2024  Redcap Club Show (EGGS ONLY) - by kind permission of the High Peak Poultry Club.  To be held within the HPPC Egg Show at Eyam Mechanics Institute, Eyam, S32 5QH on Sunday 26th May 2024 (********NOTE THE DATE CHANGE********)  Entries Closing date 18th May

For more detailed information please see the HPPC website and social media





2024 National Federation of Poultry Clubs Championship Show - to be held at the Staffordshire County Showground, ST18 0BD on Saturday & Sunday 21st & 22nd September 2024

For more detailed information please see the Federation website and social media




2024 Redcap Club AGM: 

The Duke of York, Ashbourne Road, Pomeroy, Flagg, Buxton. Derbyshire SK17 9QG 

Wednesday 16th October 2024 - 7.30pm



*****START TIME 7.30PM*****







2024 Poultry Club National Championship & Egg Show - to be held at the Lincolnshire County Showground on Saturday & Sunday 19th & 20th October 2024

For more detailed information please see the PCGB website and social media











Large Redcap Fowl


Class 13 - Three Large fowl eggs:

1st - plate 17 - D.P. Melland (Best Redcap)

2nd - plate 18 - D. P. Melland

3rd - plate 21 - E. S. Hancock


Class 14 - One Large fowl egg:

1st - plate 22 - L. Temprell

2nd - plate 26 - A & L. Wetters

3rd - plate 24 - E. S. Hancock


Class 15 - One Large fowl egg contents:

1st - plate 30 - D.P. Melland

2nd - plate 28 - L. Temprelle

3rd - plate 29 - D.P. Melland


Bantam Redcap Fowl


Class 41 - Three Bantam eggs:

1st - plate 120 - L. Temprell

2nd - plate 121 - D. P. Melland

3rd - plate 122 - A & L. Wetters


Class 42 - One Bantam egg:

1st - plate 123 - L. Temprell (Best Bantam)

2nd - plate 124 - D. P. Melland

3rd - plate 125 - A & L. Wetters


Class 43 - One Bantam egg contents:

1st - Not awarded

2nd - Not awarded

3rd - D. P. Melland








As of Wednesday 23rd August 2023, the gatherings ban in England will be lifted for galliformes. (An order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds that includes chickens, turkeys, quail and other landfowl)
Those exhibiting under the new general licence will need a CPH number. Keepers with 50 or more birds should already have one. A quarantine period of 14 days following exhibitions is to be observed. It is required that a vet is present until all birds have entered the venue and been inspected, and is available on call for the duration of the show.
Exhibitors cannot currently travel from Scotland or Wales to gatherings in England.
Apply for a County Parish Holding (CPH) number here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk
Forms for registering flocks with APHA: https://www.gov.uk/.../poultry-including-game-birds





Poultry Club of Great Britain - National Championship Show 2019

held at the Telford International Centre on 30th November/1st December 2019

Judge – Edward Boothman


 Male 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd E. S. Hancock

Female 1st D. P. Melland 2nd E. S. Hancock 3rd D.P. Melland

Cockerel 1st C. F. Taylor (Best Derbyshire Redcap) 2nd E.S.Hancock

Pullet 1st P. A. Morrison 2nd E. S. Hancock 3rd E.S. Hancock

Bantam Male 1st D. P.Melland (Best opposite size) 2nd C. F. Taylor 3rd E. S. Hancock

Bantam Female 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd P. A. Morrison 3rd D.  P. Melland


Report of judging at the National  2019

It was a privilege to judge the Redcaps at the National and I enjoyed it very much. I love judging and giving my reasons for how I've placed them. Everybody's opinions are different but the best, no matter what; should always prevail.

Class 351 Redcap Male

1064  1st   Clean bird and well feathered

1066  2nd  Not in peak condition. 

Class 352 Redcap Female

1069  1st   Beautiful bird but lob sided comb 

1070  2nd  Nice bird but not peak condition 

1071  3rd   Dark bird but lacking condition 

1068  4th   Older bird but too light in colour

Class 353  Redcap Cockerel 

1075  1st    A beautiful bird and 12 o clock on day - Best of Breed

1073  2nd  Too light in colour. 

Class 354  Redcap  Pullet 

1079  1st   Lovely bird but too light

1076  2nd  Nice bird but not just as good as 1st

1078  3rd   Not in condition 

1077  4th   Not far from 3rd

The bantam class I split into Male and Female. 

Class 355 Redcap Bantams 


1083  1st   Lovely Cockerel and Best Opposite Size.

1082  2nd  Not far from 1st.

1081  3rd  Another nice bird but not as good as 1st.


1088  1st    Lovely bird 

1085  2nd   Again not far from 1st

1086  3rd   Too light in colour

Some bantams were overweight.

