History of fox hunting in Draycott

Soon it will be the first day of 2015 – and New Year’s Day has been traditionally identified as a very important day for local fox-hunting meets.  Although hunting with dogs has been illegal since 2005, hunts still go out on this day, though not with the purpose to kill foxes.
The Meynell & South Staffs Hunt has started its New Year’s Day meet in nearby Uttoxeter for the last few years.

Hunting history

North-East Staffordshire, like all rural areas, has a long hunting history.
In fact, we were reminded of this district’s fox-hunting past on seeing the two stuffed fox-heads on the walls in The Draycott Arms.

draycott arms fox

Fox head at the Arms. The inscription reads ‘Killed Ring Bank, Dec 26th 1957’ – presumably at a Boxing Day meet?

Draycott was a favourite meeting place for one hunt, the famous North Staffordshire Hunt (whose patron in the middle of the nineteenth century was the very rich Duke of Sutherland, who lived at Trentham Hall).  The North Staffs Hunt is still in existence.
According to Matthew Pointon’s History Of Draycott-in-the-Moors, riders often gathered at the Bird-In-Hand pub, which is on the road out to Hilderstone.  The woods around the pub, Hose Wood and Bromley Wood, and other parts of the former Draycott Family estate, created conditions that the Hunt was attracted to.

Bromley wood on hill

Looking south to Bromley Wood up on the hill – a former hunting ground

Earliest records of formal ‘hunts’ from the 1820s mention the now long-gone ‘Moorland Foxhounds’, which Matthew thinks also would have crossed local land.  This was an ancestor of the present Moorlands Hunt.

The date of the Draycott Arms fox-head is 1957 – though the inscription does not make it clear if the fox was chased down by hunting dogs or simply shot as a pest.  Presumably it was killed during a hunt – but where is ‘Ring Bank’, which is named as the site of the kill?

Do you know…?

It certainly would be interesting to know if fox-hunts still occurred locally in the twentieth century. Does anyone know?
However, hunting foes to the kill is a sight we are unlikely to see in Draycott in this century…

Draycott Hunt, Dec 2007

A substitute form of hunting with hounds still goes on. This scene was snapped in December 2007 near New Buildings Farm, on the Hilderstone Road (pic: JC)

See below for some interesting comments on fox-hunting of the past in Draycott.

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2 responses to “History of fox hunting in Draycott

  1. Hunting, years ago

    If hare hunting ever took place in the parish…it would probably been in the Newton/Painsley Hall area…which is the only place that I’ve seen hares in the parish.

    Ring bank!??? Could this refer to the long hill going from behind the old Post Office, sloping gradually towards Cresswell…personally saw many foxes in that area when l was young. Why “ring bank?”…at the very top of this slope there is now a private house (built by the Vavasour family?)…and there used to be a cock fighting ring there…it may even still be there.

    I witnessed quite a few hunt gatherings at the Bird in Hand pub, as my Grandfather owned property at Marley Hollows which he purchased when he retired from the Guards. He built his own bungalow there and earned his living selling eggs which his substantial flock had layed.
    His brother…I’m led to believe…was the last village Bobby for Hilderstone…he patrolled the village on a bicycle.
    Nigel Peake


  2. There also used to be hunts on foot (with Basset-cross Beagle hounds) when hares would be the prey. The Westerby hounds in Leicestershire are one such group. A friend was a “whipper in” and used to work with the hounds in the seventies and eighties.

    Does anyone know if hare-hunting ever took place around here?


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