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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 28th March 1876
Final meeting: Thursday 22nd April 1897
Whilst it is known that racing took place at Chelmsford in Essex in the mid 1700s, the first occasion that races were organised by the Essex Hunt Committee was in 1808 when the Chelmsford racecourse at Galleywood was used as the venue. This arrangement lasted for 4 years before there was a considerable lapse in the Essex Hunts meetings. The Essex Hunt Committee was then reinvigorated to organise further race meetings in 1876 when a new venue at Rundells was chosen on land owned by James Scruby. That inaugural meeting was held on 28th March 1876. Further meetings followed on 5th March 1878 and 21st April 1881, although it had been planned to hold the meeting every two years. The meeting was at Rundells for a further 5 year period from 1882 to 1886, and during this period the event was known as the ‘Essex Hunt Club Private Steeplechases’. The idea of holding a private meeting was to try to ensure that the less desirable attendees of racing were excluded, although they still persisted in gaining access and by 1897 Essex Hunt held their final meeting at Rundells. The meeting on Thursday 9th April 1885 was typical because there was a 3 ½ mile cross-country course for the point to point section of the card, and a 2 ½ mile course for the steeplechases. The meeting on 12th April 1882 was held at Rundells, although there is some thought that it was moved to Harlow Bush just for one year. A racecard of the meeting clearly indicates Rundells was the venue unless, at the last minute, it was transferred. However, there were occasions when the steeplechase part of the meeting was run on a separate course to the point to point races, and this might have been the case in 1882. After ditching Rundells as their chosen venue the committee deemed that a course at High Roothing Bury should be used for the 1898 meeting.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Mr H Loftus-Arkwright, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, Mr Robert Lockwood

Principal Races

Essex Hunt Welter Cup, Essex United Hunt Cup, Essex Open Hunters Plate, Essex Farmers Plate

Saturday 11th April 1885
Essex Open Steeplechase Plate over 2 ½ miles
1. Stud Groom, aged horse owned by Mr A Deacon
2. Romeo, aged horse owned by Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson
3. Uncle Sam, aged horse owned by Mr E Tidswell
Betting: 4/6 Stud Groom, 2/1 Romeo, 4/1 Caliph, 6/1 Uncle Sam

The final meeting took place on Thursday 4th April 1907.
Course today

A nomadic group making use of a number of racecourses.

I am grateful to John Bethell for providing scans of the 1882-84 racecards which are shown below. The 1882 card is particularly useful, because it confirms the meeting was held at Rundells rather than at Harlow Bush.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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