A Piece From The Past

This article was written by the then Joint Masters Neil Wates and Nigel Budd, founders of the Coakham Bloodhounds, back in 1979.
With the advent of motorways and the intensification of agriculture many parts of England, particularly in the South East, are becoming difficult if not impossible for foxhounds to hunt effectively. More and more 'no go' Hunt areas are springing up which foxes can enter freely but hounds and followers venture into at their peril.

The demand to enjoy the ancient sport of riding to hounds continues to increase whilst the capacity of the country-side to meet it decreases. We therefore felt that there was a creative opportunity to found a new Hunt in the South East which would combine all the arts of venery together with a controllable quarry.


We looked at various possibilities before finalising on hunting 'the clean boot' - i.e. the unadulterated human scent - with crossbred bloodhounds. Basically we feel that this is the least artificial method of hunting organised quarry. We derive great pleasure from watching - and listening to - bloodhounds at work: but the pure bloodhound is a noted individualist very difficult to pack and rather too slow in open country. We therefore chose a bloodhound crossed fellhound which has far greater speed, remarkably improved jumping ability and yet keeps the deep voice and marvelous scenting powers of the pure bloodhound. Having started in 1976 with 21/2 couple we now have seven couple of entered hounds and 16 unentered puppies.


Our season opens in late September: we hunt three days a fortnight - Sundays and alternate Thursdays. A typical day will start at 1.30pm and will consist of three hunts of up to five miles each. We usually work with the same quarry - an experienced cross-country runner - and only one member of the field usually will know the route he has taken. Ideally this person is not the Huntsman but it is essential that one person does know the route since should the hounds lose the scent completely we can scarcely go and draw the next wood in the hope of flushing out an unsuspecting hiker!


Our overall objective is to provide our mounted followers with the traditional thrill of riding across natural country behind a driving pack of hounds, to provide our foot-followers with an exciting view of the same and to treat our farming hosts with that same knowledgeable consideration and courtesy that their generosity demands of every hunting man.


A Tribute to the Late James Ramus
by Katrina Arnold


As the new Honorary President of the Coakham Bloodhounds, it is privilege for me to write a tribute to James who served as our President for more years than I can remember.


My history with the Bloodhounds dates back to 1988 and James joined us in the early 1990s, at which time the Ramus hunting contingent comprised octogenarian “Pop” Ramus who followed on foot and was hugely knowledgeable, James and Joy, his wife, and a very youthful Alex, who grew up to be our current Master Alex Wheeler.  Today James’s lovely grand daughters hunt regularly in our field and thus the dynasty continues.


James was a quiet, almost shy, man.  At first he seemed reserved and distant but that masked an incredible all seeing eye, quick and astute judgement, and a warm and friendly disposition both on and off the hunting field.


James let us make free with his farm.  Many a time we have enjoyed the orchards in bloom on our Spring rides and quietly cursed the sharp turns required at the end of the apple tree rows on wet winter days.  James viewed the country with the eye of the farmer and had a deep affinity with it and the hounds as they worked over it.


Even in his later years James liked to hunt at the front.  He was blessed with some excellent hunters and appeared fearless.  Never arrogant, he would encourage those having a wobble and probably saved many a day with his have a go attitude.  Indeed the newly established “James Ramus Give It Some Welly Memorial Award” sums him up perfectly and was awarded for the first time this year to Mrs Jane Baker for regaining her nerve on the hunting field after a nasty fall. 


I don’t think I ever saw James as anything other than even tempered in the field, even if ridden off or crowded. In that respect, and in so many other ways, he was a perfect hunting gentleman.


His will be large wellies to fill and I hope I will do his legacy justice.  I am sure he is already upfront in heaven, hands resting on his hunter’s neck, saying to St Hubert “they are all on, and they are right”.  We will miss him.

Tributes to Major Nigel Budd


We are sad to report that Major Nigel Budd, one of the founders of the Coakham Bloodhounds, died in July 2009. Famous for his courage across country, it was a brave rider who followed him over the hedges! Nigel was a keen supporter to the end, even driving his invalid vehicle along the main roads to meets when he no longer had a car licence.


From Francesca Murray ( Hosie ): Living in Ireland for the last twenty years I often reminisce about the past. I was very sad to hear that that Major Nigel Budd had passed away especially as I had only seen and spoken to him in March. I was visiting the UK and had been with a friend for lunch when on encountering a roundabout near to Uckfield, we saw the Major whizzing around and up the road to the town in his mobility vehicle. He seemed to be enjoying himself and was oblivious to the heavy traffic. I flagged him down and had a bit of a chat with him, mainly about his favouite aunt Mary Isacc.  I worked for M J I as he called her back in the mid seventys at Trulls Hatch and hunting was the main focus of the place and Henry a big rangy grey his favorite horse of the time. Those were the days when you could ride on the roads and lead two horses and where cars would slow down for you. I remember Buzby his very polite poodle who was never clipped and of course the red Alfa Romeo open top sports car, that we girl grooms would be sometimes lucky enough to get a lift into Tunbrige wells. 

