Slideshow: Boxing Day hunt in Lewes pulls in the crowds

The Southdown and Eridge Hunt’s traditional meet in Lewes on Boxing Day attracted bumper crowds.

People gathered in brilliant sunshine as more than 60 hunt members on horseback clattered up School Hill with the pack of hounds to The White Hart Hotel, where stirrup cups were enjoyed.

Boxing Day hunt 2013

Boxing Day hunt 2013

The hunt then made its way to the old Lewes Racecourse to follow trails laid on the South Downs.

The county town reflected a national trend. The Countryside Alliance said: “Hunts across England and Wales welcomed more than quarter of a million people, on foot and on horseback, to their Boxing Day meets, showing support for hunting is as strong as ever, despite nine years of the failed and illiberal Hunting Act.”

Around 45,000 people follow hunts on horseback and many thousands more support them on foot and quad bikes.

More than 300 hunts are registered with the Hunting Association and at least 10,000 people are sustained by hunting – directly or indirectly, in jobs such as farriers, saddlers, vets and feed merchants.

Around 500 staff are employed full-time by hunts.