Thousands of people crowded into Lacock on Boxing Day for the traditional Avon Vale hunt from the village.

The streets were brought to a standstill as the hunt set off across the countryside at 11am with 100 riders and large packs of dogs.

Jonathan Seed, master of the hunt, said: “It was a very big crowd, the biggest we can remember. The radio said 7,000, but we think probably four or five thousand. We had 100 on horses. It was a really good day.

“We had a lot of young people out and a lot of people who followed on foot and in cars. It was a very good afternoon.

“Overall, I think the day went brilliantly. It was really good festive family fun which everyone seemed to enjoy.”

This year is Mr Seed’s last as master of the hunt as he will be stepping down after the hunt’s meeting in March after 12 years in charge.

He said: “I look back with great fondness. I’ve got 20 years as a master and hunter in Wiltshire and now I think it’s time to move over.”

He said he was confident the ban on fox hunting, introduced in 2004, would be overturned by Parliament in the forseeable future.

The ban made hunting with dogs a criminal offence, although exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot is still legal.

“We’ll get the ban overturned in due course,” he said.

“The minister in charge has said he’d like to see it overturned, we’ve just got to wait for the right time as the coalition has lots of other things to do.”

At the start of next year’s season Stuart Radbourne, 27, a farmer from Bromham, will become the new master of the hunt.

He said: “I’m looking forward to taking it on.

“I’ve been involved in hunting all my life, and the last 10 years with Avon Vale. I’d like to thank Jonathon. I’m where I am today because of his encouragement and support.”