Hunting Museum Relaunch
Warm praise for the newly refurbished Hunting Museum at foxhunting’s historic “capital”, Melton Mowbray, was expressed by Baroness Mallalieu when she performed its official re-launch on October 9th.
Ann Mallalieu, President of the Countryside Alliance and of the Trustees of the Hunting Museum, congratulated everyone involved in its upgrading. She performed the opening ten years ago when a contribution of £100,000 was made by hunting people all over Britain to help match a Heritage Lottery Fund grant enabling the museum’s founding. Baroness Mallalieu paid tribute to Lord Kimball who was the originating chairman of the Trust, succeeded six years ago by Michael Clayton who had encouraged the latest developments.
The hunting gallery, which is within the Melton Carnegie Museum at Melton Mowbray, includes memorabilia, information boards and video screens devoted to the Shires Foxhunts – Quorn, Cottesmore, Belvoir and Fernie. There is a press-button sound device which broadcasts hunting horn calls, plus a major Hunt button collection, and sporting art including two paintings by John Ferneley. Sporting art exhibitions are to be shown at the museum next in year in its purpose-built art gallery.
With the help of a further Heritage Lottery Fund grant Melton Carnegie Museum’s building has doubled in size since 2002. It contains an extensive hunting library on all forms of hunting; exhibits showing Melton Mowbray’s historic links with foxhunting; and a recently completed rural issues gallery with electronic exhibits. Upstairs there is a fully equipped lecture room where the Trustees of the Hunting Museum hold meetings devoted to hunting history.
At the re-launch ceremony Peter Lewis, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, praised the museum’s progress in the last ten years, and the partnership between the Council and the Hunting Trustees who had given £5,000 towards the latest work on he hunting gallery.
The gallery only “scratched the surface” on Melton’s hunting history, as the museum was also home to a community archive of specialist publications and diaries on hunting which have been digitalized by museum volunteers to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.
Mr. Lewis said: “Partnerships with the Museum of Hunting Trustees, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other heritage groups have seen the museum develop in prominence to become an internationally recognised centre for the study of the history of foxhunting”.
He pointed out that the Melton Carnegie Museum website links (located at www.leics.gov.uk/museums) are used by students and others from all over the world in their research studies.
Michael Clayton thanked the County Council’s Museums Department for their work in developing the museum, and renewing the hunting element, and praised the enthusiasm and work of his fellow Trustees and members of the Management Committee of the Hunting Museum.
He said there was a great need for a national hunting museum in the United Kingdom. The Americans had at least three such museums, and the French had seven, including a splendid one in Paris.
Until then Melton Mowbray is the only British hunting museum of its scope owned and run by a local authority. He urged hunting people to give it every support through attendance and donations to assist further developments.