Big reception for Boxing Day hunt

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton. Leading the hounds is the whipper in George Adams EMN-141226-140537009
The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton. Leading the hounds is the whipper in George Adams EMN-141226-140537009
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About 1,000 people turned out to enjoy the colour and sounds of the historic Boxing Day hunt in Peterborough.

The 270-year-old Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt saw almost 1,000 spectators turn out to see about 90 riders take part in the traditional event.

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton EMN-141226-140211009

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton EMN-141226-140211009

The hunt was one of more than 300 to take place across the country and will be followed by another long established meet on New Year’s Day at the Haycock Hotel, off the A1 exit coming into Wansford.

It also proved to be a celebratory afternoon for huntsman George Adams who is enjoying his 30th season in the role.

This is believed to make him the longest serving huntsman in the country.

The day’s event had extra significance for the participants coming almost a decade after the fox hunting ban began.

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton EMN-141226-140025009

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton EMN-141226-140025009

The meet last Friday saw hounds flush out foxes. The falconer, John Mease, would then release golden eagle Erlan to hunt them down.

Joint Master Philip Baker (36) who organised the hunt, said: “It’s the biggest day of the hunting season. We were really pleased to see such support for our way of life and the hunt in general.

“It was extremely enjoyable to see so many people turn up to watch. It was a lovely cool, crisp, winter’s morning.

“Our method is not how we would like to do the job but it’s one of the legal methods we have to control fox numbers.”

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton. The Hunt falconer John Mease with his bird Erlan EMN-141226-140135009

The Fitzwilliam Hunt Boxing Day meet from the Bell at Stilton. The Hunt falconer John Mease with his bird Erlan EMN-141226-140135009

The hunt began at midday in front of a enthusiastic onlookers at the Bell Inn, in Stilton.

The hunt, which saw regulars and newcomers come together, covered 30 miles and finished around 4.45pm in Steeple Gidding, Huntingdon.

There were a few fallers amongst the riders, but no serious injuries were sustained.

Huntsman Adams was assisted in his duties by whipper-in, Simon Hunter.

The hounds are kept at Milton Park in Peterborough which has always been owned by the Fitzwilliam family.

Currently it is in the possession of Senior Master Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland.

The group hunt twice a week during the season which runs from September to mid-March, although the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day hunts are seen as the high points in the calendar.

Joint Master Baker is hoping to see even more people come and take part in the New Year’s Day meet.

He said: “Absolutely everybody is welcome to come and enjoy the spectacle.”