Happy memories of my teens and a byegone era. Rest in peace dear Major Budd.

From Orlando Wells:


Great Nigel Budd

By Michael Wells


In glory days you flew
Leaping where few
Could follow
Or knew the music
Only you could hear
Gun deafened – one good ear


In swallow tail scarlet -
scrubbed tops
Scarce touching earth


The feint 'halloa'
Crafty turn of the fox
And come the crashing sound
a light scream of hounds
No Master - no Huntsman
floored or left left floating


That way Major
A crossing Royal Military Canal
We leapt in and swam out
I looked back - and there was a hat
boots floating
Antony's Fatty upside down?
Do Hope they don't drown


Iron fences and cattle trough
from concrete take off
All taken in your stride -
Battered shining silk
yellow waistcoat
Horses - none could break
or ride
Ridiculous names
Boney Dozey Bert Henry


In glory days you flew
Leaping where few
Could follow - or knew
Great Nigel Budd
Horseman - friend - best of men
There - just out in front
As you'll always be
of me. . .


From Johnny Cowper-Coles: I first met the Major in the 1970's as an impressionable teenager and had regular jumping lessons from him as well as following the Coakham Bloodhounds when they were first formed.


He was a larger than life character who once described one of my more excitable horses as "having petrol pouring out of its ears" and I think the same could be said of him. He rode his horses like he commanded his tank over the dunes in the Western Desert going straight and over the largest obstacle regardless of the landing. I remember him saying how his Italian riding instructor kept telling him to" Piano" but his reply was he could not get his horse to "bloody piano" and that's how he lived his life.


His cross country lessons were anything but conventional and I still have some cine film of him jumping alongside me over a sizeable hedge in a trilby hat which needless to say flew off when in full flight. On one occasion when my horse took exception to a rather nasty tiger trap he produced a bull whip and proceeded  to follow me on foot  into the jump cracking the whip behind me......not exactly Pony Club manual stuff but effective.

He told me how when he first collected the Bloodhounds he drove back through London parking on the pavement outside Swaine Adeney Brigg in Piccadilly and explaining to the astonished lady behind the counter he needed a hunting horn immediately as he had a pack of Bloodhounds outside the shop which if she did not see she could certainly hear!


He clearly found traditional Fox hunting in Kent a little too slow and on the rare occasions he came out he and Neil Wates would often disappear in the opposite direction to the field over some large jumps only to appear later like two naughty school boys after an adventure out of school bounds. Above all Nigel Budd made riding and hunting fun and I  feel lucky and privileged to have known him. 


From Gayle Schumacher [Mayers] and Jennifer Patty {Cole}  Both of us met Nigel Budd in the late 1960's when he was at Trulls Hatch, Rotherfield. There are no words to describe the knowledge, enjoyment and confidence he gave us on our ponies and for life in general. Both of us state quite categorically that he influenced our life more than our own fathers did! The successes and experiences we had competing, hunting and especially in our lessons could not be documented here. Sadly neither of us can be at his funeral.... Jennifer, because she is going [veterans] show jumping in Austria, damm the man for encouraging my horsey interest and Gayle is in Switzerland with her family.  Along with all the financial papers she reads [as Head of Investments at Coutts], Horse and Hound is still top of her list. Bless you Nigel we will never forget you or our youth.

From Richard Bramwell: I first met Nigel in 1976. At the time I was a very novice rider who had bought at Ascot sale an ex-chaser that had just finished 3 seasons with the Quorn. I hoped to astonish the world with this horse – which I did but not in a nice way. On meeting Nigel and seeing his new set up at Coakham Farm, I thought this could be the man to show me where I am going wrong. It took him a couple of minutes to see this was a 1 st class horse with a 4 th class rider. He got out his own horse and said “follow me”. He then rode over the new schooling fences with my horse close behind. When this was over I was both shaken and stirred and he said “If I may say so, you have just climbed Everest!” I doubt whether it would have occurred to anyone else to attempt this form of tuition but it had a magical effect.


Later that year he and Neil Wates founded the Bloodhounds and I was fortunate to be out at some of the earliest meets. I was very much a novice in the hunting field and Nigel was always able to offer correction in the most charming way imaginable, never a cross word and always a positive suggestion for improvement. He had more leadership qualities than anyone I have known and he inspired profound affection and respect from all.

