826 Providence Rd.,
Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355.
The first opening day for the Radnor Hunt in their new Brandywine Country took place on Nov. 5. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Piola at Iron Horse Farm hosted this historic meet.
My father, George Hundt, when MFH of Radnor, often took me along for a day with the Brandywine Hounds in this spectacular country. So I looked forward to the first day of a new era and to rekindling some wonderful old memories.
As the Radnor hounds arrived on the main drive, a steady rain began to fall, but this did nothing to dampen the spirits of the mounted field or car followers. Radnor member Glenn Price, who passed trays, loaded with port and sherry stirrup cups, helped keep spirits high.
Radnor Huntsman Noel Ryan, whipper-in Patricia Hueber and MFH Christian Hueber II each wore the traditional brown or “fig” coats, visually signifying a historic circle of events.
Charles E. Mather, founder of the Brandywine Hounds, was MFH of Radnor from 1897 to 1901. The early history of both hunts is closely intertwined as he first established his private pack, Mr. Mather’s Hounds, while at Radnor in 1890. For the next 11 years, Mather hunted his own English hounds as well as the Radnor Crossbred pack in the Radnor Country. At that time, the official livery for both the Radnor and the Mather packs was brown.
In 1901, the two packs became separate hunts when Mather moved to Brandywine Meadow Farm and renamed his pack the Brandywine Hounds. After the 1920s, brown livery gradually fell out of fashion at Radnor, but it continued at Brandywine until they disbanded in 2003.
Now that Radnor is hunting the Brandywine country, they’ve revived the tradition of brown livery. By reconnecting with their past traditions, Radnor members are also able to pay tribute to the Brandywine Hounds.
At the meet, I was pleased to see former Brandywine subscribers Jackie Wood, Betsey Reber, Kirk Harman, Jena Korrell and Ron and Susan Sacks. Both Radnor fieldmasters Anson W.H. “Lance” Taylor III and Esther Gansky were present, as well as Nia McNeil, Allison Carabasi and our newest subscriber John Casey. Further continuing the long Mather association with Radnor is whipper-in Nancy Bedwell, daughter of Cindy Sullivan Bedwell and granddaughter of Jane Mather Sullivan, former joint masters of Brandywine.
Hounds moved off at 10 a.m. sharp as Ryan cast his 16 couple in an extensive draw through Baker’s Woods toward the west. The staff and hounds were visible through the stately orange of the remaining beach tree leaves. The rain and fallen leaves made for difficult scenting conditions, so the woods were drawn blank.
Hounds eventually found in the open near the Brandywine Hills race tower and persevered on a moderate line, speaking intermittently, through a small covert and into Battin’s woods.
There, hounds must have come up on their fox as they opened with great cry and pushed the quarry west across the Brandy-wine Hills point-to-point course. The field viewed a second fox running a line back toward Battin’s Woods, passing just behind the horse of an unsuspecting whipper-in who was focusing on the hunted fox.
The field then fell behind, having lost time while a loose horse was caught at the farthest corner of a cow pasture. But our Brandywine Fieldmaster Georgia Brutscher soon had us back in the chase, as hounds pressed on through the Stoltzfuss’ woods in thick cover along the Pocopson stream. They then turned left-handed across the fields to Cousins’ pond.
Working hard in the woods below the pond, they pushed the hunted fox into the open just behind the mounted field. Carl J. “Bunny” Meister, who was whipping in, had slyly positioned himself forward and viewed the hunted fox away for the third time on that run.
Hounds followed Reynard into Bailey’s swamp, were briefly foiled by fresh slurry on the fields, but struck the line back through Cousins and across Wickersham’s toward Walter Stewart’s farm. The field followed, jumping the chicken coops through the Stoltzfuss’ woods and galloping along the cart path on the Wickersham farm. Hounds checked in the woods below the corn maze before being viewed back by the huntsman.
Once again, another fox ran a right angle, this time directly in front of the full field. A debate ensued as to whether the fox was mangy or merely had a wetted-down tail. The thoroughly soaked members of the field leaned toward the latter hypothesis. Our overseas visitor, Baron Andreas von Haberbeck, from the County Limerick Hounds (Ireland) and no stranger to the damp, declared that this was just another fine Irish day.
Two More To Conclude
Hounds turned back on the line of the hunted fox, but with increasing rain, then picked slowly through the Stewart woods toward the Brandywine Valley Association, where they checked in the open at the southwest corner of the racecourse. Ryan cast his hounds around the field and along the hedgerow to recover the line as visiting MFH Hugh Robards, huntsman of the Rolling Rock Hounds (Pa.), observed pensively. The fox, now well ahead, had probably continued across the racecourse and back to Battin’s Wood. But the temperature had dropped, and hounds could no longer own the line in the open.
As nothing more could be done with the first fox, hounds were taken across the main road to the next draw below Fulton’s hill. Shortly after the first cast in the multiflora thicket, the now familiar doubling of the huntsman’s horn signaled another fox.
The field galloped along a bluff overlooking the west branch of the Brandywine with the Octarara Railroad beside it. Our quarry was seen running eastward, across Bragg Hill Rd. and into a hedgerow on Frog Hollow Farm.
Hounds worked the line tenaciously on failing scent and finally threw up in the middle of a bean field above the old Brandywine kennel. A large circular cast toward the kennel failed to regain the line. Scent was clearly getting worse, as was the weather. Therefore, after three hours, the master decided to call it a day.