Maffra, Victoria, and his wife Mary Ann died in 1908 in Heyfield, in the Gippsland region of Victoria.
Family historians report that Mary Ann Green was well-travelled and made some journeys to England, so whether there was contact maintained between "The Squire" and his Australian family is subject to speculation. Certainly their existence was known about, and recorded in Osbaldeston's autobiography.
Miss Green was described in George Osbaldeston's Autobiography as' a member of the frail sisterhood' (i.e., a prostitute). She was reputedly a natural (illegitimate) daughter of one of the Monson family. The boy was ‘sent abroad, has done well in the world, and is married with a family.’". No record of either the birth or death of Miss Green has been found.