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