The Fitzwilliam Family

The close tie which has always existed between the two societies was bonded still further when the Foxhound Show Society, in 1965, asked the Agricultural Society to be responsible for its administration and to share in its Secretaryship which also came about because the freehold of the Foxhound Show site had been put together with the Eastfield Road Showground to enhance its value.

The Foxhound Show since coming to Peterborough in 1878 had always owned its own site adjacent to the Agricultural Showground with its own general committee and secretary.

The Hound Show was founded in 1878 at a meeting held at the Angel Hotel, Peterborough, under the Chairmanship of the Marquess of Huntley. The first show was held on the second day of the Peterborough Agricultural Show on the Boroughbury Showground under the Patronage of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales KG and the first President was the then Earl Fitzwilliam.

The Show’s importance was recognised in 1934 when King George V gave permission for the title of the Society to be

The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society

Although in its 126 years since the Society was founded, Shows were not held during the two Great World Wars.

The Society has been honoured by many Royal visits, including in 1895 The Prince of Wales (later King George VII); 1923 The Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor); 1932 The Duke of York (later King George VI); 1938 The Duke of Gloucester; 1951 The Princess Elizabeth (the present Queen), who is also the Society’s Patron); 1956, 1974, 1983 and 1993 Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; 1975 The Princess Royal; 1978 The Prince of Wales and in more years the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Each one of the Foxhound Show Royal visitors also toured the Agricultural Show.

The Fitzwilliam families support was foremost with the establishment of the Agricultural Society in 1797 and the formation of the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society in 1878 – the Earl Fitzwilliam at that time being President of both organisations. The families support continues to this day with Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland, Bt. M.F.H. Grandson of the 10th Earl and Countess Fitzwilliam, being the current Chairman. The decision by the Agricultural Society in the years 1959 and 1960 to move from its Eastfield Road Showground to a larger site (which could have taken years to implement) came about very quickly and made possible through the help and generous support of the Earl Fitzwilliam.

The Agricultural Society’s success meant that it had outgrown the Eastfield ground as indeed it had outgrown its previous sites and history repeated itself as the growth of the City meant that housing and other urban development limited the potential for expansion at Eastfield. Not the least of the problems at Eastfield was the shortage of car parking space, insufficient for a Britain in which car ownership was becoming the norm and also the fact that the car parking space was not the Society’s own, but the sports fields of various Schools.

So 1966 saw the first Show at the new Alwalton site. The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Society had moved at the same time and 1966 was notable, among other reasons, because this was the first occasion on which both the Agricultural Society and the Foxhound Society had the same President, in this case the 10th Earl Fitzwilliam. The Foxhound Society is rather unusual in today’s commercialised world in that its activities continue to be unsponsored.

As well as providing invaluable assistance with the sale of Eastfield, the 10th Earl was extremely helpful in the negotiations which surrounded the acquisition of the land at Alwalton. He assisted the Society to obtain Glebe Farm, holding of 171 acres just south of the A605, then tenanted by Mr. R.H. Waterworth. He used his good offices to provide Mr. Waterworth with alternative land at nearby Lynch Farm, the tenancy of which had just lapsed, while Mr. Waterworth also very helpfully agreed to sell the freehold of 27 acres of land abutting onto the A605. The Earl very generously made a further 40 acres available at Alwalton at a peppercorn rent and on the Earl’s death, Countess Fitzwilliam equally generously donated this land to the Society. Before this, in 1973, the Society had again enjoyed the munificence of the 10th Earl when he had made available a further 54 acres of land for lease by the Society. In all, 310 acres became available for the Showground (100 acres) and its associated car parks (210 acres). To mark their gratitude, the Society was later to obtain permission to name their main grandstand “The Fitzwilliam Grandstand” while the Foxhound Show enclosure was also to be known in the future as “Fitzwilliam Hound Enclosure”. The Society owed a great debt to the 10th Earl and Countess Fitzwilliam and to Mr. R.H. Waterworth and his family for making possible the purchase of the Showground.

The Alwalton Showground was planned from the start to take account of the fact that most of the competitors, exhibitors and visitors would arrive by road. Therefore particular consideration was paid to providing effective car parking and access from the 4 points of the compass to the ground for motor vehicles of all sorts. Even with such attention to detail at an early stage, the Society was almost a victim of its own success and traffic congestion in the area of the Show continued to be a bugbear for many years. This is in spite of the fact that the car park originally covered 70 acres and had accommodation for 14,000 cars.

The first Show at Alwalton opened on time and with all the necessary facilities available but only by the skin of its teeth! On the Sunday, two days before the Show, and to a background noise of banging and clattering from toiling workmen, 1,500 people braved the elements for a 20 minute service of dedication. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Reverend Cyril Easthaugh, dedicated a plaque which commemorated the opening. Giving a short address, he said that the service celebrated the essentially honourable nature of that fundamental activity, the tilling of the soil and he declared: “Nothing is more down to earth than agriculture. Here we see all human activity aimed at one purpose – producing abundant life.”

By way of response, the 10th Earl Fitzwilliam, the Society President, declared that they were seeing the rebirth of the Show and he continued: “We wish it all the success it has enjoyed in the past and we know it will go forward to even greater heights on a ground which is among the most modern in this country.”