(Thanks to Edward)          


National Federation of Poultry Clubs - Federation Championship Show 2019

held at the Stafford County Showground on 21st/22nd December 2019

Judge – Mark Carson


Cock 1st C. F Taylor 2nd E. S. Hancock

Hen 1st M. Johnson (Best Derbyshire Redcap) 2nd D.P. Melland 3rd D. P. Melland

Cockerel 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd M. Johnson 3rd E. S. Hancock

Pullet 1st A. Morrison 2nd C. F. Taylor 3rd E. S. Hancock

Bantam Male 1st C. F. Taylor (Best Opposite Size) 2nd D. P. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock

Bantam Female 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd A. Morrison 3rd D. P. Melland



Selston Poultry Fanciers Show 2020

January 2020

Large Male/Female 1st E. Hancock (Best Derbyshire Redcap) 2nd A. Morrison 3rd A. Morrison

Bantam Male/Female 1st E. Hancock 2nd D. Melland 3rd D. Melland


High Peak Poultry Club - The Derbyshire Championship Poultry Show 2020

held at the Bakewewll Agricultural Centre on 1st February 2020

Judge – L. Blanchon



Cock 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd D. P. Melland

Hen 1st D. P. Melland 2nd D. P. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock

Cockerel 1st C. F. Taylor (Best Derbyshire Redcap) 2nd M. Johnson 3rd F. Parker

Pullet 1st M. Johnson (Best Derbyshire Redcap entered by a Novice) 2nd J. and J. Wilson 3rd C. F. Taylor

Bantam Male 1st F. Parker 2nd C. F. Taylor 3rd D. Melland

Bantam Female 1st C. F. Taylor (Best Derbyshire Redcap Bantam) (Best Derbyshire Redcap Opposite Sex) 2nd D. P. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock

Junior Male/Female (large or bantam) 1st N. Verdicchio (Best Junior)  2nd E. S. Hancock 


Derbyshire Redcap Club Egg Classes

3 Large Fowl 1st E. S. Hancock 2nd D. P. Melland

1 Large Fowl 1st D. P. Melland 2nd D. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock

3 Bantam 1st D. Melland (Best Derbyshire Redcap Eggs) 2nd D. P. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock

1 Bantam 1st D. P. Melland 2nd D. P. Melland 3rd E. S. Hancock



Derbyshire County Show 2019

held at the Showground, Elvaston Country Park, Borrowash Road, Elvaston, Derby. DE72 3EP

23rd June 2019

Judge – Ewan Jones


Cock 1st C. F. Taylor (Best Derbyshire Redcap) 2nd D. Melland

Hen 1st C. F. Taylor 2nd D. Melland 3rd D. Melland




Manifold Show 2021

 held at Ilam on 14th August 2021

Judges - Alison Yates & Ewen Jones


Male/Female - One Class

1st C. F., Taylor (Hen) 2nd C. F. Taylor (Cock) 3rd D. Melland (Cock)











Derbyshire County Show:

- held at The Showground, Borrowash Road, Elvaston, Derby DE72 3EP     

         See show website - https://derbyshirecountyshow.org.uk


National Federation of Poultry Clubs Show:

- held at The County Showground, Stafford, ST18 0BD  (CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE)


High Peak Poultry Club’s Derbyshire Championship Poultry Show:

– held at the Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell, Derbyshire. DE45 1EH  (CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE - SEE HPPC WEBSITE)


 Manifold Show:

- held at The Arbour, Castern Hall, Ilam. DE6 2AD    -  See show website



The following article is taken from “The Derbyshire Redcap Fowl – Its History and Environment" by H. Hopkinson 1981 - Chapters I to VI & Chapter 10 followed by more letters to "Poultry" (weekly Paper)


Chapter I – The Redcap

While many people visit and admire the beauty of Derbyshire, few ever know that it has a breed of poultry and two breeds of sheep of its own.   The breed of poultry is the Derbyshire Redcap, and the sheep are the Derbyshire Gritstone and the Woodland breed.  Alas a local breed of cattle, the Blue Albion, is  no longer found if the county.   Before Leghorn fowls were introduced into Britain, about 1885 the Redcap would be the most productive fowl available.   Being an excellent forager its food requirements would be low and the eggs would be very welcome and an important means of subsistence to the lead miners and quarry workers, who along with the smallholders and farmers populated an area made famous by Bess of Hardwick, Dorothy Vernon and Mary Queen of Scots.


It was assumed that the Redcap was a descendant of the Golden Hamburgh, by the early writers, who had no knowledge of genetics or Mendelism.   It is extremely unlikely that a breed like the Redcap, with its greater size and very different shape and its good egg size could have had Hamburgh blood in it.


Many of the rare breeds of poultry owe their development and in some cases survival, to the lifelong devotion of one breeder and family.   The Dorking has been bred by the Major family for nearly one hundred years, the Faverolle by the Milner family of Eckington for fifty years, the Redcap breed had an equally enthusiastic supporter, Mr. E. A. Wragg, the Edensor school master, who bred, exhibited, judged and also exported the breed all over the world.   The Redcap was bred by Harry Fox of Matlock from the 1920’s until his death in 1965, who also exported birds to many parts of the world.   Ten years later, in 1975, there are between twelve and twenty breeders and while the combs are much smaller it is a very much improved bird today that appears at shows.   It is regrettable that the Gold Spangled Hamburgh is almost extinct.   The craze for shows and fancy fowl began in 1845 after imported birds had been given to Queen Victoria.   By the 1880’s new varieties and colours of fowl were numerous and the Redcap probably owes its survival to the ardent support it received in the Peak District, especially in the vicinity of Chatsworth.   The extracts from books and journals in the following pages will show the enthusiasm for the native breed.


