They may not chase foxes any more, but Suffolk Hunt continues the tradition of the Boxing Day meet as a spectacle for the public.
And this year’s meet at Hawstead, as guests of Andrew and Claire Brown, was no exception for the hunt, which was founded in 1745, making it one of England’s oldest.
Senior master Lesley Henniker-Major said: “We had an enormous number of foot followers come to see the spectacle – I was very pleased with the number of people.
“Boxing Day is our big public meet. It is a wonderful spectacle and we can still do it.”
Huntsman Sean Hutchinson fielded a pack of 16-and-a-half couple of hounds (33) and there were about the same number of riders.
The hounds follow trails of artificial scent laid by dragging bundles of rags soaked in it across the fields for about 10 miles.
Suffolk Hunt was already a century old when Charles Dickens first visited Bury St Edmunds, having been founded by the Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall. Today its country covers 24 miles from Shadwell in the north to Long Melford in the south and about the same distance from Redgrave in the east to Denston in the west.
The hunt usually meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays from autumn to the end of March.