The following press cuttings are from:
1 West Somerset Free Press 24.3.1954
2 West Somerset Free Press 3.4.1954
3 Country Life 12.5.1983
1 GREAT LOSS TO QUANTOCK STAGHUNTING
Death of Mrs. H. B. Wimbush - Master Since 1931
CLOSE OF A GLOWING PAGE IN THE HUNT ANNALS
Throughout the deer-land known as the Quantock country, from the Bagborough side, over the hill and down to the vale before the channel coast, there is sorrow at the death of a beloved Master of Staghounds
-Mrs. H.B. Wimbush, of Triscombe House, Crowcombe, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81. She has died in the 22nd season of a “reign“ that brought success and happiness to the old-established Quantock Staghounds Hunt, and supporters mourn the passing of a lady whose personality and charm at the head of affairs had united a sporting countryside. Her innate and unaffected friendliness towards all had greatly endeared her, and had been Instrumental In building up the general good will towards the Hunt.
Mrs. Wimbush passed away in a Bristol nursing home. She left Triscombe some weeks ago to undergo a serious operation, from which, to the delight of all, she at first appeared to be making an excellent recovery, and her first thoughts had been for the welfare of the Hunt. Her condition, however, became such that it was only possible for her to receive two old friends, Mr. Harold Worrall, who for many years was a tower of strength to her in the hunting field, and Miss Ida Conibeare, who had served her devotedly at Triscombe for almost 40 years.
Mrs. Wimbush was formerly Miss Emily Beatrix Cheetham. the only child of the late Mr. and Mrs. Francis Henry Cheetham, who came to the West Country many years ago and lived first at Tetton House, Kingston, and then at Combe Florey. Mr. Cheetham then had Triscombe House built, and in due time it became Mrs. Wimbush's home until her first marriage to an Army officer, Col. Dremel, with whom she travelled extensively during the first world war. Their home was in London. Some years after Col. Dremel's death Mrs. Wimbush married for the second time, and she and Mr. H. B. Wimbush took up permanent residence at Triscombe. Mr. Wimbush died during the last war. In spite of her age Mrs. Wimbush, until a few months ago, had been wonderfully active and alert to maintain her varied interests.
APPOINTMENT IN 1931
It was at the annual meeting of the Quantock Staghounds in May. 1931, that Mrs. Wimbush first spoke as Master of the Hunt, and expressed her desire to carry on the old traditions so worthily maintained by other Masters, including the immediate past-Master, the late Sir Dennis Boles, who had tendered his resignation after 13 years. Thus the Hunt secured its first lady Master, a break with tradition which probably caused some people to wonder about the success of the Quantock country under the new regime. But those who had approached Mrs. Wimbush in the first instance knew well what they were doing, and the kind of person they had selected to lead the Hunt. Some of the early doubts attendant upon Mrs. Wimbush's appointment was perhaps pardonable. Here was a lady who did not even ride to hounds. But Mrs. Wimbush had a great love of the Quantock country, respect for the hunting tradition, and an unflinching purpose, as she often declared, to “keep the gun off the hills and ensure the deer were fairly treated.” Never were doubts about the future more quickly dispelled. It is now history that the Wimbush regime was not only completely successful, but that the Master forged a great bond of affection between herself and countless people on both side of the hill. Throughout, she had excellent field masters, but she was never very far away from the Hunt herself, though not a rider to hounds, and for a couple of decades there was no more familiar car in the district than the veteran high-powered Austin, which, with the late Mr. George Whan at the wheel, carried the Master in the wake of the chase over road and rough track. Mrs. Wimbush spared neither purse nor energy in ensuring that the country was run on as near model lines as possible and her admirers included many non-hunting people who appreciated what she was trying to do for the sporting life of the district.