Chapter II – The Redcap in Early Shows


In the 'Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman' dated January 25th 1859 a report of a show was recorded that took place on the 18th, 19th and 20th January at Chesterfield.


Redcaps first J. Hollins, Sheffield, second G. Marshall, Chesterfield

Chickens of 1858 first J. Woollen, Sheffield, second B. Oates, Sheffield.

On July 1st , 2nd, 4th and 5th 1859 a poultry show was held at Sheffield.

Redcap 1st J. Hollins, Owlerton, Sheffield 2nd J. Pattison, Dee Street, Sheffield 3rd Ruth Birks, Upper Hallam, Rivelin.

Single cocks 1st J. Hollins, 2nd J.Woollen, Heeley H.C. B. Oates, Owlerton

The report read: “We have next to do with classes peculiar to Sheffield which required separate Judges Messrs. Ellison and Hellewell undertook the task.   We allude to Redcaps of which there were three classes.   They appear to have much in common with Golden Hamburghs and probably at some remote period both belonged to the same stock.   The colours are the same.   The lop-comb which would be fatal to the Hamburgh, appears to be a merit in the Redcap.   The overgrown comb is also desirable and many of the best birds had what we in other birds should term excrescences growing at the back of their combs in the form of eccentric spikes sticking out in all directions.   The breed is however unquestionably pure as adults and the chickens were all alike.”

In the chicken class the first prize was won by J. Quin, Nether Green, Fulwood, second B. Oates, third J. Crookes, Owlerton, Sheffield.

In the Poultry Book 1867 Edition by W. B. Tegetmeier, who was a compatriot of Charles Darwin, there is a short article on Redcaps.

“At some of the shows in the North of England, prizes are offered for Redcaps in addition to those for Golden Spangled Hamburghs with which the Redcaps are often said to be identical.   In some localities these birds are highly valued as profitable fowls and abundant egg producers and we have seen thirty pens entered for competition at a Yorkshire show.   The chief points in which Redcaps differ from Spangled Hamburghs are in size, in combs and in markings.   In size they greatly excel the usual Hamburghs, being as large and compact as ordinary Dorkings and in markings they want the regularity and beauty of spangle so characteristic of Golden Mooney and Pheasant fowls, being much darker on the breast and other parts.   The most striking difference however is in the extraordinary development of the comb, this is increased in size to so great a degree, that the combs of the hens are much larger than those of the ordinary Hamburgh cocks, even when at their greatest size.   So enormous are they that it is almost impossible for them to balance on the skull and they constantly lop over to one side.   This, however, is not regarded as a serious defect by the amateurs of the breed, their aim being to produce combs that are of extreme size, square in front, well spiked and peaked behind, in fact a rose comb, immensely magnified.   The cocks not infrequently possess combs upward of three inches in breadth at the front and more than four inches in length, measured to the end of the peak behind.   Valuable as Redcaps may be, both as table fowl and as enormous egg producers, we cannot do more than regard them as a local breed, not likely ever to rise into general estimation.   The excessive development of comb so highly valued by the fancier of the variety, is a property that would rather be regarded as a deformity by amateurs is general.”


 Chapter III - Lewis Wright on Redcaps

The illustrated Book of Poultry by Lewis Wright 1874 has a short article on Redcaps.   Nearly all older works on poultry describe among the Hamburghs a breed called the Redcap, for which, years ago, there was a special class at the Sheffield shows.   They were chiefly confined to the neighbourhood of that town, but Mr. Beldon informs us that even there they have almost disappeared: the last he has seen having been at a Sheffield show some years ago. They appeared to be a kind of mongrel Golden Spangled, larger in size and with immensely large rose-combs hanging over at the sides.   They were reputed to be hardy fowls and good layers.   In marking Mr. Beldon says they are like a very bad Golden-Spangled, being a kind of brown ground with sooty black half spangles and I see nothing to attract about them.   I have no doubt they are good layers, but they can hardly be any better than our Silver-Spangled breed.   We know of no source now that this Redcap Hamburgh can be procured, but were the Yorkshire Golden Pheasant bred with sole reference to size, laying qualities and extra development of comb, a breed so like it would be produced that we have no doubt whatever such was the origin of the variety.   The fowl was however a most useful one, answering to the American Leghorn in productiveness and hardiness.   Mr. Hewitt entertains the very highest opinion of them as general utility fowls, as the following interesting notes will show

