Blood Sports

Cock Fighting

There were several cockpits including the Spread Eagle Inn, the Angel Inn (both in Fenkle Street), The Crown, Greenwell and the main one at Pottergate Tower which was supported by the Alnwick Corporation 1695-1892.

Bull Baiting

Bull Baiting took place in the Market Place. In 1804 Percival Stockdale, the vicar of Lesbury vehemently protested about the barbarous activity. Coinciding with the Town Improvement Act in 1822, the cruel sport was finally banned in the town, thirteen years before it was banned nationally by an Act of Parliament. Originally bull baiting was encouraged not simply as a sport but a regulation for butchers – baiting supposedly improved the quality of the meat. In 1709 a local butcher Henry Herrison escaped punishment by a not proven verdict by the Court Leet after killing his bull by not baiting it. Town Corporations took responsibility for the maintenance of the bull ring. In 1750 Alnwick labourer William Young was paid 10d by the Borough Council for going to Alnmouth for a rope to bait a bull. Bull baiting was enthusiastically witnessed by men and women. Cruelty not only involved the bull but also the trained dogs. Tate describes how in 1773 ‘a bull was baited and treated with such wantoness’ that it lay down and died. Also, in 1773 a bull ‘was so baited, that enraged it threw down two tradesmen, one of whom had his leg broken , and the other received a severe wound in the head’. On another occasion, ‘a bull broke loose and galloped wildly through the streets, tossing dogs lifeless in the air and trampling down those blocking his way’.


Hunting in the area was under the auspices of the Percy Hunt within the Percy borders and the Duke also held exclusive gaming rights for shooting in a working relationship with the Freemen.