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The Hampshire Hunt and The Prince of Wales

In addition to collecting hunt buttons for their sheer beauty, their history – both social and personal – has always interested me.

How and why did such-and-such a hunt choose their design?  Why did a particular Master change an old-established design, and how was that change perceived?

For instance, it is reported that, when Lord Lonsdale changed the Quorn Hunt button, to feature his coronet, members were so aggrieved that they turned up at the first meet without any buttons at all on their hunt coats, in protest.

One of the better-known stories behind a hunt button is that of the Hampshire Hunt (HH) and its use of the Prince of Wales’s ostrich feathers badge.

Hampshire Hunt Brass Button

I recently bought some old letters that formed a brief correspondence between the HH and the office of the (then) Prince of Wales in 1901.

The first two images are the draft of the letter that was sent from the HH.

 

 

The transcript of the letter reads:

Sir,

The members of the Hampshire Hunt (The H.H.) beg respectfully to bring to the notice of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales the following circumstances.

In the year 1788, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, later King George IV, whilst residing at Kempshott Park in this County kept a pack of foxhounds, and the gentlemen hunting with this pack were allowed, by His Royal Highness, to wear a button with the Prince of Wales’ crest thereon and the letters “H.H”.

This pack has been continued to this day, and on His Majesty the King attaining his majority as Prince of Wales in the year 1863 a petition was presented from the Hampshire Hunt to His Royal Highness, praying to be allowed to continue the privilege of wearing Prince of Wales’ crest on their Hunt button, which privilege was graciously accorded.

By the rules of the Hunt, a special meeting must be held for this purpose, and accordingly a meeting has been held on Nov 30th at Herriard Park, where the members of the Hunt determined to respectfully pray His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales to allow them to continue the use of His Royal Highness’s crest on their Hunt button as in former years, and the members of the Hunt beg that you will lay this petition before His Royal Highness.  A list of the members of the Hunt is herewith enclosed.

We have the honour to be, Sir

Your Obedient Servants

Signed:

F.M.E. Jervoise Chairman

Reginald Pole – Major Hon. Sec. H.H.

Reply

Here is the reply Maj. Pole received  from St James’s Palace.

 

Reading these letters triggered a memory, that I have had a button in the collection for some time that had puzzled me.

 

 

This pre-1894 button was made by Firmin, and bears a Royal Prince’s crown and HH, though as can be seen, details on the reverse have been ground out.  Which is standard procedure when a button’s design is not approved.

Trying to get to the bottom of this mystery I turned to Adrian Dangar’s superbly researched volume on the history of the Hampshire Hunt  (The Hampshire Hunt 1749-2022 – reviewed here The Hampshire Hunt 1749-2022 Book Review) where we learn at p20, that:-
Before giving up the Kempshott estate which led directly to the demise of the short lived Royal Kempshott Hunt, the future King George IV bestowed on the Hampshire Hunt an honour that has been renewed by successive heirs to the throne. In recognition of the close fellowship of his Hampshire friends and gratitude for the sport he had enjoyed across their land the Prince of Wales granted Members of the Hampshire Hunt the right to wear the three ostrich plumes from his heraldic crest on their Hunt buttons.

The original button in 1783 was made of silver and inscribed with the initials HH. In 1785 the button was changed to brass with the same letters until adopting the Prince of Wales’s ostrich plumes.  The awarding of this honour also ensured that the role played by the Prince’s own hounds in the county’s history would be acknowledged for evermore.

This is an early silver button of the correct period, that is generally believed to be that first, original HH button. Although it needs verification.

However, Adrian also notes that:-

“In the past it was the custom for the Hon. Secretary to write to the Prince of Wales requesting permission to use his feathers only when a new PoW was created (by the ascension of the previous one to the throne) but definitely not on annual basis. 

Following Adrian’s note above, an approach has been made to the current Secretary of the HH to establish whether permission has been created by the new Prince of Wales for continued use of the feathers. We will keep you informed of developments.

‘Firebrand’

 

 

 

 

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