Tradition and opposition - Boxing Day hunts in Suffolk through the years
- Credit: Tudor Morgan-Owen/Archant
For around 200 years hunts have taken place on Boxing Day in Suffolk and north Essex. For some it's a post Christmas tradition, for others it's a barbaric practice.
This year, many Boxing Day hunts have been postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19 and December 26 falling on a Sunday.
But in years gone by the hunts have drawn large crowds keen to celebrate the county's heritage, while protestors seeking to ban the practice have also turned out.
The earliest known instance of dogs being used to hunt foxes comes from across the border in Norfolk when, back in 1534, farmers supposedly used their dogs to chase foxes as a form of pest control.
In Suffolk, organised hunts are believed to have occurred since at least 1791.
But in the 20th century the practice was becoming more controversial.
By the 1990s, anti-hunting activists were protesting against Boxing Day hunts in Suffolk.
In 2002 Scotland banned foxhunting. And in 2005, after several legal challenges, it became illegal for dogs to kill wild animals while on the hunt.
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Since then, hunts have had to follow an artificially laid trail of fox scent.
However there have been multiple attempts revive the practice, and in 2015 then prime minister David Cameron said he would give MPs a free vote on the issue in the House of Commons.
But more recently National Trust members voted to ban all trail hunting on the trust's land.