The head injury he sustained at a hunter trial deprived him of the mastery of equestrian skills he had formerly possessed, and this must have been a source of immense frustration, but he bore his misfortune with great good humour. I am proud to have known him. Richard Bramwell

From Caroline Richardson: I was out with Nigel and Neil when they first invited people to hunt with the Coakham. In those days they did not walk the country, and just went anywhere - which could be quite hairy as you just jumped whatever got in the way!
Nigel was quite awesome on a horse. He trained in Italy with the legendary show jumpers the D'Inzeo brothers in the 1950's - at a time when they dominated the world of international showjumping. He was incredibly bold across country, but equally good training young riders where he was always very encouraging. Out hunting he would jump anything, often in and out of peoples gardens just for the fun of it!
At the Scurry in the spring he and I had a good reminisce about the past - I told him my teeth were still chattering from the day I followed his hoof prints over a hedge. I knew I had to kick hard at the hedge, suspecting a ditch, but neither my horse nor I had any idea there was a river on the other side. My poor mare was peddling in mid air and we just made it to the bank. When I finally caught him, Neil and Dot Taylor up, Nigel grinned and asked if I had been where they had been - "Ah. Then you have jumped the Kent Ditch!" he laughed.


From Katrina Arnold: My memory is of watching Nigel ride his difficult loader into his Rice trailer.  I was Secretary then with my Mum and we watched mouths agape as this manoeuvre was attempted - successfully I might add but death defying all the same!

Tributes to John Lloyd (Master 1988-96)


From Nigel Dean, Athens, Greece: I watch the web site from time to time and it pleases me to see the prevailing success of the Coakham Bloodhounds in 2009.


It therefore saddened me greatly to hear of the death of John Lloyd and the passing of Nigel Budd in the same summer. Nigel had a great innings, led some great fields … jumped some enormous hedges and the Major will gallop on in our memories even in the dark as he did on earth during one famous hunt back over the Surrey hedge lines. Never forget horses can see at night.


For John we must all feel in a sense that we failed him. He alone preserved the spirit of the Coakham during the difficult days and encouraged the new blood (I was one of them) to lift the torch and keep it all working. His enthusiasm was contagious to the point that a little like him, the weekends became the most important days of the week. Summers were the interval between hunting with the bloodhounds. He pushed me into the committee, the chairmanship and later the mastership and as Linda has explained he was in the background as support.


On a lighter note I wish to tell you all of one amazing days hunting stepping around the strawberries in north Kent very early in my bloodhound career when the field suddenly crossed the East Peckham road to charge through a small copse, jump a small hedge after which you were shocked to realize you were facing an enormous 6ft drop. The screams were terrifying because you couldn’t see it coming. John was sitting under the hedge laughing his head off with such a smile of delight…..that’s the spirit of bloodhound hunting. Personally I will always remember him well and he made a great contribution to my life by introducing me to the bloodhounds. 


From Katrina Arnold: I was so desperately, desperately sad to arrive home form holiday to learn John Lloyd had died.  I saw him by chance only recently, when he came to my yard to fit a saddle, but I was on my way out as he was on his way in so our chat was brief.  How sad we will never have the chance to have the "proper catch up" we promised ourselves.  


John was a great encouragement to me as a follower of the hounds.  Some days he would cheer me on to try the bigger fences and other days he would mention, very tactfully, the way round. Even on the days it went wrong he seemed to be able to fix it with the landowners and watching him "open" country was a revelation.  I recall one occasion where I told him the landowner was an adamant "no", but he breezed in with me in tow and came away with a lovely new hunt. John had such energy and enthusiasm.  He will be greatly missed. 

From Linda Thompson: John was a wonderful Master of the bloodhounds. Always friendly and encouraging to the field, even to the tea being served out of the back of his lorry. With his horse looking on as we ate!


The landowners trusted him, which made it possible for us not to cancel, no matter what the weather. It was because of John that I took on my mastership. We walked many miles together finding ways around the country. He tried to make it good hunting for the hounds and good sport over as many fences as possible for the field. We often finished Saturday night in the dark still cutting hedges, using his mobile phone light to see!


Often while the hunt had tea he would be out sorting out the country so stock could go back out that night. I feel feel very privileged to have worked with him for more than 15 years. He never let me or the hunt down, even to helping me in the background when he was no longer a master. 


Everyone was made welcome by John. He and his horses could always give a wonderful lead. Before I was a master I used to watch John and go where he did, as he knew every inch of the country and keep his horse safe. John was always there to help anyone in the field if they got in trouble. He loved watching hounds work. 


John is one of the reasons the Coakham is the successful hunt it is today. We will miss him and remember him. Me especially. 

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© Jane Hollis