Telegraph Obituaries

Badminton’s kennels were the first port of call for any master wishing to breed quality hounds and Farquhar was generous with his knowledge.

Capt Ian Farquhar. CREDIT: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Capt Ian Farquhar. CREDIT: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Captain Ian Farquhar, who has died aged 78, was one of the great post-war breeders of the modern English foxhound, and an exemplary joint master and huntsman of both the Bicester & Warden Hill (1973-85) and The Duke of Beaufort’s foxhounds (1985-2019) for a total of 46 seasons.

Widely admired and respected throughout the hunting world of Britain and the United States, Farquhar was also, as a young Army officer, a much appreciated and convivial equerry to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

A highlight of their year was staying at Royal Lodge, Windsor, for racing at Royal Ascot where Bobby Corbett, Master of the Eglinton Foxhounds, was another favourite. When Corbett fell asleep at dinner one night, Farquhar offered to wake him up. “No,” the Queen Mother told him, “we will all speak softly and let him sleep.”

Farquhar’s Army years took him to the jungle of Malaya and to Aden in his father’s old regiment. There was a stop-off in 1967 to play polo as a member of the Army inter-regimental team in Tehran against the Shah of Iran’s Persian army team and again, with (later Brigadier) Andrew Parker Bowles in Kenya in 1971.

Ian Walter Farquhar was born in Dorset on December 11 1945, the third son of Sir Peter Farquhar, Bt. The baronetcy had been created in 1796 for Walter Farquhar, physician to the Prince of Wales, later George IV.

Ian’s father, Sir Peter, commanded the 3rd King’s Own Hussars in North Africa, was sunk in Lancastria at Dunkirk, and awarded a DSO at El Alamein and a Bar in June 1944 for an attack near Perugia in the Italian campaign. He became a noted MFH and hound breeder. He was appointed OBE for his work with the National Association of Boys’ Clubs with, among others, the singer Frankie Vaughan and the comedian – and fellow MFH – Jimmy “Wack-O!” Edwards.

Young Ian was brought up at Turnworth, a Dorset Jacobean mansion set in its own valley, with ponies, shooting spaniels and a pet fox called Vicky who lived with 10 terriers in the dog room. He was taught to shoot by the family keeper, Jack Churchill, to milk the cows, and make straw stooks from the harvest.

From first to last, he was an avowed countryman. His first pony, Judy, came from Bertram Mills Circus. “If you stood in front of her and raised your hand she would stand upright on her hind legs,” he recalled.

Once, he took her up the back stairs to enjoy nursery tea: “Judy did what every horse does when they are worried. Nanny was not amused. Getting her down was more problematic. It took ropes and four strong men.”

Before Ludgrove preparatory school, Ian was sent locally to Croft House School in Dorset, travelling daily by chauffeur-driven Bentley with Martin Scott, his lifelong friend, future MFH and influential hound breeder. On the back seat would also be the hound puppy, Portman Lollipop (’49).

There followed Eton, where Farquhar “messed” with Robert Cecil, now Marquess of Salisbury, Johnny Grimond, whose father Jo Grimond was leader of the Liberal Party, and the noted biographer (Sir) William Shawcross. “It certainly made for interesting conversations,” Farquhar remembered. He won his house colours for the Field Game.

Farquhar’s interview for his father’s old regiment harked back to the workings of earlier times. He was summoned to have lunch in White’s to meet the regiment’s colonel, Sir Douglas Scott. “How’s your father…have another glass of port old boy?” the colonel said after lunch. “I must be off. Do tell me why you’re here?” “You’re interviewing me for the regiment, Colonel.” “Am I? OK, that will be fine. Give your father my best. Goodbye!” As well as being a keen polo player, Farquhar also won several point-to-points, notably at the Berkeley on (the future 11th Duke of Beaufort) David Somerset’s Cuddle Up.

But hunting was always going to be Farquhar’s first love, and with it came marriage in 1972 to Pamela-Jane Chafer, the beautiful and brave hunting daughter of the Derwent master and huntsman Charles Chafer. In 1973 they moved to the Bicester country in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, where Farquhar became master and huntsman with the seasoned professional kennel huntsman Bryan Pheasey. “We never had a crossword in all our time together,” Farquhar said.

Pammie-Jane, one of the finest fox hunters to cross the stiff Bicester Thursday country, whipped into her husband. At first they lived in a kennel cottage at Stratton Audley, before buying Twyford Mill, where their farming interests and infectious hospitality won them many friends in the hunting community.

But it was the move to Badminton in 1985 that set in train a golden period for the Duke of Beaufort’s foxhounds. On Captain Farquhar’s retirement meet, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, his joint master, said: “I have made many mistakes in my life, but the one thing I have never had cause to regret is appointing Ian as my joint master.”

In all his hunting career, Ian Farquhar had only two kennel huntsmen, Charles Wheeler and Tony Holdsworth – testimony to the loyalty and devotion he inspired. He understood hunt staff everywhere.

Always on hand for wisdom and support were a phalanx of highly experienced field masters, often challenged with a mounted field of 200 riders; the deeply diplomatic hunt secretary Nigel Maidment; and Jo Aldridge who for more than 30 years looked after the public relations of the hunt.

Farquhar’s influence stretched far beyond the glorious Gloucestershire countryside, however. There were many happy visits to other hunts – to Wales, Cornwall, the Shires and Yorkshire, where beautifully bred modern English foxhounds showed they could operate in any country.

The Badminton kennels were a first port of call for any master wishing to breed top-quality hounds and Farquhar was generous with his time, knowledge of hound pedigrees and hospitality. The blood of Beaufort hounds may be found across Britain as well as in North America, Germany and France.

Nor were the hounds slow to attract the eye of the judges at the premier hound shows. Under Farquhar’s breeding programme at Badminton, they won 17 championships at the Royal Peterborough Foxhound Show.

Ian Farquhar played a leading role in all the Countryside Alliance marches, as he did for many years as vice chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association.

“In the end, I did it for the English Foxhound,” he said. He cited New Forest Medyg (’69) and Vale of Clettwr Fairy (’73) as particularly important to his breeding programme, for their drive, stamina, nose and cry. He published his memoirs, The Way It Was, in 2023.

He was appointed LVO in 1972.

Ian Farquhar is survived by his wife Pammie-Jane and their three daughters, Emma, Victoria and Rose, all of whom have followed the family hunting tradition with panache.

Ian Farquhar, born December 11 1945, died March 6 2024.

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