History of the Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club

Reproduced from an article by Mrs R Wood-Davis first published in Dog World April 1998.

In the early 1900s a few ladies, already well known and successful in other toy breeds, started to take an interest in Papillons and were importing from Belgium and Holland. By 1923 there were sufficient devotees of the breed to consider the formation of a club, and in November 1923 the inaugural meeting was held to lay the foundation. The formation of the club was approved by the Kennel Club and the suggested title, The Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club, was agreed.

The first general meeting of the club was held in May 1924, when Mrs Gordon-Gratrix became Chairman, replacing Mrs Hunter who had been acting Chairman from the inaugural meeting. By 1929 the club was becoming established and five dogs and five bitches had attained their titles. The first handbook was produced in 1930, just 16 pages, and the first show organised by the club was in 1934, held jointly with the Japanese Chin and Griffon clubs.

On the outbreak of war in 1939 the activities of the club, like many others, came to a standstill and it was not until November 1945 that a general meeting could be held. In 1946, once again with the Japanese Chin and Griffon clubs, a championship show was held in June. The KC gave permission for another championship show to be held in October, this time jointly with the Japanese Chin Club. Two more championship shows were held in 1947 but then came a gap of nine years, and it was not until 1956 that the next championship show was held. From then on the championship show has been an annual event.

In 1949 a second handbook appeared, and since then a handbook has been produced around every three years. From that handbook in 1930 of just 16 pages, the 1998 handbook boasts 291 pages. By the early ’50s the club began to grow and the 1951 handbook saw 40 members listed. Two of the names appearing in that list are Mrs Swann, now our president, and Mrs Staff (Ringlands) now a vice president who, together with her daughter, is still active in breeding and showing. The 1998 handbook lists 614 members which includes 102 members overseas.

In 1960, Peter Benson, son of Mrs E F Benson (Thingden Papillons), made a black and white sketch of Fru Fru, owned by his mother and bred by Miss Burnett-Hurst. The sketch was used for the cover of the 1960 club handbook. The head study was so admired and proved to be such a success that it was adopted as the Club’s motif and is still used today.

In 1961 the benevolent fund was formed to help members who might be ill and unable to care for their dogs. This scheme has gone from strength to strength and since 1968 has been ably managed by Mrs Knowles. In addition to this, in the early ’70s a further scheme was implemented with the introduction of area representatives to provide local contacts.

Another introduction, in April 1961, was the production of the club’s first newsletter – four foolscap pages. the first copies were produced by typing the copy on to ‘skins’ and then being attached to a Gestetner machine. The operator then had manually to turn the handle for each page reproduced. Eventually the club invested in an electrically operated machine which considerably lightened the load – especially as the membership was growing quite quickly. With the one-hundredth issue in January 1986, the newsletter took on a new format and was produced as a booklet. As printing technology has progressed, it is now possible to reproduce photographs.

Another scheme introduced in the early ’70s was that of ‘student judges’. The KC agreed to this but to comply with its regulations it was necessary to amend the title to ‘assistant stewards’. Maybe this was one reason why, although it was popular to start with, it did eventually fade out. However, several specialist judges today did start their judging careers in this manner.

Several lectures and seminars have been held over the years, one of the first being a talk by the late Leo Wilson FZS before the AGM in 1957. Prior to the 1995 AGM, a talk, with illustrated slides was given by Sally Turner on PRA. The club intends to have more educational events in the future.

Down the years the club has been served by a team of dedicated lovers of our breed who gave their time and effort in working for the good of the club. It is to them we must give our thanks for the position the club holds today. Since the formation of the Papillon Club, four other successful clubs have been formed, the Papillon Club of Scotland, the South Wales Papillon Club and, lastly the Northern, Eastern Counties Papillon Club and South of England Papillon Club. All clubs are thriving.

I am sure that with the enthusiasm and dedication of the members of all four clubs they – and Papillons – will continue to flourish for many years to come.

Minutes of The First General Meeting of The Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club

Held at Holland Park Hall on Friday November 9th 1923 at 1.30pm

There were present:- Mrs Hunter, Mrs Ashton Cross, Miss Harvey, Miss Dew, Mrs Fraser, Miss Cunard and Miss Helen Dashwood.

Mrs Hunter took the chair and Miss Helen Dashwood acted as Secretary.

It was proposed, seconded and unanimously carried and RESOLVED that the following Officers of the Club should be appointed.

President:Mrs Tempest
Vice-Presidents:Lady Dashwood, Mrs Curran and Mrs Ashton Cross
Chairman:Mrs Hunter
Vice-Chairman:Mrs Gordon Gratrix
Hon.Treasurer:Miss Harvey
Hon. Secretary:Miss Helen Dashwood

It was proposed, seconded and unanimously carried that the following should be elected to the Committee, Mrs Cooper, Miss Woodland and Miss Cunard.

It was proposed, seconded and unanimously carried that Mr Snell should be asked to be Honorary Veterinary Surgeon to the Club.

It was proposed, seconded and carried unanimously that Honorary Members should be elected to the Club and it was decided to ask the under mentioned to become Honorary Members:-

Mrs Carlo Clarke, Mrs Robson, Will Hally Esq., G Horowitz Esq., Robert Leighton Esq.

It was proposed, seconded, unanimously carried and RESOLVED that the Standard of Points to be adopted should be those of the Royal Society of St Hubert, the Belgian Kennel Club.

Candidates for election to the Club were elected and the Honorary Secretary was instructed to enter their names in the Register of members.

The proposed Rules of the Club were read, selected and duly approved.

The Hon. Secretary was instructed to endeavour to get Honorary Auditors and Solicitors to act in their respective capacities on behalf of the Club, and to inform the Committee in writing when this had been accomplished.

The Honorary Secretary was instructed to apply for Registration of Title with The Kennel Club at the first available opportunity.

There being no further business to transact, the meeting then adjourned.

C. M. Hunter, Chairman