How the Move Came About

In the years 1959 – 1961 when the Agricultural Society felt it needed a new Showground (Eastfield was only 40 acres) to expand and have its own car parks, the showground was offered for sale but the City Council made it clear that they would want to purchase it for Technical College and playing field extension. Therefore it was necessary to obtain alternative planning consent which was granted for blocks of flats.

At the same time because Lord Fitzwilliam had agreed that the Foxhound Show site could also be made available as an entire package which meant that planning consent (for alternative use) could also be sought for a petrol filling station along the Eastfield Road frontage. It was estimated that this increased the price of the Eastfield Showground by some £20,000 – £30,000.

As previously recorded, at the time the Society was looking for a new showground site, Lynch Farm, Alwalton became vacant following the termination of Mr. Hartley’s tenancy who was emigrating to Australia. The Society asked Lord Fitzwilliam whether he would sell this farm for use as a showground but he indicated that he did not wish to dispose of land North of the A605 but would consider assisting the Society with the acquisition of land to the South of the road.

The late Mr. Egar, Agent to the Milton Estate, was instructed by Lord Fitzwilliam to negotiate with the Church Commissioners for the purchase of Glebe Farm, 171 acres, to the south of the A605 which was then subject to a tenancy to Mr. R.H.Waterworth. This adjoined other land owned by the Milton Estate and also let to Mr. Waterworth. It was understood at that time from the Commissioners through their Agents, that as long as a sale provided sufficient capital to produce a similar income for the incumbent as the rent of the land there was no objection to a sale taking place. The sale was subsequently agreed at a price suggested by their Agents.

Lord Fitzwilliam then offered the vacant land at Lynch Farm north of the A605 to Mr. R.H. Waterworth on an agricultural tenancy and Mr. Waterworth kindly agreed to give vacant possession of Glebe Farm to the Society.

Mr. R.H. Waterworth also generously consented to sell to the Society a 27 acre field along the roadside frontage to the A605.

In addition to helping to put the land together, Lord Fitzwilliam very generously let the Agricultural Society have a further forty acres of land on a ninety-nine year lease at a peppercorn rent of £1 per annum.

On the death of Lord Fitzwilliam, Lady Fitzwilliam very generously gave these forty acres of peppercorn rent land to the Society. The Society’s solicitors negotiated an open gift of the land to the Society without any restrictions or covenants. In appreciation of the generous gesture the Agricultural Society asked for permission to name the Grandstand after the Earl Fitzwilliam. The Grandstand is now known as the Fitzwilliam Stand.

Tied with the arrangements for the Eastfield Road Foxhound Show sale proceeds to go to the Agricultural Society, was an undertaking by the Council of the Agricultural Society to be responsible for providing an area of land on the new Showground, to accommodate the Hound Show, to dismantle Eastfield Road Kennels and re-erect them at Alwalton. Furthermore, to provide a Hound Show enclosure (as now existing) to surround the whole Hound Show Enclosure with a closely boarded fence. In the future to maintain the Hound Show at all times and be responsible for paying the maintenance costs. Offices, changing room and toilets were built and paid for by the Agricultural Society. The cloakroom was added later and paid for by the Foxhound Show Society.

The Agricultural Society also agreed it would at all times provide land as near as possible to provide forward parking for Foxhound Show Vice Presidents and in future to be responsible for the administration of the Foxhound Show Society’s activities.

The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society agreed that it would pay for the catering marquees for the luncheon, bars etc.

It should be recorded that at the time of the proposed move and re-establishment of the Foxhound Show there were other Agricultural Society’s who indicated that they would be pleased for the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show.

Society to be part of their Agricultural Show. It was at that time that the late Lord Exeter, the late Major Peacock, and the late Mr. Alec Hobson (Secretary of the Royal Agricultural Society of England) had meetings with Mr. Odam and the Secretary to stress the importance to the Peterborough Agricultural Show of retaining the Hound Show.

Lord Fitzwilliam was the President of the Peterborough Agricultural Society in 1936 and 1953 and for the last Show in 1965 on the Eastfield Road Showground and the first Show in 1966 on the new Showground. Lady Fitzwilliam was President in 1981.

During the early planning stages of the Alwalton Showground, Earl Fitzwilliam indicated he would like the Hound Show General Committee members to visit the site to see exactly where the Foxhound Show Enclosure would be. Although little or no work had been done on the preparing of the site the Chairman and Committee felt that this should still be made. It so happened that there was only one very old and indeed dangerous, oak tree on the entire site which happened to be in the area of the proposed Foxhound Show Enclosure. The Committee duly made their visit having already expressed a view that the new Hound Show Enclosure layout should be exactly the same as the one at Eastfield, the judging ring surrounded by kennels in the same positions, but giving slightly larger space for judging. Roy Bird recalls having placed some pegs giving a rough indication of the site, Lord Fitzwilliam asked where exactly the Duke of Beaufort would sit, where he would sit and where the collecting ring would be. He then asked two members of the Committee to take up both their positions on their shooting seats and declared to the Committee that “the site looks fine and they then journeyed back to the cars.”

Although a new structure was erected for the judging ring and collecting ring, the Eastfield Road kennels were dismantled and re-erected at Alwalton with new buildings being provided for the offices, cloakroom, toilets and Hunt Servants dressing room.

Area allocated for Vice President’s car parking immediately adjacent to the Hound Show Enclosure providing much needed facility which did not exist at Eastfield. The Committee did not visit the site again but at the first Show said the Hound Enclosure was just as they hoped it would be.