Video and Photo Gallery: Thousands attend hunt meets across Norfolk and Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 10:14 27 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:14 27 December 2014
Copyright: Archant 2014
Freezing fog shrouded the hedgerows, on a day when even the legendary hunter Jorrocks would probably have stayed in bed.
But more than 1,000 were waiting at the Boxing Day meet, tweeds buttoned high against the cold, as Britain’s oldest pack of hounds came up the tree-lined drive to Raynham Hall.
The West Norfolk Foxhounds can trace their history back to the 1530s, when Henry VIII was on the throne.
Joint master Buffy Willcox, a farmer from Erpingham, said support for the hunt was as strong as ever almost five centuries later - despite the 2005 Hunting Act.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” he said, surveying the scene from his towering horse.
“It’s always a great spectacle when we get so many people from the area who come out on Boxing Day to see us.”
Hunt staff paraded the 35 sleek foxhounds in front of the hall, where they were fussed and patted by followers before setting off to work.
Among them was hunt supporter Rachel Scrawfield, 62, from Weeting.
“I support country sports, it’s in my blood,” she said. “I was brought up with the hounds, this is a Boxing Day treat for me, being able to come out with the West Norfolk.”
Addressing the meet before the off, Mr Willcox said the hounds would be hunting “well within the law”.
Pack members would almost certainly be far too young to remember the taste of what Oscar Wild once dubbed “the uneatable” in any case.
With a shrill blast of huntsman Charles Carter’s horn, they set off towards Helhoughton on the scent of a false trail instead.
The Waveney Harriers also enjoyed a good turnout for their meet at Earsham, led by master of the hunt John Ibbott.
Among the spectators was Bungay town recorder Andrew Atterwill, 42. He said: “It was an excellent turnout as always with people enjoying the horses and hounds. I usually like to go and photograph the hunt as it is my tradition.
“I was constantly moving from place to place as people jostled to get a good view. The Waveney Harriers always have a good turn out”.
Hundreds gathered in the centre of Wymondham to see the Dunston Harriers assemble for their Boxing Day meet.
Families lined the streets, as more than 20 horses and pack of hounds arrived in the town at around 11am.
Joint master Nigel Bloom thanked the crowed for braving the frosty temperatures to come out.
He said: “Our meet would not be the same without the support from the people of Wymondham. Thank you to each and every one of you, who have turned out on a chilly morning to see us all.”
Elsewhere, the Countryside Alliance claimed hunts acrosss England and Wales welcomed at least a quarter of a million supporters, on foot and on horseback, to their Boxing Day meets.