Obituary - Miss Pamela Turle
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Miss Pamela Turle. Miss Turle was 77 and one of the old school, her death marking the end of a great era where she was one of the original breeders of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Like my own dogs, it would be difficult today not to find a pedigree which does not trace back to her sunninghill Cavaliers. Arguably, one of her most famous show and stud dogs was the tricolour Ch Aloysius of Sunninghill, who not only sired nine Champions, but won 19 CCs, a record held for nearly 40 years until 1994. Together with the blenheim stud dog Int Ch Sunninghill Perseus of Lochfee, Miss Turle's bloodlines helped establish other mighty kennels such as the Burgess's Crisdigs and Caroline Gillies's McGoogans. Miss Turle's blenheim male Ch Sunninghill Broomsquire of Waterston has special appeal to me and he certainly would not look out of place in the ring today. I believe this dog won the CC at possibly his first ever championship show under the late Mrs Herminie Warner Hill. Miss Turle's contemporaries viewed her as a bit of a 'Golden' girl and she became a pillar of the breed through her excellence as a breeder and as a judge. She achieved a lot.
As a judge Miss Turle's opinion was much sought simply because she knew what the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ought to look like! She was forthright and unbiased, strict in her ring procedure but fair, it was not unknown for her to inform an exhibitor: "I will give you one more minute to get that dog's tail wagging!"
While researching my book, I learned she always wanted to become a film director; she was a little reluctant to have this information printed, but I included it because it said so much about her. She was one of the great characters, a free spirit and indomitable. She told it as it was and I was privileged she shared so much with me.
Educated at Oxford, Miss Turle was very intelligent and well read. She shunned television, preferring her radio and listening to her great love classical music, I do not think she found it difficult to lead her almost solitary life at her remote farmhouse. Initially, Miss Turle had purchased a secluded farm simply so she could take her own dogs for an uninterrupted walk!
Quarry Hill Farm was where Miss Turle spent her retiring years overlooking a picturesque valley from her lovely garden and many acres.
With the advent of parvo virus into Britain in the late 70s and the confusion with preventative measures that followed, Miss Turle saw it as a cue to hang up her show leads, but she continued judging until the early 80s. A progressive disability with her neck and spine forced her to eventually give up judging.
One of her last engagements was the Scottish Kennel Club. It was a lovely sunny day and Miss Turle thoroughly enjoyed meeting all her friends and aquaintances in the lunch break; so much so that there came urgent appeals on the tannoy, causing so much mirth around the crowded ringside when the speaker asked for "Miss TURTLE to return to her waiting exhibitors!" However anybody present that day were treated to the finest display of blenheim type judging. Anything that was any good was not overlooked and was included in an outstanding lineup at the end.
Her CC winners were a first for Parkwall Horizon, who went onto his title, and Ch Millstone Folly of Magjen. (I had a very good day with my new puppy Salador Crismark).
One of the most abiding memories I have of Miss Turle is of one VERY foggy day in Shropshire. It was a 'pea souper' and would take a very brave soul to venture out in a car. Geoffrey Porter was over from Ireland and I said Miss Turle was coming from Monmouthshire to use one of the stud dogs. The weather was so bad Geoffrey who, like many other people, revered Miss Turle as a bit of a legend and was dying to meet her, expressed his disbelief that she would show up. "I bet you she does", said I. You could not see the garden hedge from the window, and the only way we knew I had won the bet was when we both heard loud classical music being played outside by the side of the house!
Miss Turle will be sadly missed. Condolences must go to her family and her special friends Mary and Bridget who did so much for her towards the end of her life.