Boutique famous Somerset hotel The Newt at centre of fox hunting row

The famous Newt hotel near Castle Cary is at the centre of a huge row and campaign against fox hunting. Anti-hunting group Protect the Wild claims the hotel, voted the best boutique hotel in the world, has in the past allowed fox hunting by the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale hunt. The hotel denies this.

The hunt featured in footage shown on Channel Four where a fox was illegally killed and it was suspended by its own governing body the British Hound Sports Association on January 24.

Six men were interviewed by police under caution and were all released under investigation. Two weeks after the ban came into effect, the BHSA announced that the Hunt would be able to resume hunting activities on Thursday, February 15.

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A spokesperson for the British Hound Sports Association said: “As a result of a meeting of the BHSA with representatives from the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt on Wednesday, February 7, the hunt will be able to resume hunting activities for a probationary period with effect from Thursday, February 15, 2024 The hunt will be restricted to four days of trail hunting during this probationary period which lasts until the end of their trail hunting season on February 24.”

The hotel denies it allows the hunt on its estate but campaigners are still waging a war against hunting at the hotel, and a petition with 11,000 signatures has been gathered. A demonstration is being organised by anti hunt protesters at the Chelsea Flower Show this Saturday – the Newt is one of the main sponsors of the RHS event, one of the biggest summer events in the capital.

SomersetLive and our sister print titles have been contacted by several people protesting about alleged fox hunting at the Newt. We have contacted both the hotel and the RHS but neither has responded.

On May 18 the hotel management wrote to members of Protect the Wild stating no fox hunting is scheduled to take place on its land, but campaigners are resolute and say their demonstrations will continue.

Robert Pownall, founder of Protect the Wild, said: “Our campaign to ban the BSV Hunt and indeed any hunt from being hosted at The Newt in Somerset continues and we ask the hotel to respond to our simple yes or no question - are hunts indefinitely banned from all land owned by The Newt in Somerset?”

SomersetLive and our sister print titles made several attempts to contact the hotel but have not received a response.

On Saturday, May 18, the hotel wrote to Mr Pownall. The email said: “In response to your recent petition we would like to clarify that in recent years no fox has been hunted at the Newt at all.

“We checked with long time employees on the estate who confirmed that in fact no fox has been hunted there in living memory. The Newt has neither hunting horses nor hounds. Nor is any hunt of any description at all scheduled to occur on the estate.”

Despite this, campaigners are planning to go ahead with their protests outside the gates of the Chelsea Flower Show later this week.