Country Life Illustrated, Volume 3, January 8th 1898 Mr. and Mrs. Hood Wright's (Selwood) Dogs at Frome
Mr. and Mrs. Hood Wright's Dogs at Frome.
PARK HILL, the quaint old-fashioned residence of Mr. Hood Wright, is near the old town of Frome, or Frome Selwood, as it is called in the old deeds, and is situated in North Somerset, on the borders of Wiltshire. Flat-fronted, with primitive windows, Park Hill presents no architectural beauties; but once inside, its bleak exterior gives place to the perfection of comfort and early English warmth. The town of Frome is celebrated for its parish church, and is near Longleat, the seat of the Marquess of Bath, Maiden Bradley, the estate of the Duke of Somerset, and Marston, belonging to the Earl of Cork and Orrery, and at one time was part of Selwood Forest. It is certainly situated in the loveliest bit of Somerset, and is an ideal training ground for the favourite of kings and queens, the dog of the chase, of history, legend, poetry, art—the handsome Deerhound.
"St. Bernard," the cultivated writer and essayist on the dog, who contributed a charming series of papers to Good Words last year, entitled "Notable Dogs of the Chase," gives the information that " both" Her Majesty and the Prince Consort greatly admired them, and possessed some noble specimens of the breed so characteristic of the " true and tender North which they loved so well"; and nothing finer by way of description of the variety has ever been written than the noble word portrait given by "St. Bernard" in the same pages. "Deep chested," he says, "but fine in the loins, where the body is simply bands and knots of muscle, it has straight, strong-boned, flat-sided legs that end in sound, close-set feet with well 'knuckled-up' toes. The deep, flat neck, immensely muscular, springs from between the shoulders on a fine arch. The long, lean head has a high-bred look, and the way in which the Deerhound carries it, looking well up, gives it an aristocratic and commanding appearance; while its eyes, dark brown or hazel, should be brilliant, and with an expression of peculiar intelligence and keenness, heightened by the locks through which, half concealed, they gaze.
Though the face and body are covered with harsh and rather shaggy hair, the legs should be short-haired and the ears as soft as velvet and turning over at the tips. The colour varies from sandy and light grey to dark brindle, and a perfect hound should stand not less than 30in. at the shoulder, with a rather greater girth of chest." The Deerhound, as everybody knows, was a very favourite subject with Landseer, and in his masterpieces representing Highland scenes many noble specimens of the breed have become immortal. Deerhounds are the principal dogs at the Selwood kennels to-day, and small wonder that Mr. Hood Wright should have consistently kept to the breed which his mother introduced thirty years ago. For she it was who procured a handsome biich at Caithness from Apple-cross as a present for her son. This gift was subsequently followed by another of the famous McNeill strain from Dr. Cox, of Manchester, and it is from these two gifts that all the Deerhounds bred by Mr. Hood Wright are descended.
Out of many successes in breeding, one of the most noteworthy was Champion Old Bevis (K.C.S.B., 4,753), the celebrated dog that was selected by the late C. Barton Barber for a model of Gelert for his picture entitled " The Celebrated Welsh Legend." This notable work was the painting which obtained the prize of £60 offered at the W elsh National Festival, and was subsequently exhibited at the Royal Academy, where it became one of the pictures of the season. It was purchased by Mr. Palmer, of Reading, for presentation to the Reading Institute, and is now one of the public favourites in the new picture gallery. Mr. Hood Wright tells me that it is a living, breathing likeness of Bevis, one of the finest hounds of that date. In colour he was a red-brown brindle and he stood 2gin., and was a son of Oscar, a son of Pirate, who was brother to Champion Old Torrum out of Loyal, whose grandsire and grandam were both " McNeill."
Bury, the dam of Old Bevis, was bred direct from Sir John McNeill's strain, in fact, from a brace of hounds given by him to Mr. Potter, and the McNeill strain, as we all know, is the root of Deerhound genealogy to-day, and a strain that has never been improved upon, for, as Mr. Hood Wright observes in a chapter which appeared in "Pillars of the Stud Book," a monthly feature of the Kennel Gazette: "I do not know that we can congratulate ourselves on any great improvement in the Deerhound, as breeders of so many other kinds can, for the Deerhound was a finished breed long before the present generation saw the light, and when the writer first owned one of the Apple-cross strain, over thirty years ago, there were as grand specimens then as there are to-day. All roads lead to Rome, and all the cracks of the present day go back to the strains of McNeill of Colonsay, Cameron of Lochiel, Cole of Windsor (keeper to H.R.H. Prince Albert), McKenzie of Apple-cross, the Marquess of Bristol, and the Duke of Sutherland. . . . Sir John McNeill's Oscar in best running condition weighed 94.1b. A good weight that for a dog of to-day in hard condition. Black Bran stood 31m., but measured 33A01. round the chest. What Deerhound measures that to-day?" Champion Old Bevis subsequently became a favourite of the footlights,
for Mr. Rawdon Lee gives the information in " Modern Dogs": "So sober and sedate, that in his declining years he took to the stage, and appeared with great success at one or two of the Sheffield pantomimes at Christmas." Other celebrities in Deerhounds bred by Mr. Hood Wright are Shiela (K.C.S.B., 7,^X7), Reay, Champion Bura, W anda (the bitch with an unbeaten record that was exported to America), Buscar (K.C.S.B., 18,3*5), a grandson of Old Bevis and a son ol Shiela, equally famous as a prize-winner, while most of the latterday winners are his descendants. Following these in quick succession come Selwood Crofter, Clansman, Newton Spey, Nois, Selwood Roy, Selwood Morven, Selwood Fealer, and Selwood Callack.
