The large, white spaniel from the United Kingdom has been known as the Clumber since the late 1700s. He acquired his name from the country seat of the Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne situated in the area called the Dukeries to the north of Sherwood Forest in Nottingham. He has no relationship to Cumberland – in fact there is no Cumberland Spaniel. The breed was developed to work in the heavy undergrowth of a poorly developed country property renown not for its plentiful supply of game but rather for the sparsity of game. The grounds one claim to fame in the 1700 and 1800s would seem to have been the number of rabbits it could support, but a high population of rabbits and inappropriate vegetation meant the sought after fowl were scarce. The dog developed almost exclusively by the gamekeepers, the Mansell family, to several of the Dukes needed to be able to penetrate the thick undergrowth which sprang up after clear felling of the ancient trees for timber sales, be readily visible for as long as possible in such terrain, work silently, have an easy care coat and a biddable nature allowing him to work individually or as a team member, and retrieve game. Hence the evolution of the low set dog on sturdy legs, with a short ear for a spaniel, the short thick head, the robust body, the strong and sturdy tail which works gaily when the dog finds a scent, the glistening white coat allowing visibility and easy of care, the soft and uneffusive nature.
The Clumber, which was first called the Mansell Spaniel in honour of the gamekeepers, was an established breed by 1788 when two couple were featured in the rural painting by Francis Wheatley together with the then Duke of Newcastle and the second generation Gamekeeper Mansell involved with the spaniels of Clumber. There are earlier paintings which exist depicting the heavy white spaniel; predominantly English paintings although a few are of continental origin.
Claims that the Basset Hound was used to develop the Clumber from the Springer are baseless. Thorough study of the relevant literature reveals that this myth was inadvertently initiated in the late 1800s by Hugh Dalziel who `speculated’; the Clumber as a breed was established by 1788; the Basset arrived in England in the 1860s some years after the Clumber made his showring debut. Kinship to the St Bernard and Alpine Spaniel has not been demonstrated beyond a similarity in head shape and the like. The St Bernard is similar to the Newfoundland too! In any case the Clumber as defined today by the breed standard is an accurate portrayal of the dogs featured in that original painting of the spaniels of Clumber Park.
The Clumber did not remain hidden for very long within the walls of the Nottinghamshire park; although difficult for many people to acquire the breed was passed onto noble neighbours and cousins throughout the British Isles. By the 1830s there were several famous teams working across the kingdom and come the advent of dog shows in 1859 the breed was well recognized and enjoyed the privilege of being one of the few named at the first shows. The breed absolutely blitzed the original English field trials, a reign that only died after a number of comprehensive rule changes were implemented to ensure a speedy dog covering ground quickly would triumph. Breeders did begin to seek more lightly built Clumbers to compete but fortunately for the breed the fashion waned and the breed retained its heritage. The Clumber migrated to Canada in ==== and so to America, and again was one of the first breeds recognized when kennel clubs were established on that continent. They arrived in Australia in 1883 and soon found their way to New Zealand from the land of the Dingo. The first antipodean pair came direct from Clumber Park and were imported by S Amess. Tricksy and Rattler became the mainstay of the breed in Australasia for some twenty years, their original bloodlines being complemented by the importation of Chelmsford Chum, Dinah Sparks and later Donally’s Pride and Alveley Loo.
A little slow to establish in Australia perhaps, but by the turn of the century there was a strong show contingent established and in 1899 Ponto, a locally bred dog won the first Australasian Best in Show award at none less than the Auckland Kennel Club’s first Championship Show. Ponto was sired by Tiger who was a well performed show ring dog as well as an excellent sire both sides of the Tasman.
The first world war affected the breed right across the world as food became scarce and active hunters were called up; Australian Clumbers were no exception. It took many years for the breed to reappear in the showring and then only in New Zealand between the wars; Australian Clumbers finding favour only in the field at that time. The second world war again devastated population numbers world wide making it very difficult for Australians to even import for sometime.
In 1954 H.A. Lindsay Field imported a working brace (Monty of Monksilver and Westhyde Bee) and registered then in the name of his friend Miss Odlum for exhibition purposes. Essentially the pair were worked, their offspring were shown and worked, a second dog (Mushbrook Barney) was imported to maintain breeding lines. The Eyton Clumbers lived at Healesville in the Yarra Ranges of Victoria and were instrumental in the breed becoming re-established in Australia. A number of the Eyton pups were sold; two to the Harkaway area where Chas Wieland and Horace Spence owned one each.
Mated, this pair produce Harwood Bustle, the first Clumber owned by David Irving. She proved to be the impetus for one of the leading kennels worldwide although she was not bred from. She was soon followed by two imports from the United Kingdom’s foremost kennel of Clumbers, Brian Ghent’s Thornville prefix. Thornville Swim (later KCCCh) arrived in 1959 and created immense interest in the breed while also having the honour of being award Best Exhibit in Show at the popular Phillip Island Hospital All Breeds Championship Show at her Australian debut. Concurrently the Eytons were again the home of another litter which found its way across Victoria. Swim was mated to her new kennel mate Thornville Shipmate (later KCCCh) to produce the first Australian bred all breeds championship Best in Show winner KCCCh Erinveine Gleam who was awarded this grand honour by the late Rail Bridgford.
