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History of Windsor Championship Dog Show Print
For very many years Windsor has been known as the Ascot of Dog Shows, the summer “Crufts” in the opinion of many exhibitors.   Situated in the green parkland of Home Park, Windsor, under the ramparts of the Castle and with the River Thames as a boundary it is one of the loveliest dog show venues in the UK.   Indeed Windsor Show is unique as, for all of its greater than half a century of existence, it still takes place on the same ground as its very first show in 1951.

Windsor Town, with its many attractions, is within walking distance of the showground which makes it very popular with those exhibitors who caravan the summer circuit of shows.   Being at the height of the holiday season in one of the UK’s most popular tourist areas brings its problems for Windsor.   But the proximity of the show to London and Heathrow ensures that many tourists from home and overseas visit every year.   Uniquely, Windsor has an Overseas Visitors Hospitality tent to give a warm welcome to those who visit England to see the cream of the dog world in the best of settings.

Catherine Sutton, of the famous Rossut Kennels, in her book “Dog Shows and Show Dogs” documented the early years of Windsor Show: -
Windsor, the foundation years Print

The first Windsor Championship Show was held in 1951.   It had no connection with the Championship Show held before the war and had no assets of any sort.   Because a Championship Show had to be sponsored by an existing Society the Windsor Gundog Society acted as the parent body, but throughout their joint existence the funds of these two organisations were kept completely separate.

As Windsor Championship Show was starting from nothing, means had to be devised to raise funds and at a general meeting of interested people on 19th October 1950 three forms of membership were outlined:  Life Membership at 5 guineas (£5.25); Foundation Membership at 2 guineas (£2.10) for three years; and Annual Membership at 1 guinea (£1.05).   By this means an initial sum of £450 was raised and in the following year was added to.

The first Show in June 1951, although a tremendous canine success, was not a success financially and there was a loss of £270.   To avoid this happening the following year the committee decided to increase various charges but not the entry fee, which remained at 10s 6d (52½).

1951 Committee
Committee from the first show in 1951 Left to right - Mr Raymond Oppenheimer, Dr Esther Rickards (Secretary), Mrs. P Phillips

Mrs. Edwards, the first chairman, resigned from this office on moving away from the district in 1952.   The chairmanship was taken over by the Earl of Northesk, an office he held until his death in 1964.

The Championship Show continued to prosper and with its lovely setting in the Home Park, with Windsor Castle as a backcloth, it grew in popularity and each year many hundreds of overseas visitors came to the show.   Dr. Rickards, the secretary, had been responsible for its growth and her tireless work on its behalf was in no small measure responsible for the success of the show.

Her Majesty The Queen became the patron in 1956 and she took a great interest in the show with details of the entry being sent to her each year.

In 1962 Dr. Rickards decided that she could no longer continue as secretary.   Her reason for this was the new Kennel Club Regulation compelling show secretaries to provide the exhibit numbers in the judges’ portion of the judging book.   Dr. Rickards was invited to be a vice-president of Windsor Championship Show, a position she accepted with pleasure.   She also remained on the committee.

Catherine Sutton
Catherine Sutton


Mrs. Catherine Sutton was appointed secretary in January 1962 but stressed that she could not be responsible for the Championship Show and the Windsor Gundog Shows.   It was agreed that permission be sought from the Kennel Club for these to become quite separate with their own individual committees and officers.   Lord Northesk took this matter up with the Kennel Club and so Windsor Dog Show Society came into being with its own committee and officers.


Molly Garrish
Molly Garrish (on right)

On the death of Lord Northesk, Mrs M. C. Garrish took over as chairman with Group Captain Sutton as vice-chairman and show manager.   In 1975 Mrs. Molly Garrish resigned as chairman and at a meeting in September the vice-chairman proposed that Dr. Esther Rickards be elected chairman.   This was carried unanimously and Group Captain Sutton remained as vice-chairman.


"Beefy" Sutton

It was a sad day for Windsor and the dog world in general when Dr. Rickards died early in 1977.   She had seen Windsor Championship Show grow from a one-day to a two-day and eventually to a three-day show.



The above extract is adapted from Catherine G. Sutton’s book “Dog Shows and Show Dogs” published in 1980.   Mrs. Sutton was secretary of the Society from 1962 until 1988.

To the present day Print

Beagles in riverAlthough everybody looks on Windsor as the show on which the sun shines this is not always the case.   Some years the sun has been almost too much.   In 1957 Windsor recorded the hottest day for ten years and in 1961 it was the hottest day of the century and exhibitors and their dogs were allowed to go home at 3.30pm, remember exhibitors had to remain at shows until 4.30pm.   In those days few cars had air-conditioning and in 1974 many exhibitors headed for the river to cool their dogs down and waited until the evening before heading for home.


Windsor mudHome Park is quick to dry after rain but with the Royal Windsor Horse Show a few weeks beforehand the ground has little time to recover from the pounding of horses’ hooves and the movement of heavy horseboxes etc.   In 1963, the rains came to Windsor.   Restrictions on the movement of heavy traffic on the showground and especially across the ring areas during the set-up days are necessary to keep the ground in prime condition for the dog show.