Selwood Dhoukan, the king of the kennels at Frome, is a very big hound, for he stands close upon 32m. at shoulder and weighs over 951b. In coat and colour he throws back to Robin Cray, the handsome dog that breeders credit with correcting the light eye, silky coat, and bluey nose that had been creeping into the breed through the Russian Siberian cross. Selwood Dhouran is full of character, and stands on the best of legs and feet. He has a grand record of prizes—seventy, not including specials and championships—and at Cruft's he was placed reserve for Sir Humphrey de Trafford's 10-guinea gold medal, being beaten only by his old kennel comrade Champion Selwood Morven, who is so like him that it is difficult to distinguish them apart. Selwood Dhouran is by Swift out of Selwood Moray, by Champion Robin Cray. As a stud dog there are few excelling I )houran, for his offspring are turning out well; and this can scarcely be remarkable considering that he himself is a direct descendant of no fewer than ten champions.
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- able trials arranged by the Kennel Club place on the race-course that adjoined. His dog Hector Second won a first prize, description of his performance is given in "Modern Dogs." Hector Second was a wel (OCR scan and text scan bad at this point).. and had previously done good work at Warwick two years before his success at the Alexandra Palace. Mr. Hood Wright's knowledge of the breed, too, is recognised in the fact of his frequent appointment at Kennel Club shows to award the prizes in Bloodhound classes. Great Danes have also acquired his regard, for he was one of the earliest to encourage their importation, and to-day he is secretary of the Great Dane Club.
The Selwood kennel has turned out many a good Dane bred within its walls, and many exhibition celebrities have sojourned for a time at Frome. The present distinguished occupant of that breed is Selwood Dansher, a dog that his owner bought'last September from Mr. G. Alberti, the renowned Belgian breeder, and since his arrival Dansher as won first novice, first limit, at the Birmingham National Dog Show; first novice, second limit, third open, at Earl's Court; third limit, third open, Cruft's; first limit, second open, Leicester. In colour he is a handsome tiger brindle, full of Great Dane character and movement, and quite a chum of his master. Mr. Leadbetter, a judge of, and perhaps the greatest authority on, the breed in England, speaking of Dansher in the Kennell Gazette, describes him as follows: "A nice orange brindle, shown in capital form, with good legs and feet. He is a good shaped hound and carries his tail well; his head is a trifle wide across the skull, but not a bad type."
In the same kennel there are the dogs owned by Mrs. Hood Wright, whose tastes run in harmony with those of her husband. The Borzoi Selwood Cossack is under two years, stands the immense size of 32m., and is fast furnishing into a representative hound of good quality. Last year at the Botanic Gardens he began his career by winning the puppy cup, and at Birmingham he won third open, and third novice at Cruft's. This year he was awarded second novice by Her Grace of Newcastle, and at Cheltenham and Leicester Cossack scored second and first prizes. He is in good coat, which is almost whole white, though faint lemon markings are at times discernible. Cossack was bred by Mr--. Mood Wright from Champion Windle Courtier and Selwood Stelka, the latter a gift from the Hon. Colonel Wellesley to herself. Stelka was bred from that sensational dog, Champion Krilutt, a dog responsible, perhaps, for the popularity of the breed amongst English women, for upon his appearance in ring at the Alexandra Palace in 1889 he created quite a fui of admiration, and from that date the Borzoi has steai ingratiated himself in women's favour. Stelka was bred Mrs. Barthrop, and is a most amiable creature, whose main i is hunting the Selwood cats; and the way in which she vanis round corners and scales walls at the sight of a " piece of fi quite bewilders the uninitiated visitor who chances to see exploit for the first time. Stelka and Cossack invariably acci pany their mistress out driving, and follow the trap with t and grace. I expect a very great advance of the breed this ) at Selwood, for Mr. Hood Wright has recently taken up himself the duties of secretary to the Borzoi Club, and he never lacks enthusiasm or industry once he makes up his mind to his best for a breed.
Mrs. Hood Wright is a staunch supporter of the Ladies Kennel Association, of which she is proud of being a vice-president It will not be out of place in concluding my notes on the Selwood kennel to say that, considering Mr. Hood Wright has owned and exhibited dogs for close upon thirty years, it is little wonder that his kennel contains only the best-bred dogs, and that himself is a well-known figure of popular importance in kennel world. It is also matter for congratulation that in a world where unfortunately jealousy grows redundantly Mr. H Wright has made no enemies and many friends. It can be said truthfully of the "Frome Infant," as his friends have naturedly dubbed him, that his popularity is well deserved, no man ever heard him say an ill-natured word of any exhibit nor has he ever been suspected of a mean action in his numeious doggy transactions both in and out of the ring. His unusual height of nearly 7ft., with a proportionate width of chest, accounting for the humour of his sobriquet, and makes him at all the noticeable figure at every show. He is an equal favourite with men and women, and to him is invariably given at every "do luncheon or dinner" the office to propose the toast of the occasion —"The Ladies, God bless them." He is a true sportsman, generous exhibitor, a fair judge, and a conscientious secretary of the dog clubs to which he is allied. A. S. K.