“Of the Redcaps” he says:  “I can without hesitation speak most favourably, both as regards the production of eggs and also their value as a table fowl.   I have never kept them myself, but have been intimate with several parties who esteemed them most highly, long before the time that poultry exhibitions were instituted in the Midland Counties.   To a poultry amateur, whose eye has been previously tutored to the most important traits of character in Hamburghs generally, the Redcap at first sight represents nothing less than a mass of general disqualifications, as such parties very unjustly form their opinions by comparison with the code of rules by which the value of other varieties of Hamburghs are estimated.   Although the very profuse red comb, lounging in an ugly manner, the partially pendulous very red ear lobe, the just barely crescented feather in lieu of a spangle and the want of sprightly motion, so characteristic of all the Hamburghs, are far from ornamental, added to which the ground colour is anything but as sound as could be desired by the party whose search is exclusively for beauty of exterior, the compensation of these shortcomings is profuse:  for they are really a weighty and thick-bodied fowl (cocks weighing seven and a half pounds), of good flavour on the dish and if the eggs are weighed, as well as counted.   I believe them to be the most abundant egg producers of all our domestic poultry.   In reference to their eggs, I will mention a fact, and to which my attention was first directed by one of the oldest and most practical Birmingham confectioners.   If after being broken the same weight of eggs are used from Redcaps and Spanish fowls, the consistency of custards and so forth, obtained from the first-named breed proves nearly one third greater than from those of the Spanish.   To such parties as use considerable quantities of eggs for confectionery purposes this peculiarity of the Redcap make them much sought after and, I may add, each individual egg, when the fowls are well attended, is as fine and noble-looking a specimen as could be desired.

Redcaps are very hardy fowls, very rarely stop laying through stress of bad weather and the eggs laid, even under adverse circumstances, are generally strong-shelled, thus comparing very favourably with some of our best known laying varieties, when similarly situated.   Reputedly they are non-sitters, though I have witnessed a few cases of undoubtedly purely-bred birds sitting and perseveringly hatching out good broods;  but I never knew even a solitary instance in which they did not take proper care of their chickens when they had hatched them, they never left them to die through and want of hen-like care and attention.

Redcaps might possibly be obtained through some of the Midlands dealers or hagglers (Ed. – def. Hawker or pedlar) and as stock for a farmer will stand in the very first class, the meat being of most excellent quality.   Ornamental they can hardly be called, many of the cocks appearing to have the power of throwing over the comb to either side of the face at pleasure;  but their fine size and that of their eggs present the useful qualities of the Hamburgh without their most obvious deficiencies.

On March 9th 1882 the weekly issue of "Poultry" carried a report of a recent poultry show at Bonsall.   Redcaps 1 and 3, J. Dale, 2nd T. Watchhorn

v.hc T. Watchhorn, G. Marsden

h.c. T. Watchhorn, R. Heathcote


Chapter IV - Letters in “Poultry”

In the issue July 13th 1882 of “Poultry” the following letter was published:

“The Redcap is one of the oldest of our breeds of poultry and yet though it is second to none in useful properties, very little seems to be known about it.   There are, however, many more Redcaps kept in England than many people are aware of.   In some parts they go by the name of Derbyshire Redcaps, Yorkshire Redcaps, Old English Redcaps, Grammers, Moss Pheasants, Pheasant Fowls, etc., but no matter under what name they are known, they are great favourites wherever they are kept.   Years ago Yorkshire used to be noted for Redcaps and classes were provided for them at many of the Poultry Shows.   Since however the Hamburgh has gained such a footing in that county the Redcap has been very much neglected and it is only at two or three little shows, held by agricultural societies that there are classes provided for it.   By far the best Redcaps are to be found in Derbyshire.   Classes are provided for them at many shows and it is anoteworthy fact that wherever there is a class for Redcaps it is generally the best filled in the show,

Some people who know very little about the breed look upon the Redcap as nothing better than a mongrel.   They have certainly never seen good birds, or they would be of a different opinion.   During the last few years it has become a great favourite with farmers, cottagers and all others who keep poultry more for profit than fancy and it is gradually but surely making its way ahead.  From experience I find it breeds as true to points as most fowls.

Very little seems to be known as to the origin of the breed. None of our greatest authorities on poultry have much to say on this point.   Mr. H. Beldon writing in Lewis Wrights “Illustrated Book of Poultry” inclines to the opinion that it has been bred from the Gold Spangled Hamburgh and some other writers point to the same source.   From my observations I have long since come to the conclusion that the Redcap was produced by crossing the Gold Spangled Hamburgh with the Black Red Game Fowl.   However, it matters little how the breed originated, I have to deal with it as it is at the present time.

I will now proceed to give a short description of the breed as exhibited in Derbyshire:  The cock is as nearly as possible the same colour as the Black Red Game cock of about twenty years ago.   The neck hackle is very full and a much darker red than that of the Black Red Game cock of the present day and showing little of the black under-colour.   The saddle hackle is also darker and very long, hanging well over the wings, very large full tail with abundance of side sickles. 

