This was the kennel started by Lady Gardner, who lived in a house called Spencers in Maidenhead, Berkshire. She was the second wife of Ernest Gardner, who was Conservative Party Member of Parliament from 1901 to 1922. His first wife, Mary, had died in 1903 and he married Amy Inglis Laurie in 1910. She was the daughter of Lieut.-Gen. James Wimburn Laurie, C.B., D.C.L, who had homes in both London and Nova Scotia. Ernest Gardner - later knighted - was also a horticulturist and a Justice of the Peace for Berkshire. He died in 1925.
|Some of the land at Spencers|
Lady Gardner obtained her first Irish wolfhound in 1929 from Phyllis Gardner of the Coolafin kennels, who also lived in Maidenhead. Despite the name they were not related. This hound was Dermot of Coolafin, by Bournstream Simba ex Eva of Brabyns and whelped January 19th, 1929. In 1931 Lady Gardner registered the first Knightellington hound, which was a bitch, Colleen, bred by Mrs. Trousdale by Lindley Sinner ex Patricia of Lynstone and whelped August 5th, 1931.
| This picture appeared in an advertisement which read
"Knightellington's Colleen (nine months old)
by Lindley Sinner-Patricia of Lynstone.
1st Prize in Puppy Class, L.K.A., Olympia, first time shown
|At Stud: DERMOT OF COOLAFIN, sound, silver brindle, Ch.
type, perfect ears, now siring winners "
The kennel name came from the old history of Spencers. The manor of ELINGTON was held in 1086 by Ghilo de Pinkney but in the 13th century was split into two shares. In the 15th century both moieties came under the same ownership and were then called the manors of Elington and Spencers, or, later, the manor of Spencers alias Knight Elington. Ernest Gardner took it over in the latter half of the 19th century.
In 1932 four wolfhounds were transferred from Phyllis Gardner to Lady Gardner. These were Bridget of Coolafin, Cathleen of Coolafin, Maura of Coolafin and Molua of Coolafin. Then in the same year another bitch from Mrs. Trousdale; Lady Margot, by Lindley Sinner ex Margot of Clonard, wh. February 19th, 1931. Lady Margot then became Knightellington Mistress Margot, dam of the first Knightellington litter. Also registered to Lady Gardner in 1932 was O'Finn of Coolafin, d, wh. August 4th, 1932, by Bournstream Paul ex Diamhar Geal of Coolafin, br. Phyllis Gardner.
|O'Finn of Coolafin with Lady Gardner|
On May 4th, 1935 Lady Gardner bred her first litter, by Ch. Rippingdon Dan of Southwick ex Knightellington Mistress Margot, and in August 1936 she registered Knightellington Dundalk, also by Ch. Rippingdon Dan of Southwick but out of Vi-bar Diana and bred by Mrs. Barnett, wh. February 26th 1935. In October 1936 she registered three puppies, bred by Mrs. A.H. Parker on March 8th, 1936 and by Top-o-the-Morn ex Lady Ethne of Brabyns.
In November, 1936 Mistress Margot had another litter, this time by Knightellington Dundalk. These puppies were Michael, Moina, Murphy, Murrough and Murtagh. At the Kennel Club Show in 1937 they were placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th in the order they appear in the photograph below.
|Knightellington's Murrough, Murtagh, Michael and Moina|
In March 1938 Lady Gardner registered another litter by Dundalk ex Knightellington Grey Dawn [from the Top-o-the-Morn/Lady Ethne of Brabyns litter], wh. December 31st, 1937. These were Knightellington Diarmaid, b; Donough, d and Duntargley, d. In August 1938 there was a transfer to Lady Gardner of Barraston Shelagh from Capt. Hudson. In March 1939 Lady Gardner registered Knightellington Forest Fire, d; by Sulhamstead Finn ex Wood Smoke, bred by Mrs. A. Stoddart, wh. July 1st, 1938. In May 1939 Lady Gardner registered two dog puppies - Knightellington Danny Boy and Knightellington Father O'Flynn, by Knightellington Duntargley ex Knightellington King's Lady [from the first home-bred litter], wh. March 5th, 1939. This was the last wolfhound litter.
Lady Gardner was not a member of the Irish Wolfhound Society but her eldest daughter, Helen Baker, was. At that time Lady Gardner was on the Committee of The Irish Wolfhound Club, of which she later became a Vice-President.
Lady Gardner did quite a lot of showing but was particularly keen on the hounds keeping up with their hunting instinct by having them take part in coursing meetings. This was also why she started with Salukis in 1931 and they were then to take over the kennels entirely by the end of the 2nd World War. She held coursing meetings at Spencers and fired other wolfhound owners and breeders with enthusiasm for the sport. Helen Baker became a Championship Show judge of the breed, as well as taking part in the coursing meetings.
Knightellington Dundalk died in 1938 and Knightellington Michael took his place at stud. The stud fee was 8 gns. Michael won the Type Cup, the Brabyns Cup and the Reserve Challenge Certificate at the L.K.A. at less than eighteen months of age.
Knightellington Duntargley went to Mrs. Lait and became an Irish Champion.
|Mrs. Lait with Knightellington Duntargley at one of his winning shows|
Through the war advertisements for the kennels were still to be seen and some shows were attended in the early years, although in 1944 no showing was done. After the war Knightellington became one of the major Saluki kennels, taken over first by Lady Gardner's daughter, Helen Baker, and then by Helen's daughter, Rosie Baker-Lewis, who wrote a book about the kennels, entitled "The Knightellingtons a Dream", which was published in 2014, the year in which, sadly, Rosie died.
Although the Knightellington kennels were not a major influence on the Irish wolfhound breed, Lady Gardner gave a lasting legacy to it by donating five trophies to The Irish Wolfhound Club - The Lady Gardner Beaker for Best Post Graduate at WELKS Championship Show; and the Knightellington Cups for Best of Breed at the East of England Show, and for Best Novice, Best Junior, Best Dog and Best Bitch at Richmond Championship Show.
The Irish Wolfhound Club Year Book for 1955-6-7 carried an obituary:-
"The Irish Wolfhound Club lost a great friend of the Irish Wolfhound on the death of Lady Gardner. Before the last War she owned a successful kennel and she showed and ran all her hounds at the coursing trials.
"The Knightellingtons were sound and workmanlike without exaggerations and they had many triumphs both on the bench and in the field.
"Lady Gardner herself had a delightful personality and was a great help to any committee she sat on. She was, unfortunately, unable to restart a kennel of big dogs after the War, but kept on with her well-known Salukis and her prefix "Knightellington", is known to all in that breed."
September 9th, 2015