By Norman Fine
Surely, one of the great foxhunting packs of Old English (or traditionally bred) foxhounds—as distinguished from the Modern English foxhound—is the Belvoir (pronounced “Beaver”) in the UK. The kennels are at Belvoir Castle and have always been the property of the Dukes of Rutland. The hunt dates from 1750, and, except for a twenty-seven year period in the 1800s, the Mastership has always been held by the reigning Duke of Rutland. The Belvoir kennels are still considered by many breeders to be their primary source of Old English bloodlines.
Will Goodall served as the Belvoir huntsman from 1842 to 1859. Goodall’s hunting methods greatly impressed Lord Henry Bentinck, one of the leading MFHs of the day. Captain Simon Clarke, MFH of the New Forest foxhounds (UK) tells us that Lord Henry hunted three horses a day, kept copious notes, compared the best of England’s huntsmen, and believed Will Goodall to be the premier huntsman in England.
When in 1864 Lord Henry sold his famous hound pack, he wrote a letter to the purchaser, Mr. Henry Chaplin, describing Will Goodall’s hunting methods. The information in the letter so impressed Mr. Chaplin that, some years after Lord Henry’s death, he had it published under the title, The Late Lord Henry Bentinck on Foxhounds: Goodall’s Practice.
"Goodall’s Practice,” says Captain Clarke, “is the best treatise on hunting hounds ever written.” The revered Master and hound breeder Isaac “Ikey” Bell, the single individual most responsible for the modern English foxhound, is said to have had Goodall’s Practice painted on the ceiling over his bathtub! If you watch while hunting this season, you may see and recognize some of these same practices being used by your own huntsman. Here’s an extract: