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Rigg oil painting


It is a well-documented story that the spaniels we now know as Clumbers originated from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. These dogs were then bred for hunting and working by the Duke’s gamekeeper, William Mansell, presumably by selecting the best working specimens to breed a dog fit for purpose. The earliest description found of the Clumber dates from 1861, by John Meyrick, who describes the dog as “the largest variety of Spaniel, weighing sometimes as much as 30lbs”, – substantially smaller than the Clumbers we see today!

Earliest pictures of these original Clumber Spaniels can be seen in the painting by Francis Wheatley of 1788, which now hangs at Clumber Park, showing the second Duke out hunting with his dogs.   It is our policy to breed Clumbers that are close in form and function  to these original dogs.

The Duke then shared dogs from his kennels with his neighbours at the country seats in the Dukeries at Welbeck, Portland, Thoresby and Osberton Hall. Francis John Savile Foljambe of Osberton Hall near Worksop then became well known for his Clumbers, notably Beau “pillar of the stud” and the prize winning Nabob in 1872.  The Clumber spaniel was officially recognised as a breed in 1879

Royal connections

Clumber Spaniels have been favoured by royalty being kept and bred by Prince Albert, King Edward VII, King George V and more recently HRH Princess Anne the Princess Royal.

Show vs working

Cruft’s evolved from being a purely terrier show to exhibiting all dogs in 1891 with Clumbers being included. An advertisement for Mr James Thorpe Hinck’s stud dogs ‘Friar Trounce’ and ‘Friar Bob’ claim them to be both “well broken and

excellent workers”. Friar Bob being a direct descendant (6th generation) of Nabob of 1872.

In the early 1900s Clumbers were worked and shown, and kennels such as Beechgrove, Heathmynd and Hempstead produced dogs that won in the show ring and would work in the field. The first Field Trials were held in 1899 and Clumbers were well represented in this sport.

During the Second World War the breeding of Clumber Spaniels was rare and was only kept going by the show dog fraternity – the dogs being bred against a breed standard for conformation rather than any working ability. The breed standard was now calling for much heavier dogs than the original Duke of Newcastle’s spaniels, and the breed became slower such that their reputation as a working dog suffered and they became known as a slow and plodding dog, not for the serious working enthusiast, and cockers and springers took over as the ssion spaniels of choice for working in the field.

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