Hunting is an age-old sport which has firm roots in the UK countryside. The traditional hunt that we all know and love was brought to England by the Normans, although the sport itself has a history that goes back to the beginning of our existence. From deer and stag hunting, to the more modern art of fox hunting, the UK’s huge variety of parks, forests and greenery has provided a perfect place for hunting for hundreds of years.
We’ve collected four of the UK’s top hunting grounds, and the hunts that made them famous, so that you can start to understand the history behind the sport you love.
The New Forest, Hampshire
One of the most famous national forests in the UK is the New Forest. Named ‘Nova Foresta’, or ‘New Hunting Forest’ by William The Conqueror, this 566km woodland has a long history of hunting as it is rich with wildlife, including five species of deer. The most common species, fallow deer, were introduced to the New Forest by the Normans and were hunted by the elite for enjoyment and food.
Today, hunting in the New Forest is not permitted unless it is with the New Forest Hounds, who have a licence to hunt on trust-owned common areas in the forest. Founded in 1789, the New Forest Hounds continue the tradition of hunting in the area with their famous Boxing Day hunt, which draws visitors of over 25,000.
Bilsdale, Yorkshire Moors
The dale of Bilsdale is located in North Yorkshire and is ten miles of classic English countryside. The mooreland is recognised for the Bilsdale Hunt, which is said to be England’s oldest fox hunt and is so famous that it even features in the Waterson’s well-known song Dido, Bendigo. Established in 1668 by the Duke of Buckingham, this hunt covers a 300 square mile area and is still running today, welcoming hunters from all class backgrounds.
In northern Bedfordshire, Oakley is a parish of which hunting is at the heart. At its prime, in the 19 th century, the Oakley Hunt was a predominately fox and hare hunt, which had access to land not only in Oakley but also Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. It was formed by the fourth Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey in 1763 and continues to make the headlines to this day. In 2006, the hunt was featured in The Telegraph after the hunting ladies created a naked calendar to raise money to help look after the hunting hounds.
Hyde Park, London
Originally wild meadows that belonged to the monks of Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park in London was fenced off in 1536 by King Henry VIII, who turned it into his personal hunting ground. The park’s large variety of deer, boar and wild bulls, along with its ideal location, made it a popular hunting ground for royalty and visitors to visit and feast. The park remained a hunting ground until 1625, when Charles I turned it into a public park for visitors to celebrate occasions such as May Day.
To keep the great British hunting tradition thriving, buy yourself some new hunting equipment in our online shop. We have a wide range of guns and products that are perfect for any hunter and any hunt.