The comb is a very large rose-comb, measuring, in good specimens, from three to four across and from five to six inches long to end of spike and standing perfectly erect on the head.   Combs larger than this are not desirable, though I have measured them an inch larger each way than above;  earlobes red;  legs dark slate colour;  weight from seven to eight pounds.

The ground colour of the hen is darkish nut brown, free from any smuttiness and well marked with black half moon spangling all over the body, almost like the Golden Spangled Hamburgh hen.   The neck hackle is black will laced with golden red;  the rose comb is about two inches broad, well spiked and perfectly erect;  earlobes and legs like the cock; weight about six pounds.   Combs falling over to either side, are a disqualification in either cocks or hens and so also are white earlobes.

In hardiness the Redcap is quite equal to the Game Fowl and very little, if any, inferior to that bird as a table fowl.   It is very plump and carries a large amount of meat with very little offal.   Several hotel proprietors whom I know always choose the Redcap for table whenever they have the chance and they inform me that very few of their guests can tell it from game.

As an egg producer I have no hesitation in saying that the Redcap is the best layer known.   Good stock will, on an average, turn out over 200 eggs each in a year and I have known a single hen lay upward of 250 in a year.   Redcaps are very precocious, the pullets often commencing to lay at eighteen weeks old.   It is, however, not advisable to encourage them to lay so early, as it stops their growth and the eggs are very small.   Well matured birds lay good sized eggs and scarcely ever cease laying in the winter except in the most severe weather.

They are non-sitters.   The chicks are very easily reared, but the best time for hatching them is in February, March, April and May.   Later, when the weather gets hot, they do not do so well as in the earlier months of the year."      Thom. Watchorn

Editor’s footnote:  Please bear in mind that some of the material in these articles was originally written as far back as 1867 and since that time good sense on comb size has prevailed and the Redcap standard now recommends a comb size much smaller, set straight on the head and carried well off the eyes and beak.


Chapter V - Redcap Correspondence

In the edition of “Poultry” for Aug. 3rd 1883 the following letter appeared: 

“Sir, I read with much interest, but greater astonishment, the article on Redcap fowls in a recent issue of Poultry.   The writer says that Yorkshire used to be noted for Redcaps.   True say I and Yorkshire has never ceased to be noted for her Redcaps and she has them yet to perfection;  not the puny mongrel things we see at Derbyshire Poultry Show, but an established breed, birds of value and beauty.   The writer of the article says by far the best Redcaps are now to be found in Derbyshire.   I ask him to tell me where?   I have seen the cracks (crocks) exhibited on the 15th of last month at Middleton by Youlgrave, eight pens of a couple each.   A few friends of mine can make a better show any day.   Derbyshires best blood was there from Winster, Elton and Gratton, where Mr. Watchorn got his breed from and I can truly say I would not introduce a drop of such blood into a Yorkshire strain.  

A hump-backed cock and an inferior hen took first prize.   The hen’s combs were in some instances merely warted, red and white deaf ears, small in size, light on the leg and very little feet.   Mr. Watchorn says the hens are rose-combed.   But what about the single combed hens they send into Sheffield market sold as table birds?   I wonder if the writer of the article has ever seen the old Sheffield bird.   I should like to know. 

It is the Jacobin Pigeon error over again.   A false standard is being set up by those who do not possess and understand the true Redcap.   Henry Garton, 285  Shoreham Street, Sheffield” 

In the issue of “Poultry” for August 17th 1883 the following letter appeared: 

“In your issue of the 3rd instant, I notice a few remarks respecting Redcaps as exhibited in Derbyshire.   I cannot as a thorough and honest poultry fancier, allow some of the statements to pass by unnoticed.   Mr. Garton says that, “Yorkshire has never ceased to be noted for its Redcaps”.   Possibly this may be true; but let me tell Mrs. G. Derbyshire is also at the present time very much noted for her Redcaps and without doubt she can produce the best exhibition Redcaps of the day, birds of real old established breed and beauty, as well as the poor puny mongrels described  by Mr. Garton. 

I think that the Derbyshire exhibitors have all their wits about them still and know what is the difference between a pure bred bird and a mongrel and if Mr. Garton should require any information respecting the two latter-named bred birds, he will find many of your readers glad to help him. 

Mr. Garton says that he was at the Middleton show, and saw the best Redcap exhibits that Derbyshire can produce.   No doubt some good birds were there and several really meritorious specimen.   Yet Mr.  Garton says that a hump backed cock and an inferior hen took first prize.   Your readers will note that at the show named there were eight pens of Redcaps exhibited and as Mr. Garton states the great cracks of Derbyshire were there, the rest of the class must have contained some queer looking specimens whilst the first prize pair were so bad, naturally one would wonder who judged this class of Redcaps – he must have been someone totally unacquainted with the breed;  but upon enquiry we find that they were judged by one of the best, if not the best recognised Redcap judge of the day, a gentleman who has kept and bred the Redcap and knows it in every point.   Could it be possible that he should have made so great a mistake?   I say No:  and in order to prove if mine or Mr. Garton’s statements are correct this poor (alleged to be) hump backed bird and its mate were last week again awarded two first prizes, one at Cromford under Mr. Crewe and another at Buxton under Mr. Teebay. 

