In 1776, Mr George Forester of Willey, with Tom Moody whipping in for him, started hunting part of Shropshire with the intention of reducing the number of foxes, founding the “Shropshire Hunt”. The hunt country changed over the following decades with the first master of the “South Shropshire Hunt” accredited as Mr J Cresset Pelham of Cound in 1820. During this period and up until 1929, the SSH was largely hunted with private packs of Hounds.
The current country of the SSH was formally founded in 1898 after the hunt country was split between a number of hunts. A keen young master, Mr James Dun Waters, arrived. Known as a great character, Dun Waters was master of the SSH until 1910. He bred his own pack of hounds that became known as the Golden Pack because they were thought to be worth “their weight in gold” when he sold them in 1910, as he was heading off to Canada. Mr S H Christy took over the mastership from Dun Waters bringing his own hounds which he kennelled at Plaish Hall. In 1912, Christy offered to continue as Master if kennels could be provided in the centre of the South Shropshire Country; at this time the hounds were hacked to meets as there were no lorries to transport them.
In 1913, following donations from over 50 hunt supporters and the Hunt cashing in two lots of shares that they held, Little Hanwood, Annscroft was purchased and work undertaken to build kennels on the site providing the South Shropshire Hunt Kennels.
Christy was succeeded by Lt. General Sir Edwin A.H. Alderson who was master from 1914 to 1923 with Wyndham Daniels as Kennel Huntsman. Between the two of them (and despite Sir Edwin Alderson having to be away a lot) they are credited with keeping the SSH a going concern with various committee members.
Major Fielden, Master from 1925 to 1929, was the last master with the SSH to have a private pack of hounds. In 1929, following the sudden resignation of Major Fielden, the SSH found themselves without both a Master and Hounds. It was at this time that the decision was taken to buy their own pack of hounds and find a new Master and it was Major Whitaker of Winsley Hall who took up the mantle. With huntsman Jack Molyneaux and Richard Warner, they started the subscription pack that have descendants working with the SSH today.
The hunt flourished over the following years, in 1957, the SSH had its first lady master Mrs Robinetta Fagan and Miss P McConnell who took over from Mr Eric Towler and Mr CJ Wingfield of Onslow. A rarity even today, Mrs Fagan was followed by another lady master Miss Pamela Strickland Skailes. It was in 1959, that the South Shropshire Hunt Supporters Club (SSHSC) was founded. Capitan Corbet, the Hunt Chairman at the time, took the role of Chairman of the Supporters Club and together with Norman Davis (Secretary and Treasurer) and Mrs Towler (assistant secretary) they built a series of fundraising events which supported the Hunt financially. Over the last 50 years the Supporters Club have continued to raise significant funds whilst also providing a busy and social backdrop for the hunt.
During the 70’s, there were a number of changes, both in mastership and in agriculture. Changes in farming at the time had a huge effect on hunting. Spring sown wheat and barley which had been the norm became superseded by winter sown barley which was much higher yielding. As a result, fields were ploughed and sown in Autumn, rather than ploughing taking place over the winter. In 1979, Mr Richard Tanner joined by Mr John de Quincey and Mr John Whittal took over the Mastership. The succession of Masters and professional huntsmen over the years, have ensured that the South Shropshire Hunt has very much kept the focus on the hounds and their hunting. The South Shropshire Hunt is forever indebted to its hardworking team of Masters and huntsmen.