LINGMOOR TOM (1900)
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Not all fanciers see themselves as breeders when they first start out, but they may wish to partake in the hobby of showing their de-sexed pets, and enjoying both the win and the society shared with like-minded fanciers. One such lady from this early period in the Fancy was Mrs. Hastings Lees, and her two daughters, Miss Norah Lees and Miss Gladys Lees, of Lingmoor, Dean Park, Bournemouth.
The province of cat fancying belonged in the main with Miss Norah Lee, who exhibited two fine long-haired specimens in the orange tabby 'Lingmoor Tom' (a desexed male) and the cream queen, 'Lingmoor Myrtle'. As her interest in the cats and their varieties increased, she advanced to include 'Lingmoor Dick' (a Blue neuter) and 'Lingmoor Harry' (a Silver Tabby neuter) but often referred to as a chinchilla, while he was yet a kitten. These de-sexed males, 'Tom', 'Dick' & 'Harry' , when shown as adults, very quickly established themselves as noted fixtures under the 'Lingmoor' cattery name.
The most successful of all these were both 'Lingmoor Myrtle' (aka 'Wynnstay Myrtle), who was Norah's first serious breeding queen, and 'Lingmoor Tom' about whom this missive is written.
CH Wooloomooloo Oliver Woolleepug | Unknown Lingmoor Tom, 21-Aug-1900, Orange Tabby Persian | Unknown Orange Girl Unknown
'Lingmoor Tom' was an orange tabby, who could boast distinguished parentage. His sire was Mesdames Lemmon and Bartlett's 'Oliver Woolleepug' a highly respected Blue Persian male in his own right, who could boast that he was one of the lucky sons of that grand blue Persian male, 'Champion Wooloomooloo'
The dam of 'Lingmoor Tom' was Mrs. Sinkin's exceptional orange queen, 'Orange Girl', for whom there is no surviving pedigree information. But fortunate that her photograph survives as the leading image in Frances Simpsons chapter on Reds, in 'The Book of The Cat' (1903) published by Cassell & Co. The photograph is by J. G. Christopher, of Crewherne; and it shows that 'Orange Girl' had great depth of eye colour and a firm chin.
We can also find two short commentaries on her, one by Frances Simpson and the other by Mrs. Darcy Hildyard, who was herself a specialist breeder of reds. From Frances Simpson:
"Among the prize-winning females of the present day I must not forget to notice Mrs. Singleton's 'Orange Girl', bred from Mrs. Beal's noted strain. This cat has many honours showered upon her during a very short career, and as there must always be as scarcity of queens in this breed, this fine specimen is a valuable possession."4(Editor: This one reference to her heritage suggests that 'Orange Girl' may have indeed been descended down from 'Jael', one of the finest reds ever benched.)
And from Mrs. Hildyard, further elaboration:
"At present there is to my mind, no orange female on the show bench to compare with the late 'Jael', owned by Miss Mildred Beal, whose brilliant colour and perfect head with its tiny ears made her hold her own at all the shows up to within two months of her death at quite a venerable age; but I hope in future, as oranges become more popular and breeders work hard at producing good specimens, we may see her like again. I was much taken at Richmond Show with Mrs. Singleton's 'Orange Girl', and also with the kitten of that colour, exhibited by the same lady at Manchester."4 (Editor: The kitten mentioned here may very well have been the young 'Tom').
As far as can be ascertained, there are no full siblings of record for 'Lingmoor Tom', but many sire-sibings, by 'Oliver Woolleepug', predominantly of course, from dilute to dilute breedings. None of these bear any historical relevance in their relationship with our lovely 'Tom'.
