Not a sab was in sight when the Tedworth hunt met in Pewsey today for the first time since the pandemic began.

Nobody protested, there were no placards and no police were needed to control anti-hunt demonstrations – because there were none.

Instead, the only demonstration was a silent one of support as scores of families turned out to gleefully watch more than 40 riders meet in the North Street car park to celebrate an ancient countryside tradition.

Children petted the horses and the hounds leapt up eagerly for a pat as members of the community gathered just as generations had done for decades.

There had been fears that the meet may have been greeted with protestors after anger was expressed on the village’s Facebook site that the parish council had given permission for the hunt to meet in the car park.

Anti-hunt voices protested after some people were under the impression that the council has given permission for hunting on its land, and consequently they called for councillors to lose their seats.

But the council explained that councillors had only given the go ahead for the hunt to gather in the car park, where it traditionally has done for years.

A council spokesman explained: “The car park used to be owned by Wiltshire Council and the hunt has met there for years. Eighteen months ago the ownership was transferred to the parish council. We have given permission for the meet in the car park, that is all. As soon as they move off and wherever they go they are no longer on our land, they are not hunting on our land.”

The Tedworth hunt, which has kennels outside Burbage, says it hunts legally by laying a trail, not by chasing a fox.

In a statement on its website it says: “The object of trail hunting is to simulate, as realistically as possible, traditional hunting as practised before the ban. A trail is laid using a fox-based scent, usually fox urine. The trail is laid across the countryside taking a route that simulates a fox, through woods, along hedgerows, coverts, ditches and open land. It is laid by dragging a scent soaked sock, cloth or sack along the ground. The less the huntsman knows of the route of the trail, the more realistic and challenging it becomes, replicating a real foxhunt.”

And at today’s event, the Master of the Tedworth hunt thanked the crowds for clearly demonstrating their approval of a local gathering of horse and hounds.

“On behalf of all of us we are so grateful that you have turned out in such numbers to support the hunt, a way of life and all that we love of the countryside,” said the Master.

“Such a wonderful show of support means such a lot to us. We have gathered here for so many years and we hope that we shall for many years to come.”