Ladies of the Lake

The Ladies of the Lake

Windermere, at 12 miles long and 220 feet deep , is England’ largest natural lake , situated in  Cumbria which is bounded by the Scottish border . Windermere is one of the sixteen lakes of the National Park of the Lake District . Before the construction of the railways towards Windermere , wealthy businessmen from Lancashire built fashionable residences overlooking the lake . In 1847 the railways reached Windermere and it became a very popular holiday resort for the working class . Miss Elisabeth Ann Aglionby & Mrs Rawlinson lived in the neighbourhood of Windermere lake . Both were prominent  Mastiffs fanciers in the 1860/1870ties .

Miss Elizabeth Anne Aglionby ’14-78 was the eldest daughter of Major Francis Aglionby '77-40 of The Nunnery Kirkoswald Cumberland. Miss Aglionby inherited the estate of Rev H Matthews, of Wigton Hall Cumberland. She came to reside at Grasmere in ’63, whence she removed to Eastwaite Lodge - see at right - nr Hawkshead in ’66, where she remained eight years, and four years ago she settled at Belmont Hawkshead where she died. She was not only successful in Mastiffs, but in St Bernards too.

Miss Aglionby’s foundation bitch , Hilda , was a sister to champion Hales’ Lion . Both were bred by Mr Edwin Nichols of London . She mated Hilda to champion Field’ King which resulted in the illustrious champion Turk b 1867 . Another important brood was Una sired by Lindoe’ Druid , brother to Peveril (see below at right) . She mated Una to Turk’ brother , her own Wolf ,  giving new champion offspring , Briton & Hector b 1869 , the latter (see below at left) was owned by Mrs Rawlinson , wife of J J Rawlinson , Esq.

From Martorell of Lancashire she procured in 1867 Empress KCSB 2368 who was by his Lyme Hall dog Sultan  out of Mr Nichols’ Duchess . Champion Empress got first prizes at Crystal Palace 1872 , Nottingham 1873 & Crystal Palace champion class 1874 . She bred two litters out of Empress both sired by her Wolf ; one of the offspring was Champion who sired her litter out of Turk’ grand-daughter Hanna by Paris .In 1873 , she acquired Lottie , bred by Mr Edwin Nichols , of London , out a half sis of Una (both sired by Lindoe’s Druid) and sired by Turk’s son , Mr Nichols’ home stud Big Ben who also sired champion Taunton’s Cardinal .

The following year Miss Aglionby moved four miles north to Belmont Ambleside while her Lottie got 1st prizes at Darlington & Manchester Belle Vue ; already in 1875 she was made up . She also produced ‘ Ida ‘ sired by champion Wolsey’ brother , Mr Nichols ‘ Prince , bred by Mr Edgar Hanbury of Eastrop Grange Hightworth , Wiltshire.

Miss Anne Aglionby bred her last litter , whelped 22 02 1878 , out of ‘Ida‘ sired by champion Colonel . Their daughter Negress was acquired by Mr H. Darlington of Elm Bank~Wigan , West of Manchester . He bred Dr Turner’ foundation bitch The Lady Rowena out of Negress by champion Rajah ; later on Negress was sold to Dr Forbes Winslow who mated her to his Crown Prince which resulted in Dr Winslow’  only home bred champion , Crown Princess .

From Mannex' directory of Furness and Cartmel, 1882 ~ ‘ The church of Coniston , which is calculated to hold 200 souls , is much indebted to the munificence of the late Miss Anne Aglionby, of Wigton Hall , a lady much respected in the district, and celebrated throughout England for her breed of English Mastiffs . Her body is interred at the entrance of the church , which is under the pastoral care of the Reverend Henry Gibson ‘. From Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901 ~ ‘The convent and schools of Wigton , led by the ‘Nuns of Mercy’ , are largely indebted for their foundation to the late Miss Anne Aglionby, of Wigton Hall ‘  [note ~ earlier on she resided at Esthwaite Lodge ~Hawkshead & Belmont ~ Ambleside] .

Mrs Rawlinson of Lower Graythwaite Old Hall , Ulverston owned champion Hector , bred by Miss Aglionby . It was however her champion Countess [b. 1872 bred by James Morris of Oswestry some 150 miles southwards] who left her mark on the breed development .

James Morris purchased Countess’ dam , Old Flora , from a Mr Williams of Stroud [Gloucestershire , some hundred miles southwards from Oswestry] . MB Wynn recalls ~ ‘At the Birmingham show in 1872 appeared two very marked Mastiff bitches named Flora and her daughter Countess , exhibited by J Morris . What made these animals so marked were certain features viz. their heads were shorter, blunter and heavier than the generality of bitches of that date ; both had a profusion of loose skin about the head and throat , forming heavy wrinkles ; their ears were large and heavy , those of Countess still larger than her dam’s . Both Old Flora and Countess were extremely alike in all but colouring , for while the latter inherited the jet black ears and muzzle from her sire , Sultan , Old Flora was spoilt by light brown markings .'

Mrs Rawlinson mated her Countess to Turk’ son champion Granby which resulted in the grand headed Stanley . Vaughn Davis made a small oil painting of this dog’s head , bearing a striking likeness to Crown Prince .  Three years later she combined Countess with the stud of the day , champion The Shah and this union  produced champion The Emperor .

The least one can say is those ‘ Ladies of the Lake ‘ , Miss Aglionby & Mrs Rawlinson , had a vast influence in the most successful combination of the Victorian age, namely The Lady Rowena ex Crown Prince , which resulted in the never equalled record of six champions . Not only along ch The Emperor and Negress but also via champion Turk who’s behind three great grandparents of the ‘six champions ’ of Dr Turner of Upper Norwood .

Below - Two  pieces of art by George Earl , figuring Miss Aglionby’ Wolf           [engraving] & an unknown specimen in almost the same position , although the muzzle at the painting seems to be rather somewhat shorter , more blunt and showing heavier flews ; at right Wigton Hall , once Miss Aglionby' residence at Wigton ~ a small but neat and well-built market town , occupying a pleasant situation on the right bank of the Wiza , 40 miles north of Hawkshead and only 10 miles from Carlisle .

Champion Turk , as already noticed , was once owned by Edwin Brough [since 1874] . Turk was a big winner and sired three champions ~ Nichols’ Juno & Punch and Pemberton’ Granby ~ and grandsired ch Morris’ Countess , Nichols’ Lottie , Becker’ Ben and Banbury’ Cardinal .          His brother Wolf won only 1st prize at Manchester Belle Vue ’69 and 2nd prize at Glasgow ’72 beaten by ch Turk . Wolf sired two champion brothers Briton & Hector bred by Miss Aglionby out of  Una, Lindoe’ Druid’ daughter .

Ch Turk and his brother Wolf are both of the rather houndy breed type , great height but rather leggy weak boned animals with relatively long heads ditto muzzles . Ch Turk shows a long strong back & comparatively deep chest and loins while Wolf seems to have displayed a rather short weak back with loins somewhat tucked up ; they have both long tails , Turk having the advantage of a carriage straight downwards opposite his brother who shows a curl at the end . Turk seems to have possessed better bend of shoulder and hindlegs while Wolf shows a tad shorter muzzle and deeper flews but his ears ears are overlarge and badly carried opposite to Turk who displays a nice ear of  good size , set on high upon the skull . Turk shows full determination in his expression while Wolf gives a more softly image , not quite typical for a guard breed [Reverend Malcolm Bush Wynn mentions in his ‘History of the Mastiff’ ~ expression ‘lowering’ ] .