Traditional Boxing Day hunt postponed - here's why

Hadleigh, Suffolk. Members of the Essex and Suffolk hunt gather in Hadleigh on Boxing Day.
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This years Essex & Suffolk hunt will take place a day later, on Monday 27 December, in Hadleigh. - Credit: Mark Bullimore

Traditionally, hunts would ride out across Suffolk on Boxing Day but this year country fields will remain silent.

Due to Boxing Day falling on a Sunday, the Essex & Suffolk Hunt will instead meet on Monday December 27, in Hadleigh. Meanwhile, the Suffolk Hunt has decided not go ahead to prevent a potential spread of Covid. 

James Buckle from the Essex & Suffolk Hunt, who are believed to have been hosting events since 1791, said: “The Essex & Suffolk Hunt is delighted to be meeting at Holbeck’s Park this year.

"We hope that people can plan their festivities to ensure they are still able to show their support for our hounds at the traditional Boxing Day meet.”

Senior Master of the hunt, Mr Buckle continued: "Hunting is very much about tradition with the Essex and Suffolk meeting in Hadleigh for over 200 years, unfortunately it has just got too big to continue in the market Square and so we have moved the 500m to Holbeck's Park.

"The huntsman is in charge of the hounds and carries the horn to encourage and help them, he has an assistant or two to help keep control especially when crossing a highway.

Hadleigh, Suffolk. Members of the Essex and Suffolk hunt gather in Hadleigh on Boxing Day.
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Senior Master of the hunt, James Buckle, says "people still love the tradition" of a boxing day hunt. - Credit: Mark Bullimore

"Then comes the field master who is in charge of all the followers, trying to get them in a position where they can see what is happening without being in the way.

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"Ideally at least once or twice during the day hounds will find a trail and we can then all follow on. On a normal day we will cover some 20 miles although the hounds will have gone considerably further."

He explained there is a mix of riders out on the hunt and said: "Hunting is not just about galloping around the countryside and we often have very pedestrian days which is why we have such a fantastic mix of followers, all hunting for their own different reasons.

"I love watching our hounds working and nothing is more exciting for me than when they find a trail, the lead hound will start with a whimper and then when they all join in the music is just wonderful.

"Even without that, and on a day with little scent, just being out in the countryside on my horse is a real privilege and one that I will never take for granted.

"I always love the day, seeing the support that hunting gets gives encouragement that, despite the changes we have had to make, people still love the tradition."

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