Her regime, establishing itself on a firm foundation of affection, had a crowning point in 1952. Mrs. Wimbush came of age' as Master of the Hunt, and her 21 seasons were marked with a great demonstration of loyalty and affection on Boxing Day, 1952, when the traditional meet was held on the Old Stowey road. Hundreds of people turned up to see Mrs. Wimbush presented with a book embossed with a stags head, and containing the names of 725 subscribers, a truly representative galaxy of faithful supporters. The book recorded with gratitude “the 21 years' sport Mrs. Wimbush has generously shown as Master,” and with the balance of the testimonial fund, which had reached £130 on a very limited subscription, was purchased a pair of field glasses for the Master's use.
HUNTING WINS THE FIGHT
It goes without saying that long before she took on the Mastership Mrs. Wimbush was a valued supporter of the Hunt, from the time in fact that Sir Dennis Boles took on the hounds about 1917. No appreciation of the Wimbush regime would be complete without some reference to the trials and difficulties of the war years, when, undaunted, the Master carried on the Hunt almost unaided. Her determination to keep the gun and rifle off the Quantocks if at all possible was already well known, and she adhered to her convictions in this respect. Pressure was put on the War Agricultural Executive Committee from one or two quarters to take shooting parties on to the hills, but the Master took no part in the arrangements. All she did was to send up a huntsman and hounds to find the deer. Happily, the steps suggested to reduce the deer with the gun were abandoned, and Mrs. Wimbush continued to carry on the Hunt as intensively as possible in the face of great difficulties, and, as she later said, in spite of the astounding conditions with regard to food rationing. At the end of the war there was a small herd still left on the hills, and the Master addressing her supporters in 1916, referred to the fight she had waged to keep tile gun away. She had told those who wanted to introduce the gun that if they desired to see the deer exterminated she would resign her Master-ship, but if they wanted to see the herd survive and would refrain from using the gun she would do her best to see that everything was all right. After that the question of war-time control of deer was left in Mrs. Wimbush's hands. Deer damage was negligible, and by earnest attention to the repair of fences the Hunt played its part in preserving crops from damage. The war over, the Hunt under Mrs. Wimbush`s continued leadership was able to recapture the happy spirit of the old days. In 1950 Mrs. Wimbush was made an honorary member of the Devon and Somerset Stag-hounds.
SWEPT THE FLOWER SHOW AWARDS
Mrs. Wimbush touched the life of the district at other points. A lover of horticulture, she caused the Triscombe gardens to be maintained in almost a perpetual state of glory, and her grounds were on numerous occasions the venue for the former Crowcombe and Bagborough flower show, and for Hunt puppy shows. The pride of the Triscombe culture was taken to other centres for show purposes, and Mrs.Wimbush won a tremendous number of awards at big exhibitions, including Taunton, where she was in the habit of “sweeping” various open sections. Chrysanthemums were outstanding among the Triscombe exhibits, and Mrs. Wimbush was a past president of the Bridgwater Chrysanthemum Society. She had also occupied a similar position with the Taunton Horticultural Society.
FRIEND OF EX-SERVICEMEN
The cause of the ex-Servicemen, as bound up in the British Legion, had a great supporter in Mrs. Wimbush. She was particularly anxious for the welfare of disabled ex-Servicemen, and regularly ran fete stalls for the sale of goods made by the disabled. Her close association with the Crowcombe and District branch of the British Legion and the Women's Section went back many years, and she founded and gave her name to the Wimbush Cup Shoot, which has always taken place in connection with the branch's annual fete, and did much to stimulate interest in small-bore rifle shooting. Indeed, the Interest taken by district teams in the Wimbush Cup competitions had a great bearing on the formation in the 1930's of the flourishing West Somerset Rifle League. Mrs. Wimbush was a past president of Bagborough Women's Institute, and was always ready to help local causes and organizations by her service or support.