I must tell Mr. Garton that the judge at Middleton will not award a prize to a white eared Redcap.   He says there is a trace of Golden Spangled Hamburgh in the breed and I believe those grand Redcaps kept by Mr. Garton and which were extolled at Middleton Show would if the truth were known, turn out to be a very fair representation of a Golden Spangled Hamburgh.   Mr. Garton produced at Middleton several wing, hackle and saddle feathers which he had extracted from his own birds and he stated that their combs grew to such an enormous extent that at the age of twelve month the birds were obliged to be killed. 

Let Mr. Garton make a tour through the hills of the northern part of Derbyshire, he will see at nearly every farmhouse a Redcap cock and some of these birds would make Mr. Garton somewhat surprised. 

We have scarcely a show now held in Derbyshire but where there are classes provided for the Redcap.   Is this the case in Yorkshire?   Mr. Garton was asked to send a pen of his birds to some of the Derbyshire shows, but this he declined to do believe that the breed is nowhere to be found as pure as it is in Derbyshire.   Perhaps Mr. Garton or some of your numerous readers will give us their opinion of the  Redcap – “VERITAS” 

Editor’s note:   This war of words from the 19th century demonstrates that these occurrences are nothing new.


Chapter VI

Letters to “Poultry”

In the issue of “Poultry” for August 24th 1883 the following letter appeared: The Redcap

Your correspondent ”VERITAS” seems to judge from his remarks published in your issue of 17th instant to imagine that  Redcaps are limited to Yorkshire and Derbyshire, simply, I suppose, from the fact that classes for the variety have been confined to poultry exhibitions held in the above counties.   Such, however, is not the fact.   The breed is and has been one on the most popular in the county of Notts, ever since its first introduction to this county and I may say that the first birds were imported into this town by a naval captain named Cramner who resided three quarters of a century ago on the borders of Nottingham Forest.. 

I can say that the breed has been continuously in my own family for upwards of seventy years.   The name they have always borne here is Cramners.   I have bred and kept the variety for half a century, up to within eighteen months ago, when my poultry run had to give place to town improvements.   I may also say that I always understood that Captain Cramner brought the variety from Northern Europe, Poland or Russia.

Your correspondent “Veritas” says he believes that the breed is nowhere to be found so pure as it is in Derbyshire.   My only regret is that the Committee of the forthcoming poultry show, to be held in Nottingham next October, have not provided a class for what, I always contend, is the best and most profitable variety of poultry in existence in size, quality and quantity, they have no equals.   No doubt Derbyshire and Yorkshire have many good specimens, fit for high competition, but their equals,

if not superiors, are to be found in the town of Nottingham, to say nothing about others to be found in the immediate vicinity of the town.


Redcap Fancier

“Poultry” August 31st 1883

The Redcap Fowl

Absence from home has prevented my replying earlier to be letter of Mr. Garton in your issue of August 3rd.   Mr. Garton contradicts my statement “that by far the best Redcaps are found in Derbyshire”.   His knowledge of the Derbyshire breed appears to have gained at a small show held at Middleton by Youlgrave on the 15th of last June.   I can scarcely enter into a discussion on the birds exhibited there, as I did not visit the show and am not aware that I have ever seen any of the birds that were there.   From his description of the winning birds I doubt if any of the cracks were at the show.   Had Mr. Garton been at Middleton Show two years ago he would have seen some good birds, as the following extract from the “Stock Keeper” of June 24th 1881 will show: 

“Redcaps were a large class (fourteen) and this seems to be their home.   We were very much interested in them.   They are fine large birds, much larger then the Hamburgh, with plumage like a bad Golden Spangled Hamburgh, with large combs and red ear lobes and look like being a useful fowl.   That they attain early maturity was evident by the fact that a pen of six chicks of this breed won first prize in the chick class and were full grown and laying, although evidently hatched this year.   We should certainly think that this class of fowl was a good one for both cottages and farms.   It is worthy of notice that one exhibitor took all the prizes in this class although a large one, his birds being fine in size and more uniform”

Mr. G. is quite at sea as to the locality from which I obtained my stock.   I am not aware there was a single bird in that neighbourhood until I introduced them there about seven years ago.

Mr. Garton wonders if I ever saw the old Sheffield bird.   I beg, therefore, to inform him that there is very little around in either Yorkshire or Derbyshire over which I have not travelled wherever there has been a good Redcap to be seen.  I have probably travelled more miles to see different breeders stock than he has yards and have bought scores of birds both in Yorkshire and Derbyshire as well as in other parts of the country.   I think it very likely that I have bred more birds of this breed than Mr. G. has ever had the pleasure of seeing.

I have several times seen the old Sheffield birds exhibited in Derbyshire, but never yet saw them carry off a prize.   If Redcaps are plentiful in Yorkshire, how is it, that there were no classes provided for them in the county except at one or two little shows in the neighbourhood of Sheffield where the entries are scarcely sufficient to carry off the prizes.   Committee of Poultry shows are not generally so unmindful of their interest as to neglect to provide classes for breeds that are likely to fill well and fanciers generally look after their particular hobby.

