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A History of the WCSS logo

I don’t know about you but I didn’t realise that the WCSS logo was so special until I had been a member of the society for quiet a long time. When I was going through some paperwork I found that our beautiful unique logo had got distorted over time mainly due to the many changes in technology since its creation. The original was on an acetate…… So after clearing it with my fellow committee members we set about getting it restored to its former glory.

I turned to founder member James Darley to find out more about it.

The logo of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society is possibly unique among gundog societies, in that it is a detail of an old painting. It was selected in the society’s earliest days for its charm, distinctiveness and, as any owner will recognise, its accurate characterisation of the breed.

Besides, it has an importance of its own, in more than one way. The image is by perhaps the best-known dog painter of all time, Maud Earl. She was the daughter of George Earl who also specialised in animals, and was celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic over a fifty-year career. It was executed at the turn of the 19th century to the 20th, when Clumbers were arguably at the peak of their reputation in the field, by virtue of being privileged as the sporting favourites of Edward, the Prince of Wales who became the new king, and as the personal dogs of many head gamekeepers, while also dominating the earliest field trials.

The image is taken from the 1902 folio of limited edition photogravure prints reproducing the works of an exhibition, British Hounds and Gun Dogs, with 24 head studies printed in sepia, among them two of Clumbers, this one titled Surely, Surely, Slumber Is More Sweet than Toil, and a companion piece, Foresters. I bought these prints in perfect condition from a London dealer some time during the 1980s, and they have occupied a prominent position over my fireplace ever since. The two dogs portrayed are Brave of Hardwick and Ch. Rose of Hardwick, which belonged to Kathleen, the Duchess of Newcastle, wife of the 7th duke, a judge in the show ring and best known for her borzois.

The kennel name of Hardwick came from new kennels built in 1891 at Hardwick, almost a mile from the main hall at Clumber Park, to accommodate some thirty of her Russian wolfhounds, twenty Clumber spaniels, twenty-five fox terriers, and a pack of harriers, at which time there were in all about 140 dogs on the estate.

The story of the Clumber spaniels of Clumber Park had enjoyed its highest profile in the 1880s when the painter John Emms was a frequent visitor and created many of the enduring images we are familiar with now.

Maud Earl’s two portraits, while coinciding with the breed’s high point in field trials, also appeared to mark the last hurrah of the breed at its ancestral home. Before this date the duchess had been recorded in a newspaper interview of 1896 as saying the breed is “dying out”, the reporter quoting her that “at any rate they are not now able to breed them successfully at Clumber itself”. This final whimper was very obviously misplaced, the duchess being a dog show exhibitor and judge rather than a working dog owner, as Clumbers were about to prove pre-eminent in the early field trials around the turn of the century.

The original in full colour must have been painted a little earlier. It came up at a Bonhams auction in London in 2011; I went way beyond the limit I had set myself but still lost out in a bidding duel with a telephone buyer, who later proved to be a one-time Clumber owner whom I had met on a visit to her home in upper New York state: she refused to reply to me after this, no doubt thoroughly annoyed I had driven the price up so far. I had wanted to reproduce it as a facsimile print to be made available to breed enthusiasts the world over, proceeds to be shared with the animal charity she actively supported. So, while the original remains in private hands and lost to the rest of us, we nevertheless can enjoy the image in colour at small scale, and as the memorable logo of the WCSS.

By James Darley

Here is our logo restored to its former glory ready to be printed and embroidered.

Introduction and editing by Sarah Watters-Carver

History by James Darley

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