The Keswick Hunt Club is a mounted fox hunting club located in Keswick, Virginia. It was established in 1896 and recognized in 1903. There are approximately 200 memberships consisting of individuals or families. Keswick hounds hunt in Madison, Louisa, Orange and Albemarle counties over rolling hills, woods and cultivated land with some steep and trappy terrain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. Jumps are coops, telephone poles, natural log panels and post and rails.
Keswick hunts mid‐September through mid‐March each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Hunting is by invitation only from the Masters. The attire is ratcatcher during the week and formal attire on the weekends and designated holidays. Keswick adheres to the traditional rules of fox hunting as described in a booklet entitled Riding to Hounds in America. An Introduction for Fox Hunters, by William P. Wadsworth, MFH. Copies of this may be purchased from The Chronicle of the Horse.
Keswick has two Masters of Fox Hounds. The Masters are elected annually by the voting membership. A full time professional Huntsman, professional Whipper-In and professional Kennelman maintain the hounds, the Huntsman’s horses and the hunt country.
Keswick Hunt Club is involved with numerous charitable events throughout the year. The annual Blessing of the Hounds takes place each Thanksgiving at Grace Church, the offering and all capping fees of the day directed to church outreach. In addition, the club supports local county fairs, steeplechase races, farm tours, and Virginia Horse Council legislative outings.
Thanksgiving is the time of year we stop and give thanks to all who have helped the Hunt Club and those especially who have worked to improve our sport of mounted fox hunting. “Colors” are often regarded as a badge of honor and as such are awarded this festive day to those members that have helped in the hunt field above and beyond the desire to fox hunt. Colors are worn with pride not only on formal meets but also formal dinners and dances where the invitation offers “Scarlet if convenient.”
The “Barrister” award is named for one of Keswick’s finest dog hounds who had a great nose and really deep cry and whose offspring bear his resemblance and qualities today. The Masters and Huntsman look for the individual who has excelled in working with the hounds during the off season, who has been a leader in representing Keswick and fox hunting, and has been the person who pitches in on a moment’s notice to lend whatever help is needed. The recipient receives the perpetual framed portrait of Barrister with their engraved name attached.
KHC Fox Hounds
The Keswick Hunt Club Kennels are home to approximately 30 couple of American Fox Hounds. Some can trace their ancestry back to hounds that hunted in the early 1960s when Robert Coles was Master of Fox Hounds. Many of Coles’ hounds were purchased from private packs. Coles’ successor John J. Carle established and maintained an organized breeding program throughout his 35 years as huntsman and MFH. Jake, as he was known to every Keswick member, sought advice from and used sires recommended by: Albert Poe, Huntsman at Piedmont, Fairfax and Middleburg; Warren Harrover, Bull Run Huntsman and MFH; Buster Chadwell, Essex Huntsman; and other expert huntsmen and breeders of American Fox Hounds. Piedmont Render ’68 was an especially influential sire who appears in pedigrees of many KHC hounds. Another outside sire whose influence continues to be appreciated was J. T. Murtagh’s Boxer ’86, a Penn-Marydel member of the Rose Tree Hunt pack.
Tony Gammell, KHC Huntsman since 2000, grew up in Ireland and learned his trade there, as well as in England and Scotland where there are no American Fox Hounds. However, he has become an extremely enthusiastic advocate for the American Fox Hound with its superior nose and cry and suitability to this country and climate. Tony has continued Jake Carle’s bloodlines, emphasizing the behavioral quality of eagerness to please which is important in riot-proofing and coming home with all hounds on. Tony has brought in additional American male and female lines including hounds from the Brandywine Hunt. Tony handles his hounds from the day they are whelped, and his puppies walk out with the rest of the pack off couples by the end of April. The Keswick pack has maintained a high level of performance in the hunting field for many years. Though Tony treats hound shows as no more than a brief diversion, KHC hounds have recently won championships in the ring.