The number of Redcaps kept in and around Sheffield has increased very much during the last four or five years, but then where did they come from?   I have no hesitation in saying that three-fourth of them are either Derbyshire birds or have Derbyshire blood in them, for which I have very good proof.

Can Mr. Garton prove that the single-combed birds he mentioned are not cross-breeds and mongrels?   Whatever they may be, I think it quite likely that they have been collected in Yorkshire as well as in Derbyshire.   I have no hesitation in saying that the Redcap breeds are as true as any other pure breed.

The readers of “Poultry” would see in my previous letter the kind of bird in favour in Derbyshire.   Now what is the old Yorkshire Redcap in size it certainly cannot surpass the Derbyshire bird and in all other points it is behind it.   The only points I need mention are comb and colour.   The combs of both cocks and hens generally hang over one eye, thereby blinding them on that side.   Many of the old fanciers were in the habit of dubbing the cocks on this account.   The cocks are far too dark in colour, being often nearly black.   The ground colour of the hens much too light and very smutty with poor irregular spangling.   These two points would cause them to be passed over at any Derbyshire Show.

As a proof of the popularity of the Redcap here I need only add that every year sees fresh classes provided for them at our different Poultry Shows.

Thomas Watchorn, Peak Forest, Chapel en le Frith, August 22nd 1883


Chapter X - Veteran Breeders of Redcaps

Redcaps were well established in the vicinity of Chatsworth House.   One of the breeders was Mr. Siddons, the Edensor baker, who retired in 1940 to Hayle in Cornwall.   He said in a letter to the Poultry Press that Paxton had introduced the Redcap to Derbyshire and Chatsworth in 1865 and that the stud groom gave him a sitting when he was thirteen, which would be in the year 1885.   He died in 1966 at the age of ninety three.   He said there was an active club of thirty six members from several counties.   He was president for five years, also he was a Poultry Club judge and judged at many shows including Crystal Palace.   Mr. Siddons kept Redcaps until his death and while in Cornwall sold hatching eggs to many counties in England, Scotland, Ireland, Jersey and France.   Sir Joseph Paxton came to Chatsworth in 1826 and it was possible he introduced Redcaps at an earlier date to this part of Derbyshire, as they already had been shown at Chesterfield in 1855, ten years earlier than the year quoted by Mr. Siddons.   Sir Joseph Paxton designed Crystal Palace.

Mr. A. E. Wragg

Mr. Albert E. Wragg was a Yorkshire man by birth, he was probably the finest poultry breeder that ever lived in Derbyshire and won more prizes with Redcaps than anyone else who exhibited the breed.   He was a member of the Poultry Club in the 1880’s when members were only accepted of the highest standard of integrity, an earlier club having brought the fancy into disrepute.   He was also a judge and exported birds to many different parts of the world.   He was also president of the Redcap Club.   He kept his birds in Chatsworth Park and in a field along the old Bakewell road.   He did much to improve the breed and no doubt the numerous small breeders in the area improved their stock by using Mr. Wragg’s stock.   His family still live in Edensor and Darley Dale.   There were other families in the Bakewell area who were noted for their Redcaps, these were the Websters, Heathcotes, Ferns, Stones and many more too numerous to name.


Further letters taken from “The Derbyshire Redcap Fowl” – Its History by H. Hopkinson

In the issue of “Poultry” for September 7th 1883  the following letter appeared:

When I wrote my letter on the Derbyshire Redcap which was given in No. 23 of Poultry, I expected that I should unavoidably tread heavily on the toes of some deeply interested person.   Such appears to have been the case and judging by the style of the reply that appears in your issue of August 17th.

Veritas says “I cannot as a thorough and honest poultry fancier allow some of Mr. Garton’s statements to pass unnoticed.”   Now Sir, the question of debate is the Derbyshire Redcap pure and simple as described in your paper in the first place.   I say that Yorkshire has never ceased to be noted for her Redcaps.   Veritas says “that this may be true, but Derbyshire is also at the present time very noted for her Redcaps”

Since writing my first letter I have become a wiser man, thanks to the information given me and also for the privilege of inspecting a large number of Redcaps bred from Mr. Watchorn’s, Mr. Lomas’s and others of their noted breeders birds.   Now, how has this notoriety been brought about?   I answer and am upheld in this by those who have paid for their experience of the breed.   By persistent puffing, not by the essential merits of the breed.

Veritas says “Without doubt Derbyshire can produce the best exhibition Redcaps of the day”.   My first letter before I sent it was read by some of the oldest and best known breeders in these parts and one of them asked me to give a challenge to each and all of the Derbyshire breeders through your paper.   I will now ask:  Will any of them exhibit, for 10 to 20 to test which is the best breed in all essential points?   If they will, let them say in ”Poultry” as early as possible.