Mrs.Wimbush was held in great affection by the children as they became initiated to the chase, and the formation of Pony Clubs to encourage riding and develop its skill enabled her to take deep personal interest in the up and coming young hunters. The president of the West Somerset Pony Club, she was always a familiar figure at rallies and gymkhanas, and many a young rider treasures a riding crop or some other appropriate prize, presented by Mrs. Wimbush. In other years Mrs. Wimbush was a keen golfer, and in the 1940s was made president of the Minehead Golf Club Ladies' Section, which office she held up to the time of her death. Agricultural shows also had a keen supporter in Mrs. Wimbush, and she was elected president of the 1935 Dunster Show.
Mrs. Wimbush was president at the time of her passing of the Taunton and Wellington branch of: the Society for the Welfare of Women and Girls. This was a social work in which she was deeply interested, and she was most active in the branch and a regular attendant at its meetings.
FUNERAL ON MONDAY
The funeral has been arranged for 2.30 p.m. on Monday at Bagborough Church, where Mrs. Wimbush regularly worshipped. It has been requested that there shall be no mourning, and that any flowers should be sent to Triscombe House
2 Hundreds Mourn a Master of Staghounds
MRS. WIMBUSH LAID TO REST AT BAGBOROUGH
Slowly and sadly, their pink coats and the heaped floral tributes nearby the only touch of colour on the grey March day, six Hunt servants bore the mortal remains of Mrs. Emily Beatrix Wimbush, of Triscombe House, well-loved Master of the Quantock Staghounds, to their last resting place, on Monday afternoon.
Motionless around stood what could be termed a hunting countryside in mourning. Men and women in all walks of life had come from far and near to pay their last respects to “Our Master,” and they were not only from Mrs. Wimbush's own country, but from other Hunts, representing a territory stretching from the vale of Taunton to the rolling hills of Exmoor and into Devon.
All had come out of the affection they had borne towards a `Master who had personified friendliness without distinction, and of whom it was often truly said that “she was the same to everybody.” As recorded in our last issue, Mrs. Wimbush died in her 82nd year in a Bristol nursing home, some weeks after an operation, and the Quantock Staghounds Hunt, so happily knit under her regime for 22 seasons, has received a blow which it will find hard to sustain.
Many who came to pay their last tribute could only get as far as the churchyard, some only as far as the entrance, for the Church of i St. Pancras, Bagborough, where the coffin was resting, was filled to overflowing long before the service w as due to commence. Those unable to gain admittance listened to the service as it came through loudspeakers hanging in trees, and joined reverently in the last offices.
The service was taken by the Rector of Bagborough (the Rev. G. L. Tuckermann), accompanied by the Vicar of Nether Stowey (the Rev. J Fernsby). Mrs. Wickharn was at the organ, and the service, the form of which was entirely arranged by Mr. Harold Worrall and the Rev. G. L. Tuckermann, included the Psalm, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills”, the hymns, “Love Divine, all loves excelling” and “Now the labourer's task is o'er,” and the “Nunc Dimittis.”
To a grave lined throughout by Mr. S. J. Farley (head gardener at Triscombe), assisted by Messrs. F.Watts, F. Sully, and F. Western, the coffin was borne by Six pink-coated Hunt servants, including Mr. Gilbert Sloley, Mrs. Wimbush's huntsman and friend for many a year, and the others were Messrs. J. Fisher (also Quantock Staghounds staff). J. Bailey (Taunton Vale Foxhounds). A. Giles (Devon and Somerset Staghounds). H.Lake (West Somerset Foxhounds, Quantock Pack). B. Wilkinson (West Somerset Foxhounds, Western Pack).
Also at the graveside were the standards of both sections of Crowcombe and District British Legion. in which Mr. Wimbush had taken so much interest, and they were carried by Mr. S. Duddridge and Mrs. W. Horsey respectively.
Tributes in the form of flowers were in magnificent profusion.