Now with two kennels established and the third, Bolster’s Tanybryn, breeding their first litter the breed should have been once again re-established in Australia. Unfortunately for Clumbers the 1960s in Australia was not opportune as the country attempted to find its nationhood and place on the world stage. Interest waned despite the dedication of the owners until the early 1970s when an Age journalist met the breed. A feature article appeared in that paper in the late 1960s and so a smouldering fire was kindled. Ian and Lee Forde (Dukerie, named after the area where the breed acquired its reputation) chased around Australia attempting to locate breeding stock and on the advice of David Irving contacted Rae Furness in the UK. Coincidentally Cheryl Ash (Casawynk) in Queensland also decided to import breeding stock and in 1975 introduced the dog Whaplode Donnas Dilemma of Raycroft and two bitches Maggie May of Raycroft and Frastan Sweet Lady (all of whom gained their Australian titles); the Forde’s dog Raycroft Startrex and bitch Scarsdale Sunflower arrived shortly afterwards; their second dog Topjoys Trying Times landing a little on a year later.
The Casawynks have had no more lasting effect on the breed other than to introduce Graham Dalitz to the breed. There were a number shown, the foremost would be Patterson’s Ch Casawynk Campaigner who has the honour of winning eight consecutive Royal Challenges; the dog sired one litter but none of these have bred on. The next most notable Casawynk would be Casawynk Demoiselle who was sent in whelp to New Zealand to Mrs Elliston, but yet again the line died out. From the final Ash litter came Ch Casawynk Casper sire of the second litter bred by Brennans in South Australia which produced two champions and Dornoch Phoebe Snow.
About the same time Dicks (Weltara) spent considerable funds in importing six Clumbers and their introduction should have been an asset. Many good dogs were imported including the Crufts Best of Breed winner AustEngShCh Burtonswood Best Beam. One litter seems to have been bred producing one champion; the kennel it is claimed was devastated when most of the dogs were maliciously poisoned, in any case the Weltaras after much promotion vanished from the scene.
The Forde’s Clumbers have had the lasting effect on the breed on in Australia and New Zealand. Their interest was spasmodic, the main attention always being directed towards their Newfoundlands, so much so that only Startrex was ever titled and that was while he was on lease. Their first litter, Sunflower mated to Startrex produced Ch Dukerie Astra Girl, kennel mate to Patterson’s C. Campaigner; Ch Dukerie Arhquin, owned by Kadnook Kennels still renowned to this day for their Labrador Retrievers, Lincoln was the first Clumber to claim a Royal Group award with Puppy in Group at Adelaide Royal in 1978; and of course foundation dam of the Brennan’s Dornoch kennel, Ch Dukerie Amberley, and dam of the famous Ch Dornoch Edward Bear. From the second litter Fordes bred came NZCh Dukerie Bold as Brass owned by Maree Mackenzie an all breeds international judge who had a lot of success in the showring with this boy. Also produced was Ch Dukerie Britenbreezie a lovely lady who formed the basis of the Almarney kennel owned by Maraget Stewart.
Margaret bred her first litter in 1982 with four of the five gaining their titles, the two to have an impact on Clumber through breeding on were Irving’s Ch Almarney Duke and Ch Almarney Miss Penelope; a nice result after travelling to Queensland to mate Breezie to the import Ch Whaplode Donnas Dilemma of Raycroft. Litter two, a mother to son mating between Breezie and her sire whelped in 1983, produced Graham Dalitz’ first show Clumber Ch Almarney Alden; Almarney Miss Amy exported to New Zealand who later became the dam of the Best in Show (ABKC Ch) winner NZCh Baswei Lord Sebastion; and NZCh Almarney Aldwin the first Clumber in the southern hemisphere to gain a field qualifying certificate. Of these lines the lot has fallen to A.Alden to breed on more than one generation. Litter three, whelped 1986 did not reach maturity; and that was the end of the Almarney prefix despite the fact that Margaret imported Raycroft Sweet William and then for a short while campaigned Bowhouse Storyteller as recently as 1995.
The third and final litter bred under the Dukerie prefix yielded NZCh Dukerie Capernica the sole representative of a litter of five whelped in 1982 to breed on. Kelly produced the M litter for the Dupe’s Baswei prefix, among a number of champions was AustCh Miss Muffet of Baswei who joined the Erinveine kennel.
