Hunting counties of Britain: Suffolk

  • Foxhounds

    • Essex and Suffolk (started in 1794)
    • Suffolk (started in 1745, when the Duke of Grafton was hunting this area)
    • Thurlow: the earliest references date back to the reign of Edward III in the 14th century,
      but James I is generally credited for forming this hunt
    • Waveney: formerly the Waveney Harriers from 1960, in 2004 it was officially recognised by the MFHA as hunting both hare and fox

    Other packs

    • East Anglian Bloodhounds
    • Easton Harriers
    • Newmarket Beagles

    What kind of country is it?

    Often labelled as “flat farmland”, Suffolk has much more to offer. There are no cities or motorways obstructing the acres of open farmland. The terrain varies from deep plough in the heart of Suffolk to the gentle undulations in “Constable Country” — the picturesque valley in Essex and Suffolk’s Dedham Vale.

    James Aldous, master of the Suffolk, says: “It’s plough country — and a farmers’ pack. It’s mostly arable farmland with ditches, requiring a sensible horse like an Irish Draught/Thoroughbred who will jump any ditch.”

    Robin Vestey, Thurlow joint-master, describes their country as “principally arable with three or four pockets of grassland and a combination of small spinneys and larger woods. We’re extremely lucky not to have a railway or seriously major roads carving through the country. Since the ban, we’ve made more hunt jumps and laid hedges to entertain the ladies and gentlemen.”

    Common to all Suffolk hunts is the inclination to jump ditches.

    “You do need to be able to tackle ditches. Some can be seriously big,” says Tizzie Craggs, secretary of the Waveney. “You need to be forward-going — it’s not for wimps.”

    Where would you go for a red-letter day?

    The Essex and Suffolk country covers more grassland than typically expected in Suffolk, courtesy of joint-master James Buckle’s estate at Semer.

    Liz Reid, fellow joint-master, also suggests Harkstead on Shotley peninsula: “It’s beautiful open country down by the coast, with lots of grassland.”

    Tizzie Craggs says: “We hunt in the Waveney Valley, which is fairly undulating. People who like big ditches enjoy the meets around Metfield and Cratfield; for those who don’t, the Somerleyton estate [former site of eventing’s novice championships] would be best.”

    James Aldous acclaims the farmers’ co-operation that allows the hunt almost unlimited access: “It’s very open around Bury, where various meets cover the several 1,000 acres open to us there. Also, our opening meet in Chadacre, near Long Melford, has a variety of open fields and proper woodland.”

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