1933 – 2013
10.45am. “Good morning Master, good morning Sir, good morning Madam – always with a touch of his cap, always in a tie and always with a smile. “Give us a kiss me Duck”. A stickler for time and manners. No more apt a time a place for his family and friends to pay tribute to Denny Green.
To read more, click here to subscribe or if you are already a subscriber, please log in!
The Hunt we have just witnessed starts from the meet at Napton in 1933. It is a good scenting day. Hounds run in full cry, the terriers do their stuff, the horses effortlessly cross the country, the Masters, Hunt staff and terrier men all working as a team. After an extraordinary hunt of 80 years with everyone enjoying every bit of the ride, and a change to a second horse in 1981, this remarkable fox is blown to ground back at Napton and left for another day.
The hunting world will not meet for a long time a man more passionate about hunting; no one with more love for the fox and respect for the quarry than Denny. A person who lived and worked for hunting 6 days a week. His whole life, every hour, every day being planned accordingly. The tups went in precisely so that the lambs were born between the end of hunting and the trips to the West Country in April. The breaking of horses, the farm work, the milking of the two house cows, the gardening all timed to suit the sport.
Gardening became an increasingly important part of his life along with the fastidious mowing of the lawns. Much he learnt from Geoff Snow, not that he took it all on board. The chainsaw left many a hedge looking worse for wear and at Dadglow this winter there will be no greens in the vegetable garden – they received a dose of Round Up, not bug killer!
During the 80 year long hunt the key character was Denny as countryman, farmer, amateur whipper in, terrier man, earth stopper and horseman. He committed those talents to hunting and particularly in Warwickshire. He supported and taught Masters, hunt staff, both professional and amateur, hunting friends and terrier men with total loyalty. One of Warwickshire’s greats, unquestionably a legend and to many of us a hero.
He hunted with many Masters and huntsmen including Stephen Lambert, Martin Dunne, Miss Boultby Brooks, John Barnett, Diana Mcllveen, Jenny Hayward, John and Mary Pritchard, Clarence Webster, Anthony Adams, William Deakin and in the Bicester, Ian Farquhar. However the most important Master of all was Charmian Jackson. From 1981 when she became Mrs Green together they made the most wonderful team. Their joint influence and contribution to and on hunting people for no less than 32 years has been something incredibly special. They have been much admired and loved. The combined knowledge, experience, dedication and generosity has benefited each and every one of us. No couple will have left such a legacy as them.
Brian Fanshawe as Master in 1963 said they would have been totally lost without the help of hunting farmers – John Thorne, Billy Hobbs, Crosby Cockburn, Sam Wadland, The Hutsby and Forsyth families and for work – always Denny Green. Few contributed more both on and off the hunting field, improving country and at hunt events.
He had a wonderful ability to read a hunt and was indispensable to Stephen Lambert, Master and huntsman. He turned hounds quietly, never missed anything, stood in the right place unobserved and did the ground work before the day. He was a naturalist and understood the countryside. He knew all that there was to be known about the fox. He understood about creating habitat and was part of everything that was important to making good hunting. He found the hunting ban 2005 very difficult but nevertheless never faltered in doing what he could.
A natural with animals, he was a quite exceptional horseman. He was brilliant with horses giving them confidence and usually riding the greenest and most inexperienced getting them across country effortlessly whilst also doing a job for the huntsman.
He also got a great deal of pleasure watching others who rode well and who jumped properly. His enthusiasm did once let him down however when there was a lawn meet at Dadglow Farm. Denny decided to lock all the gates so that everybody had to jump their way out over those famous hedges. After taking a month to repair the damage he never did this again. For a brave, strong man he was also courageous and great in an emergency. Once, he did not hesitate to dive into the swollen and flooded river at Todenham after my father’s (Sir Adam) horse fell off a bridge. He kept the horses head up out of the water until it could be landed.
The horrendous injuries began to take their toll and remember he nearly lost a leg after a fall from a 14:2 pony he was schooling. Denny took more and more to the quad bike and reinforced his loyalty to the terrier men and earth stoppers. He respected their jobs completely never working his terriers without instruction. Those men remember him as fondly as any. Richard Jones, Steve Hill, Lawrence Cowley, Clive Page, Bob Compton and John Pritchard pay their respects as they carry his body today.
Denny’s love for his terriers and breeding of them is legendry. This started with his first stud dog, Bonzo and he always bred his own securing their reputation as working terriers, and as pets. They were always bred to have as much respect for the fox as he did. After a dig, and Denny enjoyed a good dig, if bolting was not going to work he would revert to professionally snicking his quarry with a length of baler twine. Very often, in the days pre-legislation, he would emerge from a six-foot hole or from the underneath of a rick of bales where he had been face down, with a fox (or badger or one of each in either hand) on his makeshift lead!
