The Club was founded in 1935 by Major R Walker-Munro. There were 19 founder members and 15, including 6 ladies, took part in the first day’s play on 15 May. The Club was called Rhinefield Polo Club, the ‘Rhinefield’ being taken from Major Walker-Munro’s residence Rhinefield Lodge (now Rhinefield House Hotel). From 1935 to 1939 polo was played at Ober Farm, Brockenhurst on a field lent by the founder. From 1940 to 1945 no polo was played due to the war.
Polo resumed in 1946 but the field at Ober Farm was not available. The ground was moved to New Park Farm, Brockenhurst by arrangement with the Forestry Commission and the tenant, the late Mr. W H Gossling, who was succeeded in 1970 by his son-in-law and daughter, and following Mr. Andrew Korbey’s death in 1986, by Mrs. Dorothy Korbey and their eldest son, John Korbey, who farmed New Park until 2005 when New Forest Agricultural Show Society took over the tenancy at New Park.
One of the original objects of the club was to provide inexpensive polo and to demonstrate that polo was not necessarily a game for the rich; it was therefore decided that, apart from ponies already belonging to members, no pony valued at more than £50 should be permitted to be played. From 1945 to 1949 this was raised to £80 but thereafter it was deemed unnecessary to preserve such a rule. However, the objective of the Club is still to provide inexpensive polo and to provide facilities and opportunities for ‘would-be’ players on modest incomes to join and progress. The Club also has a large number of junior members most of whom also play with the Pony Club.
Since its foundation the Club has had close links with the Royal Naval Equestrian Association (RNEA), which incorporated the older Royal Naval Polo Association. Until his death in 1979 at the hands of the IRA, the late Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Mountbatten of Burma was Patron of the Club and it was his influence that led to the RNEA giving the Bluejackets and Gieves Cups for the club’s annual summer tournament. Our late Patron and many other Naval Officers, including His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, have played at the Club.
The Club changed its name to the New Forest Polo Club in 1997 in accordance with the wishes of the outgoing President Colonel David Sylvester-Bradley OBE.