Page 58 - ShowSight - April 2020
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                and in 1920 yet another was at hand for the much needed revival.” The author indicates that Mr. J. Stevenson Clarke of Broadhurst Manor at Horstead Keynes in Sussex became involved with breed “purely for their working qualities.” His first Broadhurst litter, though sired by a half-Field Spaniel named Rosehill Rector, proved a solid, if atypical, foundation. Photographs in The Sussex Spaniel reveal several Broadhurst dogs with decidedly Field Spaniel-type heads. Nevertheless, Mr. Clarke’s enthusiasm for shooting over his Spaniels provided much needed exposure for the breed. In 1923, a report in The Country Gentleman describes the breed’s appearance at the Brighton Championship show: “Lovers of the beautiful Sussex Spaniels will be pleased to note that Mr. Stevenson Clarke’s wholehearted support for the breed, both in the field and on the bench, his represen- tatives running conspicuously well against Springers in the Spaniel trials.”
It is not difficult to imagine the influence that wealthy men might exert on a breed. Certainly, the Sussex Spaniel had always enjoyed support from men of means. However, the fortunes of the well-to-do are never truly insulated from the rest of the world. The fickle nature of finance and the folly of war can bring about sweeping and sudden changes. For the Sussex Spaniel to survive, an entirely new sort of preservationist would be needed. As Peggy Gray- son observes, “It is interesting to note that the dogs in the early [stud] books were mainly owned by gentlemen, then after the First World War the lady owners gradually took over, and today we see many husband-and-wife partner- ships.” Beginning in the 1940s, the fortunes of the Sussex Spaniel—and those of nearly all purebred dogs—would be increasingly entrusted to breeders of “the fairer sex.”
“A very wealthy lady from Earlswood in Surrey took up the breed in 1920; this was Mrs. Youell, who for nearly twenty years was to breed and exhibit under the Earls- wood prefix,” writes Grayson who mentions that the lady’s lines were founded on dogs and bitches “with no known breeding.” About Mrs. Youell’s Sussex the author reveals, “The Earlswood breeding plan is not clear to those who study pedigrees of the time, and it appears that Mrs. Youell bought in any successful dog, or litters from successful lines, and then muddled them all up to produce a rather mixed result.” By contrast, the Sussex of Miss Joy Schole- field (later Mrs. Freer) proceeded on a steady course toward immortality. “Miss Scholefield bought her first Sussex from Mr. Stevenson Clarke with the sole purpose of hav- ing a good Spaniel for the gun as she was a keen sports- woman, and it was only on Mr. Clarke’s insistence that the dog was so good looking that it should be exhibited that she yielded to pressure and made her first appearance in the ring,” the author explains. That dog, named Brosse, earned three challenge certificates as a two-year-old at the only shows in which he was entered. Despite having a pedi- gree with an unregistered grandam, Brosse proved a dog of unimaginable influence on the breed. As the author notes, “...without [him] it is difficult to see where the breed would have ended.”
Though the two women were contemporaries, it is not surprising to learn that Mrs. Youell and Miss Scholefield
were also fierce competitors. (How could they not be rivals with such dif- ferent approaches to breeding dogs?) “The only contact Miss Scholefield’s Fourclovers had with Mrs. Youell’s Earlswoods was when Miss Scholefield bought Treyford Jessica [in 1925] from Mrs. Sampson, who had bought her originally from her breeder, Mrs. Youell,” explains the author. “It is on Primax Judy and Treyford Jessica, and their respective matings to Ch. Brosse, that the fortunes of Fourclovers were founded.” Ch. The Sagamore of Fourclovers, Ch. Okimat of Fourclovers and Pontiac of Fourclovers are three of the kennel’s more notable stud dogs, and litter sisters Winonah of Fourclovers and Kanawah of Fourclovers two of its most successful brood bitches. Grayson notes, “It was her selection of foundation bitches that Miss Scholefield was so careful, although she had very little choice as numbers were small and many Sussex had unknown or doubtful pedigrees.”
The breeder of Fourclovers Sussex was also successful at cultivating other women who shared her interest in the breed. The Sussex Spaniels of Mrs. Bower (Agrivista), Miss M.F. Reed (Oakerland), and Miss L.N. Wigg (Hornshill) all carried the Fourclovers bloodlines, and their breeders benefitted greatly from Miss Scholefield’s support. Unfortunately, efforts to breed Sussex—and purebred dogs—came to an abrupt end for most when Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. The Second World War would prove devastating to dog breeders. The Sussex Spaniel was espe- cially vulnerable and would have disappeared entirely if not for the courage and dedication of Miss Scholefield. “Only the Fourclovers remained to fly the flag,” Grayson notes. Miss Scholefield was the only person to continue breeding Sussex Spaniels during the war. “After 1946 there were to be no rich country gentlemen with money, premises, interest and time to take over the breed, as had happened in the past, now it was up to the ordinary [wo] man to take an interest in the old breeds and get them back on the road,” the author declares.
It is extraordinary to think that a breed as old and beloved as the Sus- sex Spaniel owes its very existence to a single breeder. Despite the bombing raids, the rationing of food, gas and clothing, and no market whatsoever for puppies, Miss Scholefield (Mrs. Freer) managed quite literally to save a breed from extinction. Yet despite the many challenges, this unassuming woman was clearly determined in her quest. As Peggy Grayson records, “The Sussex has been fortunate that in every decade there have been one or two who have stayed the course for ten or more years and left their mark; notably there was Mrs. Freer, who provided a link over six decades and devoted her life to breeding the Sussex Spaniel for posterity.” Carry on, indeed!

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