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The Fox

899 of 1160 nominations


The Fox

Is this an icon?


The Fox

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is native to a whole swathe of temperate zones in the northern hemisphere, but occupies a particularly exalted place in English life. It is one of our most distinctive wild mammals, noted for its wily resourcefulness and its intelligence. In medieval times, it was the central character in the stories of Reynard, the scheming trickster who was always getting himself into scrapes, but was highly skilled at talking himself out of them too. When held to account for his actions by the lordly Lion, Reynard was not above a measure of defiant backchat. It was in this guise that he came to symbolise the rural peasant’s contempt for feudal landowners.

In the centuries that followed, the fox found itself playing an unwilling starring role in the last of the major bloodsports to be outlawed in England. Hunted down by packs of dogs, as well as humans on horseback, it was supposedly getting its just deserts for its predatory nature – which may have come as a surprise to it, since it wasn’t aware of being capable of moral choice, being only an animal.

Photo: TopFoto.co.uk/Laurie Campbell


Your comments

The Fox, and not the hunting of it, should be an English icon. Foxes are smart, hardy creatures that live off their wits. They are indefatigable unless grossly outnumbered, and as can be seen from their migration into urban centres, flexible in their ways.

Pete Helliwell

We have an ambivalent relationship with the Fox. I tend to side with him and though he can be a great nuisance, he is admirable for his intelligence and is English in character which is why he got my vote. Read John Masefield's 'Reynard's Last Run' and you would agree. I saw a splendid dog-fox here in Hove a few nights ago cross one of the main roads by a bus-stop where a number of people were waiting. They parted to let him go past - he held his head up, he didn't hurry: it was clear he made a great impression. Such audacity is admirable in a wild creature.
John Rivers-Vaughan

I have been watching countryside animals all my life. Although at times I have had some admiration for Charlie, my real admiration is for 'Puss' the Hare. Charlie is often cunning, or is portrayed as such. 'Puss' is much more so, and yet does not have that destructive tendancy of Charlie when he gets in with fowl. Puss has far more tricks up her sleeve than Charlie, and is yet far smaller and more open by nature.
C S Pickles

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My nomination is the garden shed.