views updated Jun 27 2018

fox-hunting. The medieval chase, so much loved by monarchs, was mainly of the deer, either in royal forests or in deer parks. Foxes, regarded as vermin, were killed by farmers and labourers, but without undue ceremony. But by the 17th cent., deer were becoming scarce, as guns took their toll and woodlands diminished. For some time hunters carried on with carted deer, but they were troublesome, expensive, and unsatisfactory. Hares made a good substitute and could be hunted on foot. Organized fox-hunting developed in the late 17th and early 18th cents. The Monsons were hunting foxes in the Burton in Lincolnshire in the 1670s, the Arundells in the 1690s in what became the South and West Wiltshire Hunt: the Puckeridge Hunt dated from 1720, the Belvoir from 1730. Hugo Meynell, who hunted with the Quorn, acquired a national reputation, breeding hounds and horses with great care. The lead was taken by local noblemen, since keeping a pack of hounds was expensive and prestige helped to obtain permission to hunt over other people's fields. Ritual, costume, and terminology developed—‘pink’, ‘brush’, ‘mask’. By the 19th cent. fox-hunting was becoming a national tradition, with its own sporting writers like Charles Apperley and Surtees, and the walls of countless taverns adorned with paintings and comic prints. An Association of Masters of Foxhounds was set up in 1881. But the same century saw the beginning of serious criticism of hunting and the 20th cent. produced its hunt saboteurs and ugly clashes at meets. Despite the hostility of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the League against Cruel Sports, there were 190 packs of foxhounds in the 1970s, more than in Edwardian England. In Scotland, where fox-hunting had never been as popular, there were fewer than a dozen packs. Fox-hunting with hounds was made illegal in 2005.

J. A. Cannon


views updated May 21 2018

fox-hunting Blood sport, in which horse riders with foxhounds pursue a fox across country. The hunting season lasts from November to April. In the UK, calls for the abolition of fox-hunting have widespread public support.