The History of The Keswick Hunt Club
The Keswick Hunt Club was founded in 1896 when 19 gentlemen met at Cloverfields, the home of Frank Randolph, with the purpose of organizing a club for “Social Intercourse and Fox and Drag Hunting.” One of the founders, Dr. Francis Lee Thurman later recalled that the 19 gents were “peaceful, law-abiding citizens, but dear lovers of the chase… They made a merry party… the hour of two a.m. found us just adjourning, some still discussing the issues of the hour, some past all discussion.”
Fox hunting had been taking place over the Keswick landscape since 1742 when Dr. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill imported six or eight couple of English Fox Hounds. There were a number of private packs in the area in 1896. As one early member noted, having the hunt club brought a little more order to local hunting. In those days foxes and hounds ran unbothered by wire and automobile traffic.
Julian Morris served as Master of the Keswick Fox Hounds 1901-1913. He was highly successful in the show ring, winning championships in England as well as the U.S. Julian Morris helped the Keswick Hunt Club hold its first horse show in 1904. After over a century of changes, the club continues to host a show every May, a show that is renowned on the horse show circuit for its hospitality.
In 1929, John Stewart, M.F.H. instigated the first Thanksgiving Blessing of the Hounds Service in the yard of Grace Episcopal Church, another tradition that has continued to the present. Hounds, horses and riders gather for a religious service of prayers and hymns followed by a hunt. The collection taken at the service benefits charity.
Despite years of financial difficulties aggravated by depression and wars, Keswick fox hunting has endured because of the enthusiasm and work of numerous local families and individuals. Keswick maintains a tradition of volunteer labor which helps keep dues affordable.
John J. (Jake) Carle II served as MFH 1964-2000. He contributed remarkable amounts of his own time and financial support, funded professional whippers-in, designed the kennels, and established a successful hound breeding program. Jake expanded the Keswick territory in 1980 to include land formerly hunted by the Rapidan Hunt.
Following Jake Carle’s departure as MFH and huntsman in 2000, Hugh Motley, MFH, hired Irish-born huntsman Tony Gammell. The two of them continued Keswick’s expansion into new territory, including Madison County land along the Rapidan River and the Green Springs district of Louisa County. Now serving under present MFHs Charlotte Tieken and Andy Lynn, Tony Gammell has a first-rate pack of fox hounds that draws compliments from visitors and rave reviews from hosts when KHC hounds are invited to hunt elsewhere at joint meets.
Hounds go out three days a week during the regular season from October to March following September cubbing.
Masters of Fox Hounds
1896-1901 – Cary Ruffin Randolph
1901-1915 – Julian Morris
1915-1916 – Dr. Lee Thurman
1917-1918 – No hunting during World War I
1919-1920 – E.H. Joslin
1920-1925 – No Master; Hunt reorganized in 1926
1926-1929 – Julian Morris
1929-1932 – John C. Stewart
1932-1935 – Mrs. Cary Jackson
1936-1937 – A.W. Talcott
1937-1938 – Miss Jamie Terrill, Mrs. Cary Jackson and George Barkley
1938-1945 – Miss Jamie Terrill and W. Haggin Perry
1945-1946 – W. Haggin Perry
1947-1948 – W. Haggin Perry and Alexander Rives
1948-1951 – Alexander Rives
1951-1952 – Alexander Rives and Mrs. John S. McIntyre
1953-1954 – Alexander Rives and George Barkley
1954-1955 – Donald P. Hostetter and Mrs. Alexander Rives
1955-1956 – Robert Coles and Donald P. Hostetter
1957-1964 – Robert Coles
1964-1966 – Robert Coles and John J. Carle II
1966-1990 – John J. Carle II
1990-1992 – John J. Carle II and Sandy Rives
1992-1994 – John J. Carle II and Franklin Wawner
1994-2000 – John J. Carle II
2000-2002 – Hugh Motley
2002-2005 – Hugh Motley and Charlotte Tieken
2005–2015 – Charlotte Tieken and Andrew Lynn
2015–2016 – Charlotte Tieken, Andrew Lynn and Nancy Wiley
2016–2017 – Charlotte Tieken and Andrew Lynn
2017–Present – Will Coleman, Mary Motley Kalergis, and Nancy Wiley