While the breed was been established with the supply of new stock a young dog from South Australia was doing all in his power, and even more, to put the breed on the map. Dornoch Edward Bear had a perilous and inauspicious start to life and was deemed lucky to survive, and it was as well for the breed that he did. Born November 1981 he had considerable Group level and even Show level success from as young as baby puppy age; but his real quality became evident even to his detractors as he reached maturity at three to four years when he really stole the march on many interbreed competitors. His massive list of wins include Best in Group at Sydney Royal, certainly his crowning glory, but this was not fluke win. His other wins including Runner Up in Show at the South Australian Gundog Championship Show, Best Exhibit awards, several Royal challenges and Best of Breeds in the south eastern corner of Australia and a triumph equal to his Royal Best in Group when Rae Furness awarded him Best of Breed from a then Australasian breed record entry of fourteen. Ted had only the one opportunity to breed and produced a single but an interbreed winner and champion with Ch Dornoch Pollywaffle. Tragically Polly produced one litter of which none survived and subsequently was unable to breed again, she now enjoys retirement travelling with her family. There can be no doubt that Ted will be recalled with admiration for many years to come despite his death just a little while ago.
As Ted came to the fore AustCh Raycroft Sweet William was imported, yet another dog not bred from, he was the pride and joy of Almarney and much rested on his shoulders for that kennel. He certainly cranked up a credible show record despite not having the opportunity to leave his genetic print behind. He was immediately preceded by AustCh Miss Muffet of Baswei who performed well in the showring and produced the Erinveine M litter including Erinveine Merit who deserves mention as the dam of Ch Erinveine Regal. The third Clumber imported in this triad in the later part of the 1980s was Irving’s AustCh Leybel Lleyse (UK). Lleyse won Group and Runner Up awards at major Melbourne metropolitan shows and produced nine champions from her two litters; the three most prominent and successful being her sons Ch Erinveine Nonetheless, Ch Erinveine Privilege (an all breeds Best in Show winner) and daughter Ch Erinveine Pageant. Pageant is undoubtedly the best bitch to grace the Clumber ring for all time in Australia with a heady string of top pointed challenges. All three of these dogs have bred on well. From Lleyse’s first litter also came Erinveine Notable who when mated to Miss Muffet’s daughter Ch Erinveine Marchioness, herself Runner Up in Show under an international judge, gave the multi all breeds Best in Show winner Ch Shonaway Duke o Monmouth, a gem to own as he has won these awards in a number of states. Sherman is well known throughout the eastern states and acquits himself well in breed competition too. He was the foundation dog of Klumbaland kennels and also the sire of the first Tasmanian litter in some one hundred years when he produced the Fell Farm puppies in 1994. Lleyse has also provided the opportunity for the establishment of the Bowhouse kennels in Western Australia, the Dale-End kennel in New South Wales, the Cardinal kennel in New Zealand, the Shonaways also in New South Wales, and others.
Australia was most fortunate to acquire EngShCh Raycroft Society Girl, not just a Raycroft, but the dam of the Crufts Best in Show winner EngShIrShCh Raycroft Socialite and several other very well performed Clumbers right across the world. She was imported by Graham Dalitz associated with Clumbers for many years and now thoroughly entrenched. Girlie produced Graham’s first litter which he bred under the Grashez prefix. The star of the litter is Steven Durrington’s first Clumber Ch Grashez Society Rogue a very successful show dog who was awarded Runner Up in Group by Rae Furness. From Graham’s second litter (achieved with chilled semen from the New Zealand dog NZCh Raycroft Swashbuckler at Bruisyard) to Ch Grashez Society Rose come two stars in Monk’s Grashez Society Beau who has won consistently including Best in Group under Peggy Grayson, and Ch Grashez Sweet Society who was Puppy in Group at Brisbane Royal; these lines have yet to combine with those established in the south so Australia still boasts considerable breeding ability without overseas blood being required urgently.
Currently there can be no dispute as to the fame of Western Australia’s Ch Erinveine Regal. He is the winner of six Best in Show awards, over twenty Championship Best Exhibit in Group awards, and the coveted Best of Winners Competition conducted by the Western Australia Kennel Club. Dillion has surpassed anyone’s dream of success and his first litter has produced many good winners and champion progeny. His winning is not state bound with Best of Breed at Melbourne Royal and Runner Up under Peggy Grayson when she judged in Victoria, he has also claimed Runner Up in Group at a 1400 dog Melbourne Championship show. Definitely living up to his name, despite the odds of judges ignoring a rarer breed.
In 1995 the breed again established a milestone in its history with the Victorian Gundog Club’s 50th Championship Show drawing an Australasian breed record entry of 21 for UK judge Tony Pascoe. Dog Challenge and Best of Breed was awarded to Ch Erinveine Privilege, Reserve Challenge and Runner Up to Bowhouse Storyteller, Bitch Challenge to his grandmother Ch Erinveine Pageant, Reserve Challenge to Erinveine Yes, sired by the Best of Breed winner.
Clumbers have been in Australia for over 110 years, they should need no introduction yet they are still a relatively unknown breed and it falls to the current owners to immediately redress this oversight. Interestingly most owners have owned other breeds before acquiring a Clumber; hardly surprising is the concept that once having owned a Clumber a person always seeks another. A number of Clumbers have been sold offshore, to New Zealand primarily but in recent years enquiries have been received from places such as Finland, Spain, America, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. We have excellent bloodlines in this country and exceptional specimens; the overseas judges say so regularly!.=