Page 54 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 54

                Mrs. Joy Freer, sixty years in Sussex Spaniels at her famous Fourclovers Kennel, seen at home with her husband Jack, and left Mrs. Faith Gilham of the Topjoys Sussex. Mrs. Freer giving her valued opinion on a Sussex Spaniel. Photo Courtesy of The Sussex Spaniel, by Peggy Grayson.
Before the formation of the Kennel Club and the exhibition of purebred dogs, the Sussex Spaniel was already a recognizable breed. Like the Clumber Spaniel, the breed was named for the place where it originated. As Grayson notes, the Sussex was given its name “because a number of landowners in that county developed, bred and perfected a type of Spaniel capable of working heavy clay soil and the dense undergrowth through a long day without tiring.” One of these landowners hailed from an old and wealthy family. (Grayson’s research into human pedigrees is managed with the same level of detail as that of the Spaniels.) However, the connection of Augustus Elliot Fuller Esq. of Rose Hill, Brightling, Sussex, to the breed is “either incorrect or misleading,” according to the author. Although he kept Spaniels, he did so for his own shooting pleasure. His immortality as it relates to the Sussex Spaniel is largely the cre- ation of widely-read dog writers, including Stonehenge. Following Mr. Fuller’s death in 1857, the very best working Sussex were largely referred to as “Fuller’s strain from Rose Hill.”
Interest in the Sussex Spaniel waivered after Fuller’s death, only to be revived with the advent of conformation shows. The breed found support among several sporting men with a general interest in Spaniels. “One of the first men to bring out a ‘Sussex’ spaniel in the early 1870s was Phineas Bullock, who kept the Bull’s Head Tavern at Bilston in Staffordshire,” Grayson writes. Other early supporters include Dr. H. B. Spurgin, Mr. T. Burgess, Mr. T. B. Bowers, Dr. J.A. Salter, and Mr. Moses Wooland whose dogs were all said to be of the “old Rose Hill type.” Another fancier of the day was Mr. T. Jacobs, whom the author describes as “self-opinionated” and “the man who was to alter the Sussex Spaniel to suit his idea of the breed, as he did with the Field Spaniel...” As was the cus- tom at the time, Mr. Jacobs cross-bred various Spaniels, producing both Fields and Sussex in the same litters. As Grayson describes the practice, “If they were liver they were registered as Sussex; if they were any other colour and over 25lbs they were Fields; if they were under 25lb they were Cockers.” She goes on to note, “The number of black, liver and tan, black and tan and even coloured puppies
born in litters from which liver puppies were registered, shown and bred from as Sussex, is many.”
“The line that has most to do with the breed from 1880 onwards relates to the kennel of the name Rosehill owned by Mr. Campbell Newington of Ticehurst in East Sussex,” reports Grayson. “Camp- bell Newington was a great sportsman, landowner and breeder of pedigree animals: his herd of Sussex cattle was world famous.” This gentleman and his wife lived in a large house called Oakover where his famous Rosehill Spaniel Kennel was founded. His Sussex were genuine dual-purpose dogs and proved a welcome relief from Mr. Jacob’s exceedingly long and low Spaniels. As Grayson notes, “From the start of the new Rosehill line to the end of the 1890s, a very commendable breeding programme had been undertaken in order to stabilise a type, although the dogs used to do this had very mixed ancestry.” Nevertheless, the raw material was there to be utilized by several clever breeders to come.
“The period up to the First World a bleak one for the Sussex breed,” writes Grayson. Only Mr. Newington and Mr. J.E. Kerr of Dollar in Scotland maintained an interest in breeding, showing, and working the Sussex Spaniel. Mr. J. Ernest Kerr lived in Harviestoun Castle in Clackmannanshire where he bred prize- winning Clydesdales, Aberdeen Angus cattle and Border Leicester sheep among other livestock breeds. His support allowed the Sus- sex Spaniel to continue through some very lean years. As Grayson points out, “The breeding programme at Harviestoun was exten- sive, and several bitches of unknown breeding were used to widen the very constricted Sussex lines.” (It should be noted that it was possible to breed Spaniels of unknown parentage right up to the 1930s.) However, despite their success in the field and in the show ring—or perhaps because of it—Mr. Kerr and Mr. Newington were largely unable to develop interest in the breed among the sporting fraternity of the day.
“With the end of the First World War, interest in Sussex Span- iels was rekindled,” Grayson reports. “The breed had been fortunate to have attracted over the years men of wealth to keep it going, >

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