Police are investigating after Prince Charles’ favourite hunt rampaged through a quiet Cotswold town – allegedly chasing a fox.
Residents claim around 40 horses from the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt chased after a pack of hounds who sped through Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Terrified shoppers said they were forced to jump out of the way when the 15 hounds thundered through residential streets and leapt into gardens on Monday.
Peter Martin, 51, claims he saw a fox run past his garden gate, closely pursued by relentless dogs.
He said: “I was on the phone looking out the window and saw a fox legging it past my gate closely followed by a pack of hounds thundering down the road.
“I spoke to a lady who had seen them soon after by St Mary’s Church. They had gone all the way into town. She said she had been absolutely terrified.”
He said neighbours were too frightened to report the hunt to police, after they came off a field and into the village.
“People should be free to say they do not agree with the hunt, but they are afraid of being bullied,” he said.
“I spoke to a clearly frightened, distressed woman who had seen the hunt, but she didn’t want to leave her name.”
Shop owners claim they had to leap out of the way when the pack of dogs thundered through residential streets.
Jamie Smith, owner of Bath Bridge Barbers, said: “As I was walking out to get our sign at the top of the street, I had to get out the way.
“There were about 15 dogs at least.”
Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the hounds jumped over her garden wall.
“They leapt into my garden from the field and then ran into the road,” she said.
“Iâ€™m surprised they didnâ€™t get run over. I was quite frightened for them.”
But members of the hunt – popular with Princes Charles, William and Harry who were once regulars at the Boxing Day meeting – claim there was no fox.
They claim they were trail hunting – where the hounds hunt a scent that has been dragged over a planned course before the hunt.
Sue Ferguson who has been a Beaufort Hunt member for more than 20 years, said: “I thought it was fantastic seeing the hunt in town and lovely seeing people coming out of shops to watch.
“The hounds were as good as gold and nobody looked scared of them.
“There was certainly no fox in the High Street and the hunt would never chase one intentionally.”
A spokeswoman for Beaufort Hunt admitted the hounds had run loose in the centre of the village because riders were held back by an “unexpected wire”.
She said: “It seems some hunt staff were delayed by unexpected wire but soon caught up with the hounds and collected them all.”
Fox hunting as a sport was banned in England in 2004 and made illegal in 2005.
Police confirmed they were investigating after a member of the public reported seeing an alleged fox hunt.
A spokesman said: “Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call Gloucestershire Police. It would not be appropriate for us to give any information about anyone alleged to have been involved or not.”
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