The Burton Hunt Kennels at Reepham
The Burton Hunt dates back to at least 1672 and until 1848 the hunt was based in Burton. However in 1842 Lord Henry Bentinck, fourth son of the Duke of Portland, became masterand he decided new kennels were needed. He opened them in 1848 in Reepham on the site of what are now the residences called the Old Kennels. They were a lavish affair with a covered ride, a Turkish bath which could accommodate eight horses at a time and room for over 200 hounds and a hundred horses which were the best that money could buy. Bentinck bid £1500 for The Colonel, winner of the Grand National to ride as a hunter paid £600 for a horse called Shropshire plus a £100 a year as long as he rode it.
Bentinck would spend six days a week hunting in the area which extended from Gainsborough, West Rasen and Hinton in the north to Scopwick and Brant Broughton in the south. On becoming master he lived at the family seat, Welbeck Hall near Mansfield. This meant he would make a 60 miles round trip each day using three galloping hacks just to arrive at Reepham Kennels and then he would go out hunting. He later moved into the Great Northern and White Hart Hotels in Lincoln. He stood down as master in 1863.
The Kennels in Reepham provided employment for local people, although some of the more specialised jobs, such as the Huntsman who was responsible for the pack, were filled by bringing in leading personnel from around the country. William Nicoll was one such import. He was born in Shropshire the son of a huntsman and plied his trade in Cleveland and Yorkshire before coming to Reepham in 1889 where he worked for the Master, Col. Thomas Wilson. In the village there were positions in the Kennels forKennelmen, Hounds Feeders, Whippers in, Kennel Assistants, Grooms and Earth Stoppers, blacksmiths plus domestic posts such as a cook and a nurse maid. In 1881 there were 21 people living in the Kennels including the families of the workers.
One of the longest serving members of the Hunt in Reepham was Samuel Cridge, a Kennelman, who hailed from Somerset but spent most of his life in Reepham where died in 1940 aged 94. Samuel was an expert feeder and breeder of hounds and worked with the Hunt from the 1880s until he retired. He was particularly respected by Col. Wilson who also gave credit to George Marshall, the studsman, William Nicoll, the Huntsman, and Tom Ward the Earth Stopper- a huge figure at 18 stones.
After Lord Bentinck stood down as master in 1863, Lord Doneraile took over for a year before Henry Chaplin became the master until 1871. Chaplin bought the pack for £3500. He was well connectedas MP for Lincoln, ran a string of racehorses and entertained many guests at the Hunt including the Prince of Wales. In 1871 Chaplin split the Hunt and the southern area was used to form the Blankney Hunt. The Hunt continued to be well managed under Will Dale Huntsman to the new master, Frank Foljambe(1871-1880).
However by 1889 when Col Wilson took on the post of master the Kennels at Reepham were needing repair. Wilson was concerned about the mist which collected in the hollow by the Beck where the Kennels were located. He noticed some kennel lameness in the hounds and would take them to Gibraltar Point for the sea air and exercise on the sands. In 1890 he decided to relocate the Kennels to Riseholme using the same design as Bentinck had devised for Reepham.
The Kennels at Reepham continued as residences for Hunt staff, notably the Cridge family Samuel’s son, Charlie, lived in the Old Kennels until 1980 when he died aged 95. The interior of the Kennels was much as it was in the period before the first World war with a range fire heating a back boiler. At that point the front house, barn and land was purchased by Hugh Walsh of Vere Developments from Louisa Cridge and Norah Morrison. Hugh Walsh sold the front house to Roy Austin who modernised it. Vera Developments built two houses and a bungalow as well as modernising the barn on what is now Kennel Walk.