There are some great stories, probably unrepeatable today, of his role as a registered Pest Officer. Call outs, often from the RSPCA, took him to Coventry to recover foxes stuck in a drain and once, under a Tesco’s store. His terriers would almost always leave a place if he walked away or started his car. This allowed him to work discretely without a lot of noise. If the dog was reluctant to come out he would leave his coat and on returning the next morning would find it curled up on it. He taught Frank Houghton Brown, when terrier man at the Bicester, all he knew and gave him his first dog Jack. However, Frank was never convinced by Denny’s view that “Foxes never bit in the dark”! He has the scars on his hand and fingers to prove otherwise!
There are many memories of Denny on his quad bike shared with Clive, David, Matt and Bob. The bike sinking in Traitor’s Ford with Denny sitting on it like a duck on water. At Combrook with Anthony Forsyth, Denny and the bike lying side by side in a deep water filled ditch with Denny’s hat floating away. The bike and terriers descending the Dasset Hills on their own. Irrespective of this wet and cold he always kept hunting.
Warwickshire was definitely home but he loved his trips to the West Country where he and Charmian have a house on Exmoor, and to Northumberland. Diana and Maurice Scott, another great husband and wife team, and the Devon and Somerset, loved seeing him and found Denny very knowledgeable about what they were trying to do with the stag hounds. Charmian says that he claims he only started drinking whiskey when they met. She knows however that visits to Somerset with friends Jim Yarrow and Colin Oaks, the Clattworthy family literally drenched him with it – not that he ever admitted it.
Martin Letts, and the College Valley gave him some wonderful hunting crossing the Cheviot Hills full tilt in an old car, never any obstacle too much. Martin says he was “the most technical man on hunting and even under pressure never critical, always positive and respectful of each other’s knowledge”. Despite Denny referring to him as that grumpy old man not knowing that the person he was talking to was his son Charles Letts they remained very close friends.
Foreign holidays – slightly surprisingly he was persuaded to go on holidays to Spain and Portugal. As a result of the boredom, “nothing to do”, he went to the golf course and teed off with John Westrope. America was more up his street. On a trip organised by Amanda Downes (Charmian’s half sister) they went hunting 13 days in just under 3 weeks – now he was happier. And although he hated Washington his eyes were on stalks in the red light district. He has always had a passion for black women (as the picture in his bedroom attests) and would always have loved one! In Galway for a week he and Peter Mann joined Brian Fanshawe hunting every day in the bogs and mountains picking up at dawn the drag of a fox and away they would go. In the evenings abortive attempts were made to spear mullet (not salmon as Denny thought!) under the bridge to Tawain Island.
Friends have played a significant role in Denny’s life. He did not like being alone. Many of them helped him on the farm allowing him to go hunting. No more so than his own son Stephen who we hope will continue to farm there. Others included his great friend Stewart Jefferies before he died tragically, Stan Sheasby, Derek Smith, Alan Dronfield, Robin Hobday and others – not of course without some fallings out on the way!
As Martin referred the horses were an integral part of life at Dadglow. One of his favourite was Evan Bay or “Even” who bred an intermediate eventer, Thunderbolt. In addition to her Point to Pointing, Denny with Charmian, supported Caroline all over the country with her Anglo Racing on Sugar Dandy or “Sport” watching her become champion female jockey twice. He adored his grandson Freddie and was a proud grandfather when at 6 he was first in a leading rein class.
A horse called Scaliscro, owned by Jock MacKensie, and with whom Nicky Henderson could do no good, was a great success. Personally trained by Denny and ridden by Charlie Wadland, it won four out of six races in one season. The most memorable was beating John Pritchard and Jon Trice – Rolph at Ashorne in the member’s race. He always took added joy in winning the best turned out.
We should not forget however that despite his single mindedness, and especially over hunting, he was a very, human being. He is described as a hard man especially with those close to him but there was an immensely sensitive and kind person at his core. He regularly visited those who were not well in hospital or at home, and every Sunday morning went to see his mother Marjorie, with Charmian, for grapefruit and pork pie. Steve tells that he was his idol, learning everything he knows from him. He was very fond of Clare and her three children Jack, Isobel and Jay. Caroline appreciated the interest he took in her and June their mother played an important part in Denny’s life. And Charmian, through all those difficult illness and injury related times, remained unreservedly in love with him and loyal to the end.
“Don’t be telling no lies about me when I am gone”.
Heaven forbid we would, Denny! You were a quite astonishing man of great heart and honesty, an outstanding foxhunter and countryman. We found you difficult and stubborn but we respected you hugely. You loved and respected your family, Steve and Caroline, and will regret not telling them properly and personally. You shared your knowledge and experiences of hunting generously with your friends and those interested. You were a legend in life and will remain so now you have gone to ground. We will think of you in every good fox we see!
Chairman Warwickshire Hunt
23rd December 2013
St. Lawrence Church
Napton on the Hill