History Spotlight: BRYNLYTHE

Mabel Shirley Ellis Jones grew up in Kingston upon Hull and her career was as a domestic science teacher. She married Edward John Ellis Jones, a farmer, and they set up home at New Buildings Farm, Shropshire. They have two sons.

Originally they showed chihuahuas, for a comparatively short period of time before embarking on creating a kennel of ETTs under the Brynlythe affix.

In January 1978 from Petronelle Kitson they purchased the dog, Quinoa Old Holborn, (Ch Quinoa Dickory x Ch Pipe Dream of Quinoa). He became their first champion and the sire of 5 champions.

Around the same period they purchased the bitch, Limpsfield Evensong which whelped them 4 champions ( 2 by Ch Quinoa Old Holborn and 2 by the prepotent powerhouse Ch Richburn Man of Kent of Benhelmstone).

It would take up veritable reams to go through their whole breeding programme, so regrettably I’ll have to truncate it to saying the kennel champions stands at 18 in number, which stood as a record until overtaken by the Witchstone kennel, currently on 32 champions.

Living on a large farm meant the Ellis Jones’s could undertake an ambitious breeding programme. At the height of their activities, I would guesstimate the kennel had nigh on 50 ETTs. Most other people had around half a dozen or so, if that. There were people, I’m sorry to say, who thought this number outrageous, but it has to be said that the dogs lived a fabulous free range, organic existence, sleeping In an enormous haystack where they dug themselves in burrows. Believe me, you have seen nothing until you have witnessed a whole tribe of ETTs flinging themselves off strategic points on a haystack, like Lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff edge!

I recall my visit there, taking Di Johnson along for company. We had to drive down a VERY long farm track to reach the house. ETTs were popping up from everywhere to see us. We’d never seen anything so uniquely different in animal husbandry.
Undoubtedly head and shoulders above all of their stock must stand Ch Brynlythe Tannia.
Tannia won CCs the moment she hit the show ring amassing a total of 27, only 8 short of the all time record holder, Mrs Boyd’s Ch Lancer of Leospride, a dog which dominated the late 60s early 70s shows. She easily surpassed Ch Quinoa Cold Comfort’s then newly acquired record tally for bitches of 19 CCs, which herself had nudged past Kitty Voce’s Ch Bordesley Bowbells on 18.

She went on to make the kennel the most successful of all time when she won Reserve Best In Show at Bath Canine Society Championship Show, an accolade she held until the meteoric rise of the Witchstone kennel, who went one better to win the first and, still, only general championship show Best In Show.
In the whelping box, rather disappointingly, she produced only a singleton puppy, Brynlythe Percy ( named after their vet!), which also won it’s title.

With regards to the breed club, Shirley was unstinting in giving her time and for many years was Club Hon. Secretary, a role to which she was 100% committed, and often having to help successfully steer the Club through some very choppy waters due to a few pesky miscreants.
Inevitably this made her unpopular in some quarters ( and we have all experienced that from time to time), but she remained undaunted in her passions for the breed and for the club.

She supported everything with gusto; breed seminars ( at which her experience as a teacher made her an excellent, coherent, speaker), club shows/general open shows, where Brynlythe often entered half a dozen dogs to help get the entry numbers up.
Sometimes there was not time for them to train youngsters as they were entered to swell the crowd.
One anecdote – at a club show they entered a puppy male Brynlythe Bertram. Throughout the class it pretty much laid on the floor and would hardly choose to walk. After the class Ted Ellis Jones said to me, ‘ He’s never been on a lead, nor to ringcraft training’. That dog stayed in my consciousness after the show because of his exquisite breed type and I then wrote out his 5 generation pedigree, which impressed me further. I phoned Ted and Shirley and asked to buy him, as I needed a touch of outcross breeding in creating my own line. Generously they said yes, charging me a peppercorn amount for him. Long story short, I made him up. Ted joked that I stole a champion right from under their noses!

I cannot think of any occasion Shirley wasn’t supportive to any new ideas for the betterment of the club. Yearbooks, Club Stand, the 2 Breed Supermatch ( of which they turned out to attend, when few ETT folk did. Although the event was hugely supported by the other breed people, Pugs).

Shirley awards CCs in 7 breeds. For many years she was Hon. Secretary of Bridgnorth & DCS, a show that drew ever larger entries during her tenure.

You would have to ask Shirley what her breeding ethos was, but I would say she was committed to breeding stock within the Standard size with good wedge heads.

Tannia, though a smidgeon oversize had a most fabulous head pattern and was extremely beautiful. She and Ch Reeberrich Katydid frequently battled it out for the bitch CC, and I believe if Katydid had not come along in the same era, that Tannia would have easily sailed past Ch Lancer of Leospride’s CC record.

We didn’t always agree what made a perfect ETT, ( Shirley was forthright in stating what would have improved Tannia’s type even further- not something most breeders would care to admit), but we were both committed to breeding better ETTs.
I recall awarding CCs to 2 Brynlythe dogs, Ch Honeydew, and CH Jeremiah. The only time I got to judge Tannia, was at Windsor championship show where I awarded the dog CC to Richard Haynes, Ch Eburacum Gold Strike. When it came to judging bitches Tannia was heavy (ish) in whelp and temporarily had lost her outline. She had to give way to the Wilson’s Joruben A Touch of Class at Amalek ( her 3rd CC & title) and settle for the reserve CC.
Personal enduring memories for me are these.

Shirley was not a lady interested in wearing make up, but for every AGM she painted her long fingernails a shade of blood red. This always fascinated me, and I would religiously ask every year, if she was intending to maul us all to death. ‘Only anyone intending to be a troublemaker’, would be her measured response.
On the same subject, she would often boast that she was still using the same lipstick she bought when she got married.
At Club shows her home made trifles were eagerly anticipated and were without equal.
She, Ted and I shared a post show obsession – Little Chef Jubilee Pancakes, which they recreated at home on my visit to them.

I’m sure Shirley will be as dedicated a Patron as she has been in all other aspects of dogdom.

By Johnny Richardson (Reeberich)

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