Local History Society

 Memories - The Garth Hunt during WWII

The Garth Hunt

Perhaps surprisingly, Hunt meetings continued after a fashion throughout WWII. Here are a few articles from the 'Reading Mercury' covering the Garth Hunt:

October 14th 1939: 

Cubbing with the Garth:

Successful Morning from Carters Hill - Hounds Kill Badger

The Garth lady pack met on Wednesday at Carters Hill, when quite a number of followers turned up, including Lieut.-Col. F. G. Barker (ex-Master), Mr. Budd, Mrs. Spiller, Miss Alfrey, Mr. Bye, Mr. R. H. R. Palmer, ex-Master, Mrs. E. M. Sturges, Capt. Pawson, Mr. Dimond, M. Smith, Mr. J. H. Simonds and several others.

The Holt was the first draw, and hounds soon had cubs on the move. After working in cover for a time, a fox broke away across the meadows, and hounds were soon streaming along behind him. They crossed into a little cover near the brook, and went through Dog Kennels. Going over the road, they went across by Newlands Park to the top of the hill, and then turned left-handed by the cricket pitch into Bear Wood. They ran with quite a good scent all through the Bear Wood covers by the lakes, and turned right-handed into the bracken and fir trees in Bear Wood Park, quite close to the Coombes. It is quite probable that hounds killed their cub in the thick covers of Bear Wood, where it was difficult to tell what really happened.

Hounds were called out of Bear Wood, and taken back by the Mole down to the Holt at Carters Hill. This was drawn through again, but it was tenantless this time. Loaders Copse yielded a fox which soon crossed the lane and turned right-handed through Spring Copse, over the lane back into Loaders Copse, where, after a nice hunt, they marked him to ground.

The next draw was the Osier Bed, and a fox was viewed at the end of the osiers. He was headed back, but after a time he managed to break away, running through the other Carters Hill covers near the river, as if for the Gorse. He turned short left-handed into the Holt at Carters Hill. Hounds returned to Loaders Copse, and killed a cub and a badger weighing quite forty pounds. This was one of the best mornings hounds had had this season.

October 21st 1939:  The Hunt met at Barkham Square on the previous Wednesday.

November 25th 1939:

Hunting Notes – With the Garth Hounds – A Busy Day

The Garth lady pack met on Wednesday at the Mole, Arborfield. The Holt at Carters Hill was the first draw, and after a time a fox was found. He was viewed just outside the cover and turned back into the Holt again. Hounds spent a considerable time before they could put him on his legs, but eventually they got on the line of him. They hunted round the Holt before he broke away, as if for the Gorse, but turned towards Dog Kennel and on towards Arborfield Church. He turned back towards Arborfield Hall Gorse, and then towards Dog Kennel. Going on to Carters, and on through the Holt, crossing the lane through Spring Coppice, and into a small cover, and leaving Betty Grove on the right, he swung across the open meadows, and he eventually led hounds over the river into the South Berks territory. Reynard then ran down into the valley at Lower Earley, and up the hill into Maiden Erleigh.

Hounds were taken back into their own territory and found another fox near Sindlesham Mill. He also gave them quite a nice hunt. The Coombes yielded another fox, which was hunted away towards Newlands. After hounds had again found in the Coombes they were taken on into Bear Wood, where a fox got up just behind them. They were quickly on the line, hunting him into the Coombes, and then back into the Bear Wood side, where they nearly caught him. He got back to the Coombes, but they could do little more with him.

There was another local report the following week. The Garth met at different places in their area week by week, and on January 13th, 1940, there was both an article and a photo: 

Hunting Notes: With the Garth Hounds – Meet at Newlands

‘Col. F. G. Barker addressing members of the Pony Club at the meet of the Garth Hunt at Newlands, Arborfield’The Garth Lady pack met on Wednesday at Newlands, Arborfield, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Simonds. A large number of children belonging to the Pony Club were present at the meet, and Col. Barker addressed them on fox-hunting during the war. He gave them advice on their conduct in the hunting field, and urged them to consider the farmers’ crops and land. By so doing, they were helping the farmers themselves and the hunt.

Miss Effie Barker emphasised what had been said regarding studying the farmers’ crops and land. She added that if it was not for the kindness of the farmers during these most difficult times, it would be impossible for hunting to be kept going. Colonel Cook spoke on behalf of the Pony Club.

Mr. and Mrs. Simonds and Miss Stiles hospitably entertained all present at Newlands.

[This article was accompanied by a photograph captioned: ‘Col. F. G. Barker addressing members of the Pony Club at the meet of the Garth Hunt at Newlands, Arborfield’; Copyright 'Reading Mercury', used by permission]

On August 31st, the 'Mercury' mentioned a fund-raising effort for the ship named after the Hunt pack: 

H. M. S. Garth Comforts Fund – Show at Newlands, Arborfield

The horse and dog show held at Newlands, Arborfield, on Wednesday in aid of the fund to provide comforts for the ship’s company of H.M.S. Garth, was a great success. [Long list of winners].

The 'Times and Weekly News' of August 18th 1944 carried a long article on the history of the Garth Hunt.

Newsprint was both in very short supply and very expensive, so 'Hunting Notes' no longer appeared in the 'Reading Mercury', though 'Hunting Appointments' alerted those with time to spare so that they could follow the action. The long silence was broken on October 28th 1944 with this item:

Garth Hunt to Carry On: At the annual meeting held at Wokingham on Tuesday, it was agreed that the Hunt should be carried on in the same way as during the last five years. Colonel F. G. Barker and Miss Barker agreed to continue as acting masters.

After V.E. Day, things began to get back to normal. On September 15th 1945, the Mercury carried a long report with photographs of: 

‘Horse Show at Arborfield:  Prizes Presented by Lt.-Gen. Sturges’

Prizes were presented by Lt.-Gen. Sir Robert Sturges, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., R.M., at the two-day horse show held at “Newlands”, Arborfield, on Friday and Saturday last, in aid of the Garth Hunt funds. The show was organised by Mrs. J. H. Simonds, who is the sister of Lt.-Gen. Sturges. [Long list of prizewinners].

A couple of announcements showed that normality was returning:

September 22nd 1945:

Hunting Appointments: The Garth Hounds will meet Monday Sept. 24th, Warren House; Friday Sept. 28th, Mole, Arborfield. At 8 o’clock.

November 17th 1945:

Hunting Appointments:  The Garth Hounds will meet Monday Nov 19th, Warren House; Friday, Nov. 23rd, Walter Arms, Bear Wood (subject to foot-and-mouth disease restrictions being withdrawn). At 11 o’clock.

Back to 'Newspapers in Wartime' Main Page

Back to Memories Page


Any Feedback or comments on this website?  Please e-mail the webmaster