Mr. Garton and also his circle of friends will be glad to learn anything of “Veritas” or his exhibitors, who have all their wits about them.   But please send it through “Poultry” to benefit rising amateurs also.   Does “Veritas” know what a hump-backed Redcap is?   Can he tell one when he sees it?   I question it.   Was he at Middleton Show when I was?

I went into the show at 3 o’clock, conversing with Mr. Heathcote, gamekeeper of Winster, whose pen of Redcaps were there.   He pointed out the winner of the first prize to me.   “Why” I said, “he has a hump on his back”;  and he answered:  “yes” but it is equal on both sides of his back”.   This made me laugh and I replied, ”it is not”, for it is bigger on the left hand side than the right.   Look at it”.   He did so and said, “Ah, it is.   I had not noticed that”.   I then carefully examined every pen and gave my opinion that the pen of birds ticketed third was by far the best of the three winning pens.   I said “What judging!” and I say so today.   I asked “Does one judge do all the poultry and the answer was “Yes”.   “Well” I said “he will never judge mine or any of my friends”.

I was then surrounded by a group of questioners to whom I showed a pullets wing and some hackle feathers from a dead cock.   I was told that we never had any Redcaps in Sheffield till theirs were sent to us.   “When?” I asked.   And the astounding reply was, “Never before the last eight years”.   I was asked to describe mine and others, which I did in a plain and truthful way.   As I spoke of size and colour, my words excited incredulous smiles and banter from several at once.   But when I was asked why I did not exhibit it, and gave as my reason because I had not got a cock with his comb and wattles on, being obliged to cut both off to enable the birds to see and feed, their countenances showed me that I was regarded as a common liar.   “Veritas” says I there stated my birds combs grew to such as enormous size the birds had to be killed at the age of twelve months.   This statement of his shows his profound ignorance of the Redcap.   I ask him.   Does putting a Redcap, or anything else into a show improve the breed?   If so, it will save immense expense.   He will perhaps tell me what kind of show is best.  

On August 16th Mr. Stone of Elton examined and handled my Redcaps and I have no doubt, “Veritas” knows before this is published how much of the Hamburgh is in them.   I am advised to make a tour through Derbyshire etc.   My ancestor lived for many years in that county, so I don’t need the advice.   I would sooner see a Derbyshire name than a Latin disguise for one any day.

Henry Gratton, Sheffield


Editors Note ("Poultry" weekly)

“This Redcap discussion is waxing very warm.   We counsel a little more moderation.   We shall be glad if we can arrange it, to give an illustration of each type, so as to enable our readers to judge for themselves.   Can Mr. Watchorn and Mr. Garton find suitable subjects for us?”


Ed: I can assure club members that the shows are much more congenial these days.



TO BE CONTINUED                                                                                                                                     

 ©Derbyshire Redcap Club 2024








CHANGE LOG:  26th September 2020 - V2P form + show cancellation banners

                            27th October 2020 - V3P form - change of secretary

                            3rd November 2020 - Chapter I & II - H. Hopkinson added

                            23rd January 2021 - Diary dates amended as affected by CV19 lockdown restrictions.

                            30th September 2021 - AGM information posted with new venue - updates to the shows information - Events banner enabled

                            1st October 2021 - Upload membership application form V4P with Acting Secretary's details

                            9th October 2021 - Photo of  S & E Johnson (East) cup added

                            12th March 2022 - Update to show details

                            19th March 2022 - Hopkinson Chapters III & IV added

                            30th March 2022 - Show dates updated

                            14th June 2022 - Update due to ongoing Avian Flu outbreaks

                            31st July 2022 - National & Federation Show cancellations due to more ongoing Avian Flu outbreaks.

                            18th September 2022 - Date and time details of 2022 AGM updated - Events banner on HOME page updated with AGM details.

                            6th October 2022 - Downloadable Membership Form V5P updated with latest membership fees and Secretary's details

                            20th October 2022 - General edit due to increasing Avian Flu outbreaks

                            25th March 2023 - Minor changes to text with reference to cancelled bird shows - DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRA FEATURES ON WEBSITE IN PROGRESS

                            18th August 2023 - Add note for HPPC egg show.  (Currently outbreaks of Avian Flu in SW Scotland)

                            23rd August 2023 - Add APHA/Poultry Club notice of shows ban being lifted in England.

                     4th September 2023 - Logo updated (GP) on Home page.

                    22nd September 2023 - Facebook Group link (text only) added on Home page.

                     30th September 2023 -  Rosettes added to Gallery

                      12th October 2023 - HPPC Eyam Show results - Redcap classes.

                     23rd December 2023 - FB link enhanced - AGM2024 details updated.

                     9th January 2024 - On line membership & enquiry forms validated.

                     28th January 2024 - PCGB show information added

                     3rd February 2924 - HPPC/Redcap Egg Show details added

                     13th February 2024 - Federation show information added

                     25th March 2024 - Hopkinson extracts from chapter IV to Vi & chapter X plus more letters to "Poultry"  (weekly paper)