To 18th century ears, the Charlton Hunt was synonymous with some of the best sport in the country and Mr Roper was its celebrated huntsman.
Indeed, it is one of the earliest recorded foxhunts in the world and its fame drew the elite of society, including the Dukes of Monmouth, St Albans and Richmond, the dashing illegitimate sons of King Charles II.
Richmond bought nearby Goodwood as a comfortable place to stay and entertain his illustrious friends during the hunting season.
His son, the second Duke, shared his love of the chase and when he became Master, such was the success and desirability of the hunt, he decided that membership should be restricted only to those who had been elected.
Almost every noble family in the land had a representative at Charlton, including half of the Knights of the Garter.
Lord Burlington designed for the members a handsome banqueting house at Charlton where they met after hunting, and many built themselves hunting-boxes in the village, including the second Duke of Richmond. Richmond’s hunting-box still stands; known as Fox Hall, it is now owned by the Landmark Trust and available to rent.
The most important day in the history of the Charlton Hunt took place on 26th January 1739 when in ‘the greatest chase that ever was’ hounds ran continuously from their first find at 8.15am until they killed at 5.50pm, covering a distance of approximately 57 miles with just the Duke and two others present at the end.
When the hunt was moved to Goodwood in the mid-18th century, it was known as the Duke of Richmond’s Hounds and magnificent kennels were built by the architect James Wyatt with an ingenious central-heating system, a century before Goodwood House had its own heating.
The Goodwood House summer exhibition explores the history of the Charlton Hunt and its association with the Dukes of Richmond.
Documents and books associated with the hunt from the Goodwood archive are on display.
More than 300 years later, Goodwood still revolves around sport and sharing those individual passions of the dukes with the many thousands of visitors who come here every year.
Goodwood House Summer Exhibition ‘The Charlton Hunt’
1st August – 31st August 2016
Sundays to Thursdays, 1-5pm (last admission 4pm)
Reader offer: Luxury Afternoon Tea for Two £34.50. To book call the Ticket Office on 01243 755 055.
For further information and occasional closures please call 01243 755 040 or visit the website.