With regard to show results, the Registers do not generally record the wins of de-sexed cats! But from the page in Our Cats in December 1904, which features a photograph of 'Lingmoor Tom' sitting among his many trophies and awards, we are able to at least glean the following:
"Winner of 14 firsts, 3 seconds, 31 Special Prizes, and 3 challenge cups. The Bowl on the left was bought with his prize money for 1902 and 1903."1
As 'Lingmoor Tom' was a neuter, there were of course, no progeny. But we have this illuminating report on a visit to the Lingmoor Cattery, by a staff reporter for Our Cats magazine. The report was published 19th December, 1903:
"A real paradise for animal lovers is to be found at Lingmoor, Dean Park, Bournemouth. But the lucky pet which is allowed to remain within the paradise must prove himself or herself conclusively to be the very best specimen of their kind. No second-raters are tolerated and several cats have been lately tried and found wanting! Not merely cats are favoured by Mrs. Hastings Lees and her two daughters.
"The two Lingmoor Poodles, Coco and Café Noir, have won many first prizes, and are well-known characters in the town, and Kitty Grey, the friendly Toy Bulldog, carried off first at three Kennel Club Shows.
"The cats are the special property of Miss Norah Lees, and Lingmoor Tom, the grand orange neuter, and Lingmoor Myrtle, the beautiful cream queen have, we believe, headed their respective classes every time they have been "out" this year.
"Unfortunately, Tom, who is a really gorgeously beautiful animal, does not photograph well, and we are able today to give only the photo of his comrade, Lingmoor Harry, a handsome Chinchilla, one of the trio of neuters, Dick, Tom, and Harry. Though not emulating Tom's wins, Harry has taken many prizes, and generally scores a first in the Ring Class."5
(Editor's note: Like many silvers shown as kittens, and invariably erroneously described as 'Chinchilla's', some as adults, inevitably turned out to be silver tabbies. Lingmoor Harry was no exception. His is described in this article as a 'chinchilla', but his registration as an adult shows him as a '7', which is a Silver Tabby. We were also able to source this adult photo of him, which featured on a postcard of the era.)
The writer continues to provide more insights into life at Lingmoor:
"Mrs. Hastings Lees has also two aviaries of birds, and her younger daughter, Miss Gladys Lees, was until recently, a noted mouse fancier, having won challenge cups, championship and specials innumerable with fancy mice of her own breeding.
The cavy fancy was also taken in hand by these enthusiastic ladies, and a part of the garden is still given up to the old cavies running wild, the fathers and mothers of winners.
What strikes a visitor to Lingmoor very forcibly is that all the animals are kept for the enjoyment of the thing; not too many dogs or cats to make their presence in the house and in the drawing room unwelcome. And how can these lovely orange and cream Persians be seen to better advantage than at their ease in an artistic and beautifully coloured drawing room?
We are a firm advocate of hobbies, and believe largely in their saving grace. The Lingmoor ladies have more than their fair share. Music, wonderful embroidery, elaborate art metal work, photography, all are taken up and carried as far as they will go by these energetic ladies. Their motto certainly is that anything that is worth doing at all is worth doing as well as possible. In this we most cordially agree with them."5
How many breeders of today got their start in pedigree cats, but first buying a pedigreed pet that took their fancy? A great many we would suggest!
This fundamentally underpins the fact that all pedigreed cats are firstly pets, even the top breeding and show cats!, which is of course, how it should be. The cat's individual welfare should never come second to the owners desire to have it breed successfully or take honours in the ring. The joys of winning awards and even of enjoying watching the gambols of progeny from your beloved pet, should never override the personal relationship you have , one on one with that special animal.
The story of 'Lingmoor Tom' is one of success in the ring, and of the joy obtained by sharing that fun with the cat….and we see plenty of evidence of cats that are simply born to show themselves off on the judges table, and in fact, very often thrive on it. But not all cats are the same, and if yours show a propensity for not wanting to be shown, please leave it at home! For all our sakes!
'Lingmoor Tom' represents what a top show cat that would today be exhibited in the 'Premiership' show category, could achieve, well over 100 years ago. It gives much pleasure to see a cat from that era, who so clearly enjoyed the shows and who very likely did so, because of the loving relationship he had with his owners both inside and outside of the family home.
Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).
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