3 IN PURSUIT OF THE QUANTOCKS DEER
A SPRING HUNTING VISIT - II By J.N.P. WATSON
The red deer of the Quantocks were almost extinct by the 1850s when a knowledgeable naturalist, Morduant Fenwick Bisset, assumed the Mastership of the Devon and Somerset. It was he who then reintroduced them to those hills, and who first built kennels at Bagborough house, a few miles north -west of Taunton, from which to hunt them.
His successors in the D & S, according to Philip Everard (hunt historian and D & S secretary), continued to make “flying visitations” to the Quantocks, but that was not enough to control and protect the deer. As we have seen, Sir John Heathcoat Amory's hunt took on the responsibility for the Quantocks, as well as the Tiverton area, in the 1890s. But that arrangement was not adequate.
Then, in 1901, Mr E. J. Stanley, of Quantock Lodge, the MP for Bridgwater and a large landowner on the Over Stowey side of the country, came forward with the offer to maintain a pack expressly to hunt the Quantocks deer, with his son, Edward, then aged 22, to carry the horn. The D & S committee and the Master, who was then Robert Sanders, agreed and made over the country on permanent loan. By May, 1902, Edward Stanley reported to the D & 5 committee a list of 36 deer accounted for. Within two more years his seasonal tally was up in the 70s. But, writing a few years later, Everard recorded that: “In August, 1906, Mr E. A. V. Stanley accepted the Mastership of the Devon and Somerset, as from Mr R. A. Sanders' retirement in May, 1907, so that the Quantock Staghounds from that date have ceased to exist as a separate pack, while the old visiting arrangement is being reverted to, and will be found to answer for all purposes for several years to come.
Come the Great War, however, the D & S hounds failed to reach the Quantocks deer.. Given no hunting, “by 1917 they had increased so much”, the Exmoor historian, E. T. MacDermot relates, “and their depredations on the surrounding farms became so serious that their total extermination was proposed”. But the sequel was not so dismal. `Colonel Dennis Boles, of Watts House, Bishop's Lydeard, the
Master of the West Somerset Foxhounds”, MacDermot goes on “persuaded the Food Controller to allow him sufficient feed for a few couple of staghounds, with which he undertook to reduce their numbers sufficiently to meet the farmers' complaints.
“This he successfully did, and so preserved enough deer for hunting to the great satisfaction of the neighbourhood, where staghunting has always been very popular. Indeed, the only objection to his proposal, and one not to be taken too seriously, came from a local landowner, who grumbled that his men invariably left their work to go hunting on days when the staghounds were about.” By 1919, Sir Dennis Boles, 1st baronet, soldier and MP for West Somerset, with his foxhunting and deerhunting commitments, was out with hounds six days a week.
He remained in office, keeping the entire establishment at his own expense until 1931. He died five years later.
His successor was an artist's wife, Mrs. Wimbush, who lived at Triscombe, an imposing house with a pink-washed façade and a splendid southerly view, close to the kennels which Sir Dennis had built at Bagborough in1921. When Mrs. Wimbush was offered the Mastership, she only consented, to quote a contemporary newspaper report, “to ensure the survival of the Quantocks deer and that they are taken without cruelty . . . and on the understanding that Mr Harold Worrall, Sir Dennis's field Master and honorary secretary would continue in office”.
She thus became the first woman Master of Staghounds.
Not having ridden since she was a girl she always followed by car, but generally contrived still to be well up with the hounds by the end of the day.
The Quantock continued very happily under Mrs. Wimbush for the next 23 years, that is to say until her retirement in 1954, when Sir Dennis Boles's 23 year-old grandson, Sir Jeremy, the 3rd baronet, took over, hunting hounds himself until 1959. He then found he could no longer make ends meet on the guarantee. In 1960, Mr Lawrence Preston, a former Master and huntsman of the Taunton Vale Harriers and of Co. Tipperary's Ormond hunt, accepted the Master's cap, took up residence at the kennels and hunted hounds - but for only two seasons, before retiring in the D & S country.