In 1969 Windsor held their first two-day show expanding to three days in 1973 but it was not until 1984 that Windsor held the show on a Sunday for the first time.   Group Captain “Beefy” Sutton took over as Secretary in 1988 on the death of his wife and so until 1989 he remained Chairman, Secretary and Show Manager.   Mr. Stuart Chamberlain became Show Manager for the 1989 show.   At the end of 1989 Group Captain Sutton retired from the position of Secretary and Mrs. Irene Terry became Secretary a position she holds today.   On Group Captain Sutton’s death Mr. Ken Rawlings became Chairman and Terry Thorn Vice-Chairman for the 1991 show.   Terry Thorn had been Chief Steward since 1984, but outside pressures meant that he had to stand down from both positions following the 1993 show.

1988 saw another innovation at Windsor – the famous “Pink Jackets” for the committee, the first Championship Show to have such a distinctive way of identifying committee members!   These were paid for by Ken Rawlings and have over many years been taken-in and let-out again as committee members, of varying shapes and sizes, have come and gone.   The first generation saw service through to 2007 when lighter weight, but still the distinctive “Pink”, replacements were supplied by Oonagh Gore.

50th year medalionMillennium Year saw the Golden Anniversary of Windsor Championship Show and many specials were awarded, and with assistance from many Life Members and Pedigree it was possible to mount a display of memorabilia from those 50 remarkable years.
The Queen had become Patron during the tenure of Esther Rickards, the first secretary, and it was in 2000, in her seventy-fifth year, that Her Majesty relinquished her patronage, along with the patronage of many other the Societies.

The year 2000 also saw the retirement of Mr Austin Clancey who had held the position of Treasurer since 1963, John Reymond, Assistant Treasurer for a number of years filled his place.


Sir Dudley

Sir Dudley Forwood

Photo by Dave Freeman

 For many years our President was the charismatic Sir Dudley Forwood whose enthusiasm and support for Windsor was boundless, following his passing in 2001 Leonard Pagliero OBE became President in 2004 bringing, together with Vice President Terry Thorn, the same support and enthusiasm for the Society.

Oonagh Gore became Chairman and Liz Cartledge Vice-Chairman in 2002 and are ably guiding the Society through today’s ever more difficult times.   After a period considering who should be Patron the committee decided to invite The Earl of Buchan to fill this role and we were delighted when he accepted the invitation.   It is a position he relishes and is to be seen at every show supporting the society knowledgably discussing dogs with judges and visitors alike.


 2003 Committee

 The Committee in 2003, resplendent in the Windsor “Pink Jackets”

Photo by Alan Walker


2007 was a difficult year for the Society with the death of Mason Minns just days before the Show; Sally Kimber stepped in as Chief Steward at short notice with Gerald King being appointed for the 2008 show.  

Sadly 2008 saw the passing of both Leonard Pagliero and Terry Thorn, to loose three such giants of the dog world and all ardent supporters of Windsor, in such a short period was hard for the society.
The early years of the 21st Century was an era of gradual change, increasing numbers of entries, although very welcome, exacerbated a perennial problem for Windsor that of getting exhibitor’s cars off the busy commuter roads and parked quickly and efficiently into the “banana” shaped area of Home Park available for the Show.   The committee struggled with many ‘what-if’ scenarios and ultimately decided that a radical reorganization of the whole show layout was the only solution.   Masterminded by Show Manager, Gary Gray who had taken over from Stewart Chamberlain on his retirement in 2004, Windsor went 4-days in 2007.   A move that must have upset the weather “gods” as it rained!   Strangely, without the changes to the car parks, the show could well have had to be abandoned.

Windsor Championship Show has long been looked upon as the “Ascot” of dog shows, the “Summer Crufts”, and has usually been favourably looked after by “the weather god” and in 2008 he was kind enough to smile on the show a rare dry 4 days in a very wet summer.   The new showground layout, with separate car parks each end of the showground and in-out rings for every breed (even though the show requires almost enough canvas to cover two football pitches!) is well liked by all and worked even more smoothly in a warm dry summer.

What will 2009 and beyond hold for Windsor and the other Championship Shows?   It is a time of difficulties for all, not only the withdrawal of Masterfoods as a sponsor and the impact of a television programme aimed at pedigree dog breeding in general, but also the sudden and swift downturn in the economic situation for exhibitors and the country alike is undoubtedly going to have an impact.  

One thing that is certain Windsor will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2010 in the style of its reputation as “a quality show”.


The Windsor Show of today has no links the pre-WW2 show held in Home Park – presentation in 2004 of an advertisement for the 1923 Berks, Bucks and Oxon Canine Association Champ. Show.

Below left to right - Stuart Chamberlain (Show Manager); Gerry Morriss (Groundsman);
 Derek Lane (Hart & Co. Tenting Contractor); Oonagh Gore (Chairman)

Photo by J Reymond

 1923 Show