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Working Clumber Spaniel Society


Now including Vintage Clumber Art Section

Maintaining the Clumber Spaniel as a natural working gundog

30th Anniversary “Celebration of the Breed�

WORKING CLUMBER SPANIEL SOCIETY The progress of the Working Clumber spaniel over the last 30 years mirrors the rise in significance of its Society and both tell a remarkable story. In the introduction by driving founder member James Darley, we can see that the original passion required in the origination of the Society has inspired and fuelled the work of the breed’s energetic supporters forming today’s Working Clumber Spaniel Society. We are indebted to member Julie Nicholds for her continued hard work in gathering this material together and ensuring its preservation for future years. The result is a very interesting collection of published articles charting the rescue of the working aspect of Clumber spaniels through to their continued restoration on shooting fields across the country. Enjoy browsing through this very special archive.


In the 17 shooting seasons from 1997-98 to date (2014-15), 18 different Clumbers have won field trials. • That may not sound so very impressive, but compare it with the past, when there was only one winner in the 84 years between 1913 and 1997. That was in 1990. The point is not that this dog, Venaticus Duncan, to whom all today’s working Clumbers go back, was exceptional; but that the breed as a whole has undergone a transformational uplift in the quality of its work so that a variety of individual dogs (and a couple of bitches), with all the vagaries of breeding, opportunity and handler skill, have attained the demanding standard needed to take a first in a field trial.

Leave aside that minority breed field trials set the bar somewhat lower than any variety spaniel trials. The rules are the same for handlers and for judges. And as one highly regarded spaniel man said to me at a trial last season: “They still need winning.�

The catalyst for this change has undoubtedly been the Working Clumber Spaniel Society. There should be no place for it. And I say that as one of its co-founders and the main architect of its positioning and policy. The society was born in strife. It was not a case of a few happy and dedicated Clumber owners getting together to share their interest in working their dogs. It gave them that chance, but they felt compelled to distance themselves from that club and to achieve something quite different from it. The Clumber Spaniel Club had become entirely dedicated, in practice if not in principle, to the showing of Clumbers. It was therefore supervising the contraction of breed interest, and breed development, to a Clumber that was good really for only one thing: being seen in a show ring.

That artificial environment is not a place in which to safeguard the health and the future of the Clumber spaniel. Without the influence of the needs of working, even of pet owners, to inhibit the concentration on show points, exaggeration of the breed is inevitable. You can argue this is not so, but whatever the breed (or indeed the animal), showing causes exaggeration.

The like-minded founder members of the WCSS were people with a very different vision. I had written a mission statement, sent it to those I could interest, and an inaugural meeting was held in a village hall in Avon in September 1984. The objects enshrined then are unchanged today. In the 30 years since, the society has grown – in numbers, in stature, in influence. In fact it began to make its mark from the very first. It started as a means of giving a collective voice to those interested in the breed other than as an ornament, with its health and working characteristics in decline. The fact that no fewer than 70 members subscribed from the outset made something clear: there was a large body of interest and opinion not represented by the UK breed club.

Virtually without exception, during the preceding decade no one was breeding Clumbers for anything other than to show. If, like me in 1975, you wanted a Clumber as a working gundog, you got one from more or less solid show breeding over several generations.

Interest in working Clumbers was not enormous in the mid-1980s, but it had never died. Problem was, all the stock had to come from breeders who were not selecting for working traits. So the quality of the work was lower – unquestionably – than from a purpose-bred animal. Poor work, poor health: it was a cycle that spelled decline. Yet, because breeders of what were show-bred animals sold dogs to working homes, some of them had working lives. So what did breeders say to prospective working owners? “Yes, of course my dogs work. All Clumbers will work. A ‘working Clumber’? There’s no such thing.” At best this was self-delusion. The succeeding ten or so generations of working Clumbers have given the lie to that sort of talk. Of course, 20, 40 generations will do so even better.

In the next nine years, enrolments exceeded 350. These were not breeders, but ordinary owners. Though mostly not interested in disputes with other Clumber opinion or with the Kennel Club, these individuals – for the good of the breed they admired – submitted themselves to strict rules and common objectives. Because they agreed with them.

Key to the society’s rapid influence was its communications programme (which received a Sword of Excellence award from the Institute of Public Relations in 1991). Put simply, it changed public perceptions of the breed. We had found we could not change the supply side – the policies and practices of the main – show – breeders. But by a process of creating awareness and educating the sporting and general public about the issues affecting the breed, we shaped the demand side. The society was a rejection of what the breed club stood for. The breed club, in turn, found it necessary to try to persuade the Kennel Club to reject the society’s bid to become an accredited organisation. This was an attempt to smother it at birth. How near it came to success I do not know. I do know it took us 18 months to get recognition. Just as well, as we let it be known we would go to law to get it.

Taking a view that it was working requirements that would save the breed, the society as its champion had to be tough in the early days.

Owners of working Clumbers today, be they members or not, have much to thank the society for.

James Darley December 2014

Vintage Clumber Art Compiled by Chelsea Parten

Chelsea has a massive collection of clumber art images and has kindly shared a few with us for this archive ‌.

From the Clumber Archives ‌..

Chelsea Parten, a WCSS Member from the USA has been rummaging through the archives and found some amazing old articles from Country Life Illustrated. Many thanks to Chelsea for her enthusiasm for this wonderful breed

Country Life Illustrated 7th May 1898

Country Life Illustrated 11th December 1897

Country Life Illustrated 22nd January 1898

Working type dogs of the 1930s. Dochfour George (centre) was handled in field trials by the well-known Jim Wylie.

1937 Clumber Spaniel “Ros� Owner Orsen Wright , Leicestershire

Royal Clumbers at Windsor


Shooting Times James Darley letter published in full July 85

An early competitive event of the Society on live game, held in 1985 at Aldeburgh, Suffolk,

1980’s cont’d ….

Countryside Monthly, March 1985

Shooting Times of July 1985.

The 1990’s

The Field January 1991

More from Chelsea Parten

"The most handsomest animal this kingdom ever produced" The Modern Clumber 1865.

Country Life January 1991

Shooting Times December 1997

1997 & 98

Shooting Times December 1997

Kennel Club Gazette Dec 1998

Kennel Club Gazette December 1998

Kennel Club Gazette December 1998

Kennel Club Gazette December 1998

Kennel Club Gazette December 1998


Shooting Gazette 1998

Dale Park Sussex

New Millennium 2000 onwards The Field February 2002

Shooting Times June 2001

Shooting Times December 2000

Country Life February 2000

Country Life February 2000

Shooting Times December 2000

Shooting Times November 2001

Shooting Times May 2001

Rackenford Devon 2002

The Field February 2002

The Field February 2002


Night & Day December 2002

Dog World 2002

Shooting Times July 2003


Kennel Club Gazette January 2003

Shooting Gazette December 2003

Shooting Times January 2003

Shooting Times December 2003 Shooting Gazette September 2003

April 2003

The Field July 2003

Shooting Gazette March 2003

Sissinghurst, Kent December 2003

Countryman’s Weekly March 2003

Country Life January 2004


Kennel Club Gazette June 2004

Shooting Times February 04

Shooting Gazette Sept 04

Kennel Club Gazette June 2004

Country Landowner July 04

Shooting Gazette April 2004

Swedish Publications December 2004


Our Dogs February 2005

Shooting Times October 2005

Shooting Times October 2005

Shooting Times October 2005

Countryman’s Weekly October 2005

Shooting Times October 2005


Shooting Times January 2006

Irish Countrysports & Country Life Summer 2006


Shooting Times July 2007

Shooting Times October 2007

Shooting Times December 2007

Irish Country Life 2007


Shooting Gazette December 2008

“The dogs were ideally suited to hunting the rhododendron thickets and heather covered heaths on Royal Estates�


Shooting Times 2009

Countryman’s Weekly June 2009

Shooting Gazette September 2010

Shooting Times April 2010


Shooting Times April 2010




Shooting Times March 2013

Shooting Times March 2013

Sporting Gun April 2013

Shooting Times April 2013

Shooting Times May 2013

Shooting Gazette April 2013

Sporting Shooter May 2013

Shooting Times December 2013

Shooting Times December 2013


Shooting Times July 2014

Countrymans Weekly May 2014

Shooting Times August 2014

National Gamekeepers Organisation Magazine : Autumn 2014

Shooting Gazette September 2014

Country Life October 2014

“They are steady, reliable, stoical, great hearted and highly intelligent dogs”

Working Clumber Spaniel 2015 Calendar Produced from photographs of the clumbers owned by members of the Working Clumber Spaniels UK Facebook Page.

Funds were split equally between the WCSS and Dog Lost

The Future …. ………..Social Media


Shooting Times January 2015

The Field January 2015

March 2015 : Re-launch of Society Website

Shooting Time June 2015

Shooting Time 29th July 2015

Re Clare Farm Shoot, Oxfordshire

Shooting Time 29th July 2015

Shooting Times 12th August 2015

Shooting Times 19th August 2015

Shooting Times 26th August 2015

Shooting Times 30th Sept 2015

The Field October 2015

Shooting Times 14th October 2015

Shooting Times 21st October 2015

The Field November 2015

Shooting Times 4.11.15

Shooting Times 30.12.15

Shooting Times 30.12.15

2016 Shooting Times 24.2.16

Shooting Times 23.3.16

Sporting Gun April 2016

Fieldsports Magazine April 2016

Breaking Cover 2016 Courtesy of James Darley

The Field

Shooting Times 9.11.16



Shooting Times March 2017 Shooting Times 26th April 2017

Working Clumber Spaniel Society ARCHIVE  

The progress of the Working Clumber spaniel over the last 30 years mirrors the rise in significance of its Society and both tell a remarkabl...

Working Clumber Spaniel Society ARCHIVE  

The progress of the Working Clumber spaniel over the last 30 years mirrors the rise in significance of its Society and both tell a remarkabl...