This book is the first devoted to the Clumber spaniel as a working gundog. It is a dramatic tale of the origins, development and successful revival of this distinctive 250-year-old British breed, its readoption by the royal family, its rescue from decline, and its return to the field. It is told through its colourful history and as an entertaining, affectionate but determined personal memoir.
This celebration of the breed’s restoration to its original type and purpose should not just interest admirers of Clumbers, but inspire them.
Clumber spaniels are stunningly beautiful dogs. The book illustrates some of the most notable working dogs of yesterday and today in action, and is enriched by 18th and 19th century portraits of their noble owners, with dogs, many with their teams of Clumbers, among them those of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, as well as early photographs. Several of the 80 images will never have been seen before outside the walls and halls of their stately homes or in one case the Queen’s private residence at Sandringham.
The text runs to more than 50,000 words, with an enthusiastic foreword written by Col. David Hancock, a prolific writer on the history of working dogs and accepted as the leading expert, and a letter of commendation from the Princess Royal.
The book spans the origins and changing employment of the breed over the years, in its first century possessed exclusively by the British nobility, later made more widely available and favoured by kings Edward VII and George V. Through original research over more than a decade, the book brings to light new information placing the breed in England long before the French Revolution. It concludes by offering an optimistic view of the breed’s future as a practical alternative, proven in performance and its unique characteristics, to English springer and cocker spaniels – for those not afraid to be different.
After acquiring his first Clumber as a wild adolescent in 1975, the author turned him into the breed’s top field trial dog since the 1930s. James Darley is well known in field sports circles and has led the breed’s revival from the front, exposing his own dogs to competition at an ambitious level, over 40-plus years gaining many more field trial awards with many more Clumbers than any owner in the breed’s history.
In 1984 he set up the Working Clumber Spaniel Society, now the world’s largest body dedicated to the breed. As founding secretary, his communications campaign for the breed’s rebirth as a working gundog was recognised for its exceptional effectiveness with a major award from the Institute of Public Relations. The society has enjoyed conspicuous success in its mission, and has benefited from having the Princess Royal, a working Clumber owner since 1990, as its president for more than 30 years.
Rebirth of the Royal Spaniel has been privately published as a hardback of rare quality. Two editions are available, bound in purple buckram, with identical content in 184 pages, a large page format (310 x 240 mm, c. 12 x 9 in.), and a marker ribbon. Both are really attractively designed and durably presented as beautiful possessions to give lasting pleasure. Total print run is 750, of which 125 are a numbered limited edition, signed, quarter-bound in pearl-coloured buckram, and the pages gilt edged. This collector’s edition is presented in a slip case illustrated the same as the main edition’s dust jacket. The book is available only direct from the author.
Prices are £75 plus £8.50 for UK delivery for the main edition, and £145 plus £11.50 for UK delivery for the collector's edition.
There is no one better able than the author to share his experience and dedication in what in these pages is a celebration of the return of the Clumber spaniel – HRH the Princess Royal
A masterpiece of original research … an important contribution to our knowledge of gundogs – not just the breed under review – David Hancock
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