Thousands turned out to support the Avon Vale Hunt on Boxing Day as Lacock became awash with wellies and tweed.

More than three thousand cheering supporters assembled in the centre of the village despite the ban on fox hunting introduced in February.

Hunt master Jonathan Seed kept his message short and defiant as he addressed the crowds from the saddle of his horse outside the Red Lion.

"Thank you very much for being here and we'll be here again next year," he cried. The message was met by loud cheering and applause that continued as the hunt rode through the crowd and out into the fields.

Inspector Glynn Hookings, of Melksham Police, said they had received no indication that any anti-hunt protesters were intending to come and by the end of the day there had been no reported problems.

Insp Hookings said: "We've got 20 police officers out and our main concern with this number of people around is for public safety and traffic management." He said that the police were not recording the hunt.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray attended the hunt and was delighted with the amount of support. He said: "It demonstrates the strength of support for hunting carried out within the law and as far as I'm aware the hunt was carried out entirely legally.

"People do feel very strongly about this and each year the antis say this will be our last ever Boxing Day hunt. Well today has demonstrated that that is total rubbish based on prejudice and ignorance."

Mr Gray usually rides in the hunt but is still recovering from ruptured tendons after slipping on a footpath in Cornwall in August.

Thelma Pearce, of Neston, has a daughter who belongs to the hunt and has herself been attending the hunt for more than 25 years. She said: "It's lovely to see so many people out today but it's also nice to see that a lot of those people are young people and that bodes well for the future."

More than 100 horses took part in the Boxing Day hunt with a trail being laid and a bird of prey also being used. Mr Seed said no foxes had been killed by the hounds.

John Giles normally follows the Vale of the White Horse Hunt but this year drove over from Wootton Bassett to see the Avon Vale Hunt ride out.

He said: "It's a good day out and I don't think they'll ever be able to stop it."