THE HUNTING MUSEUM-
Melton Carnegie Museum,
Britain’s only hunting museum maintained by a local authority is on view within the Melton Carnegie Museum at Melton Mowbray.
There could be no more appropriate site, since the ancient market town is the hub of the boundaries of the foxhunting countries of the historic Quorn, Cottesmore and Belvoir Hunts, who have attracted visitors from all over the world to their superb hunting countries. Melton Mowbray was known as “The Capital of Foxhunting”. The Atherstone, Fernie, Fitzwilliam, Pytchley, Meynell, South Notts and many other prominent Hunts are nearby.
Hunting is so deeply embedded in the history of Leicestershire that the County Council accepted a proposal for the museum presented by the first chairman of the Museum of Hunting Trust , Lord Kimball, formerly Marcus Kimball MP. This followed a campaign for over a decade for the establishment of the museum, led by Lord Kimball.
He founded the Museum of Hunting Trust in 1989 to raise matching funds for a Heritage Lottery Fund bid, operating as a partner of the County Council.
The opportunity for the museum came when the tourist office, which shared the former library building with the museum, moved out, allowing for a £500,000 refurbishment, including a large focus on hunting, for the first time.
The Museum of Hunting Trust raised £130,000 for the new museum; the Heritage Lottery Fund contributed £370,000, Leicestershire County Council £20,000, Melton Borough Council £10,000 and the Friends of Leicester and Leicestershire Museums £1,000.
Baroness Mallalieu, as President of the Museum of Hunting Trust , opened the new hunting exhibitions in 2002.
Hunting people in Leicestershire and elsewhere have contributed hunting diaries, and memorabilia which are displayed in the Museum, or held in the archives.
As a member of the Trust from its inception, Michael Clayton, former Editor of Horse and Hound, succeeded Lord Kimball as chairman in October 2006. Lord Kimball was appointed Vice-President.
Hunting is fortunate to have an opportunity to display its history and its contribution to rural life, and the Museum deserves interest and support from everyone who cares about the sport’s past, present and future.
As well as items of Hunt dress, hunting horns, and other memorabilia, the Hunting Museum has acquired a growing collection of private hunting diaries from all over England, and an increasing library of fascinating books and pictures. The scope of the Museum has been mainly confined to foxhunting in Leicestershire, due to the size of the building, even after later extensions described below.
Web-site and oral history:
In 2006 Leicestershire County Council’s Heritage Services, in partnership with the Museum of Hunting Trust, received a grant of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This funded a project entitled “Foxhunting Past, Present and Future.”
It has enabled the launch of a new website, launched on October 2, 2006: www.foxhuntingvoices.org.uk.
The main aim was to provide access to educational resources for schools Teachers can download lesson plans, activity sheets photographs, objects, and campaign advertisements.
One of the most interesting sources on the website is a selection of extracts of oral history interviews on hunting. Altogether 39 interviews were recorded on the impact of the Hunting Act 2004 on those who support and oppose hunting, and associated trades and industries. They include 14 pro-hunt campaigners, and 12 anti-hunt campaigners, five Hunt staff, five representing trades, and others including veteran hunting people who can remember the sport from early in the 20th century.
All the interviews were sent to the East Midlands Oral History Archive for editing and copying, to be made available for public consultation. Eight extracts were made available immediately through the new website.
MAJOR EXPANSION IN 2009-10
The current CarnegieMeltonMuseum additionally contains exhibits on other aspects of local history, and it has a small, well presented art gallery for temporary exhibitions.
In April 2008 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a further £969,000 to Leicestershire County Council to develop Melton Carnegie Museum further.
This enabled the Museum building to be doubled in size. The new development includes a ground floor and first floor extension to the rear of the original building.
The new space includes:
- A Community Archive to support work being undertaken by local history groups and partner organisations, including the Museum of Hunting Trust.
- More permanent displays to complement existing displays. They focus on rural life in the area.
- A Community room on the first floor can be used as one, or two, lecture rooms or meeting rooms. They create space for activities and events for use by schools, community groups and volunteers.
The new extension, opened in 2010, allowed for a greatly improved display of the Museum’s extensive hunting library, and some uplift for the existing hunting museum. On October 9th 2012 Baroness Mallalieu, President of the Trustees, performed the opening of the re-launched Hunting Gallery, with a contribution of £5000 from the Trustees.
The creation of a new Museum of Hunting Trustees website (www.museumofhuntingtrust.co.uk) enables on-line donations to the Trust, and explains its activities. Increasing financial pressures on museums and libraries due to cutbacks in county council expenditure budgets since 2012 make it even more important for hunting people to support the work of the Hunting Museum Trust to preserve the history of their sport.
The County Council’s budget savings have reduced the opening times of the Museum from seven days a week throughout the year, to: Tuesday to Saturday each week from 10 am to 4.30 pm; closed from mid-December to mid-January. Admission is free.
The Trust holds “History Evenings” in the spring and autumn for hunting enthusiasts at the Museum, and at the Market Tavern Ballroom in Melton Mowbray. Over 150 visited a “History Evening” at the Market Tavern in September, 2013, launching publication of “A Short History of Foxhunting” by Alastair Jackson and Michael Clayton. In October 2013 the Trust was pleased to cooperate with the British Sporting Art Trust in holding a highly successful two-day Symposium at the Museum on the Melton Mowbray sporting artist John Ferneley. A remarkable exhibition of Ferneley’s work was presented in the Melton Carnegie Museum’s art gallery from October until the end of 2013.
As well as the general public and schools, the Museum is visited by groups of visitors from Hunt Supporters’ Clubs. We would urge Hunts to support the extended Museum by making such visits.
There could be no better time in hunting’s history for its followers to preserve a museum record of its heritage, its present activities, and its future prospects to the wider public. The HuntingMuseum at Melton Mowbray offers a unique opportunity, and deserves support and interest from the hunting community.
Melton Carnegie Museum :
Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE13 1RB. Tel: 01664 569946. Check mid-winter closing dates with website: