Sanctuary Kennels

The Sanctuary Kennels was set up in the early 1940s by Margaret Harrison and May Atfield. The name 'Sanctuary' was based on the work they did from the start of the 2nd World War taking care of dogs belonging to airmen whilst they were flying or if they had been killed or imprisoned.

Margaret was the youngest of four sisters who were all extremely talented musically. Their father was Colonel John Harrison, the Principal of St. Thomas' College of Sappers and Miners and a talented amateur flautist. Their mother was a singer and a pupil at the Royal College of Music, and, because of the limits put on her at that time, was determined that her daughters would have the freedom to shine in the world of music.

The first two girls were born in India but Mrs. Harrison found the heat intolerable and so the family moved back to England and Colonel Harrison was put in charge of The Royal Engineers Band at Chatham so the girls' early childhood was spent in a very musical environment.

Margaret was born in 1899 and went to the Royal College of Music in 1904 just before her fifth birthday. She was the youngest student the College has ever taken. She played the violin and the piano. In 1908 the family moved to Berlin for two years and the eldest of the four sisters, May, went to study in St. Petersburg with the famous violin teacher Leopold Auer, and Margaret accompanied her to study under Auer's assistant. She then returned to the Royal College and made her professional debut at Wigmore Hall in 1918.

The Harrisons lived in London until 1920 - apart from the period in Berlin - and were very much a part of the London social life, including being on visiting terms with the Royal Family. They then moved to Oxted, Surrey, where they were visited by most of the leading musicians of the day. Frederick and Jelka Delius were particular friends of the family, as were Sir Edward & Lady Elgar. The house was called Foyle Riding and there was a large barn that was turned into a grand music room. The land with Foyle Riding was so vast that Mrs. Harrison employed six gardeners to maintain the garden in good order. It also gave them plenty of room for their collection of animals and birds, which was started by the sisters at an early age. The dogs were mainly Scottish Terriers, but they also had the occasional Irish wolfhound and Airedale over the years. Their home was quite close to the Grevel Kennels of Mrs. I.H. Barr and the Ouborough Kennels of Mr. J.V. Rank, but no hounds were actually listed with the Kennel Club as being registered to the Harrison family until 1932. They also had a great many budgerigars, canaries, and parrots.

Beatrice, the second born, was a cellist and extremely famous. She became particularly well-known when she played a duet with a nightingale in the garden of Foyle Riding, which was broadcast by the BBC.

Beatrice playing the cello in Foyle Riding garden
Cellist Beatrice Harrison at her home in Oxted, Surrey in June 1929. Photograph: Fox Photos:Getty Images
Margaret Harrison at about the time of her debut in 1918

In 1932 Beatrice took on Chulainn Marpessa, a bitch bred by Mrs. D. Le B. Bennett, by Cloghran of Ouborough ex Morag of Clonard, wh. January 4th, 1931.

Beatrice & Marpessa in the garden of Foyle Riding

Mrs. Harrison died in 1934, as did Delius, and Colonel Harrison followed shortly after. Delius had told Mrs. Harrison that he wanted to be buried in Southern England, and the Harrison sisters were able to have him exhumed in May, 1935, brought over to England and buried in Limpsfield churchyard near to the Harrisons.

By 1937 May had been living in London for a few years and Beatrice and Monica moved from Foyle Riding to Woolborough Farm at Outwood, Surrey to continue to tend to the collection of animals and birds, and more or less fade into retirement, although in May 1946 Beatrice, May and Margaret took part in a Delius Memorial Concert in Wigmore Hall. Beatrice's last public performance was a televised recital in 1958 to help raise money for the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. Interestingly, Woolborough Farm was once owned by Shelley and the farmhouse dates back to the 13th century.

 Woolborough Farm
with five ponds, five orchards and a forest of elm trees

May died in 1958, Beatrice in 1965 and Monica in 1983. They were all buried in Limpsfield churchyard.

For more on the Harrison Sisters see:-

May Atfield's introduction to Irish wolfhounds came about through her working for Mr. Cornish Bowden, MRCVS, a vet to whom many well-known wolfhound breeders in the locality - such as J.V. Rank - used to take their hounds for treatment. He was also a member of the Irish Wolfhound Club and, by 1928 was made an Honorary Member. She fell in love with the breed and eventually bought a hound from Mrs. Hartland-Rowe of the Chulainn Kennels based near Lewes in East Sussex. She also met the Harrisons and became a close friend to them all, but particularly to Margaret, and then moved in to live with them in the late 1930s.

May had actually first started in dogs with Pomeranians and Pekingese at the age of 15, working with Mrs. Patten (Waynflete & Redhill), who bred the miniature white Pomeranian, and these lines were carried on in the Sanctuary Pomeranians.

The first Irish wolfhound registered to Margaret and May under the Sanctuary prefix was listed in November 1943 and was the bitch May had bought from the Chulainn Kennels. She was by Chulainn Casey ex Scota of Brabyns, wh. May 3rd, 1939, and registered as Sanctuary Clever. In May 1944 another bitch, Artel Clodagh, was transferred to them from Mrs. F.M. Fitz-Gibbon. Clodagh was by Clonboy of Ouborough ex Artel Felclarion, wh. November 26th, 1943.

Beatrice with the two hounds in 1944

The Surrey Mirror of March 10th, 1944 carried this item of news:-
Miss Beatrice Harrison, the famous cellist, who, with her equally famous sister, Miss Margaret Harrison, is joining hands with Miss Atfield, of the Sanctuary Kennels, is giving a concert at the Odeon Cinema, Redhill on March 19th at 2.30 p.m., in aid of the Dogs of Britain Red Cross Appeal. These three lady members of the Kennel Club are anxious to give the dog a foremost place in raising money for our prisoners-of-war, and any concert held under Miss Harrison's auspices is bound to prove a great success. Artists in addition to the Misses Harrison will be Flora Neilsen (mezzo-soprano), Marjorie Alexander (a brilliant New Zealand pianist), and Dale Smith (the well-known baritone). It is hoped that all those who love good music and are also interested in the dog-lovers' effort for the Red Cross, will take tickets for this concert, or send a small donation to Miss Harrison at Woolborough Farm, Outwood, near Redhill, Surrey."

Shortly after this they moved to Crab Hill House, nr. Redhill, Surrey, with 13 acres of woodland. Beatrice Harrison had Pomeranians, while Margaret Harrison and May Atfield had the wolfhounds and white Pekingese.

Crab Hill House, South Nutfield

In 1946 they took on another hound; Saragh of Ballykelly, by McCrea of Ballykelly ex Eona of Raikeshill, wh. July 29th, 1945 and bred by Sheelagh Seale. Then three years went by before the next hound, Bosthune of Boroughbury, by Sulhamstead Cosmo ex Casbah of Ouborough, wh. February 8th, 1948 and bred by Mrs. James. Both hounds then had 'Sanctuary' added to their names.

In 1948 they took out an advertisement for their Pekingese and Irish wolfhounds, which showed the photograph of Crab Hill House and two of Margaret Harrison:-

Margaret Harrison with Sanctuary Clever,
a 1st prize winner the only time shown

Margaret Harrison with Sanctuary Treasure and
S. Caress

In 1950 Casbah of Ouborough was transferred from Mrs. James to Sanctuary. Casbah was by Clonboy of Ouborough ex Killala of Ouborough and whelped January 30th, 1944. Also in 1950 they took on Sulhamstead Fuchsia, by Ch. Sulhamstead Monty ex Sulhamstead Felcara, wh. July 4th, 1950. Casbah won the Brood Bitch Cup that year.

Margaret Harrison with (l to r) Ballykelly Saragh,
Sanctuary Bosthune of Boroughbury and
Casbah of Ouborough
May Atfield with
Sanctuary Bosthune of Boroughbury

In 1951 they took on Develin Rosemary, by Develin Gay Buccaneer ex Corinna of Engelcarne, wh. December 21st, 1946, bred by Mrs. Wager, and first transferred to Miss M. Cotterell (October 1948), then transferred to Margaret and May in March 1951, when her name was changed to Sanctuary Develin Rosemary. Also in 1951 they registered Sanctuary Colleen, by Kerryman of Boroughbury ex Tana of Boroughbury, wh. September 28th, 1950 and bred by Mrs. James.

A 1951 advertisement showed these photographs:-

In front Beatrice Harrison and her cello, at back Margaret Harrison with
puppies in a cradle that belonged to Charles II

May Atfield with Ballykelly Saragh, Casbah of Ouborough and
Sanctuary Bosthune of Boroughbury
From l to r: Margaret Harrison with Casbah of Ouborough,
Beatrice Harrison with Ballykelly Saragh, and
May Atfield with Sanctuary Bosthune of Boroughbury

In March 1952 they registered their first home-bred litter, by Kilmurry of Ouborough ex Sanctuary Colleen, wh. November 28th, 1951; four bitches - Catherine, Cleaver, Clover, and Cora, and one dog Cuchuchlain. In the same month was listed the transfer from Mrs. James of Finneen of Ballykelly, by Sean of Corfechase ex Boroughbury Casino of Spean, bred by Sheelagh Seale and whelped December 10th, 1950. Also the transfer from J.V. Rank of Slender of Ouborough, by Kilmurry of Ouborough ex Ouborough Tara of Boroughbury, wh. August 14th, 1951. In August 1952 was listed the transfer of Kirkheaton Moya from Mr. & Mrs. Furness. She was registered with the Irish Kennel Club, by Mulligan of Boroughbury ex Develin Dinah, wh. April 22nd, 1947 and bred by Miss E. Lithgow.

Miss Atfield and Miss Harrison out in the woods with (from left to right)
Saragh of Ballykelly, Sanctuary Colleen, Sanctuary Develin Rosemary and
Sanctuary Slender of Ouborough
Three of the hounds checking on some Pekingese puppies
May Atfield with Sanctuary Develin Rosemary and
Margaret Harrison with Kirkheaton Moya

In November, 1952 Margaret and May registered a bitch, Sanctuary Beth, and a dog, Sanctuary Gelert, bred by Mrs. M.E. Webb, by Tiernan of Boroughbury ex Evershot Sandra, wh. February 21st, 1952. Both were later transferred to other people. Also in November 1952 was listed the transfer of Spark of Boroughbury from Mr. & Mrs. Furness. She was by Kerryman of Boroughbury ex Tana of Boroughbury, wh. September 28th, 1950, bred by Mrs. James.

In 1952 five of the Sanctuary hounds took part in the M.G.M. film Ivanhoe, starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Emlyn Williams, and Finlay Currie.

Finlay Currie as "Cedric" with Sanctuary Develin Rosemary in the
M.G.M. film 'Ivanhoe'

1952 was the year in which Rory of Kihone was presented to the Irish Wolfhound Club by Miss F. Jeanette McGregor, Massachusetts, U.S.A. to help the breed recover following the depradations of the war. Of course he had to spend six months in quarantine and Margaret visited him frequently. At a committee meeting of the Irish Wolfhound Club it was decided that he should go to live with Margaret and May, who would then repay the Club for the cost of his quarantine. His name was then officially changed to Sanctuary Rory of Kihone. His breeding was Taddeus of Kihone ex Chalet Cam, wh. March 31st, 1951.

Sanctuary Rory of Kihone 
Rory with Margaret Harrison at the L.K.A.

In 1953 Sanctuary Rory of Kihone won the CC at Edinburgh. In September of that year was listed the transfer to Margaret and May from the late J.V. Rank of Killiney of Ouborough - a dog from the same litter as Slender of Ouborough - and his name was changed to Sanctuary Killiney of Ouborough. In November, 1953 Margaret and May registered their second litter - four bitches: Sanctuary Sapphire, Serene, Sophia, and Symbol, and two dogs: Shannon and Sublime, by Rory ex Spark of Boroughbury. Sulhamstead Fellad, by Sanctuary Rory of Kihone ex Sulhamstead Felcara, wh. May 14th, 1953 was transferred from Mrs. Nagle and his name changed to Sanctuary Sulhamstead Fellad.

At this time both May and Margaret had been on the Committee of the Irish Wolfhound Club for several years.

In 1954 Rory won the Stud Dog Cup. In August of that year two dogs were registered - Sanctuary Fable and Superb, by Rory ex Develin Molly, wh. April 16th, 1954 and bred by Mrs. R. Jenkins.

May Atfield with some of Sanctuary Rory of Kihone's progeny
Margaret Harrison with a group of the Irish wolfhounds

In 1955 Rory won his second CC at Birmingham. He also won the Stud Dog Cup again. In May, 1955 was listed the importation by Mrs. Van Brunt from the U.S.A. of American Ch. Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn, by Cragwood Gaelic Harp ex Barn Hill Gilda, wh. March 12th, 1949 and bred by Mrs. Norwood Smith. Two months later he was listed as transferred to Margaret and May by Mrs. Van Brunt. On July 18th of that year another Sanctuary litter was whelped, by Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn ex Sanctuary Serene. There was one bitch, Sanctuary Seleena and four dogs, Shamus, Showman, Swallow and Sword.

Mrs. F. Van Brunt with Am. Ch. Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn

In 1956 Margaret and May registered Sanctuary Patrick, by Barney O'Shea ex Sheilagh of Eaglescrag, wh. November 2nd, 1955 and bred by Mrs. Bray. Later there was the transfer to them from Mrs. Bray of Sandorleigh Brian (later exported to Italy) from the same litter. They then registered a home-bred litter by Rory ex Sanctuary Cleaver, wh. February 11th, 1956 of four dogs - Sanctuary Reel, Rhyme, Rhythm and Rondino - and three bitches - Rachel, Rhona and Roberta.

Sanctuary Cleaver had another litter by Rory on August 29th, 1956: of six dogs - Sanctuary Carefree, Carola, Casey, Clarinet, Classic and Clef - and two bitches - Cicely and Claire. Three bitch puppies from a litter by Rory out of Rippingdon Rhapsody, whelped June 27th, 1956, and bred by Miss B. Harding were registered in December, 1956. These were Sanctuary Rhilla, Rita and Rosita.

Sanctuary Carefree on his first birthday 

Rory won the Stud Dog Cup in 1956, 1957 and 1958. This made it five years in succession, a record in the breed. Sanctuary Cleaver won the Brood Bitch Cup in 1957. At this time Pomeranians had been added to the kennels. The wolfhounds also made several appearances in the operas "The Trojans" and "Don Carlos" at Covent Garden.

Margaret Harrison with (l to r) Sanctuary Classic, Ch. Sanctuary Rory of Kihone,
Sanctuary Carola and Sanctuary Claire
Margaret Harrison with Ch. Sanctuary Rory of Kihone (left)
and his daughter Sanctuary Serene

An advertisement in 1958 showed May Atfield with (l to r) Ch. Sanctuary Rory of Kihone, Sanctuary Carola, Sanctuary Classic, Sanctuary Cleaver and Sanctuary Claire:


In February, 1958 was listed the transfer to Sanctuary of Bard of Eaglescrag and Sonnet of Eaglescrag, by Rory ex Kilfenora of Ouborough, wh. August 31st 1957, bred by Mr. & Mrs. Jenkins, with Bard later going on to someone else. Then in May the transfer of Dornford Berol and Dornford Boreen, by Sandorleigh Silver ex Janvrins Gaela, wh. January 7th 1958, bred by Mrs. Garbutt, with Berol later being transferred to Mrs. Madigan of the Branwen Kennels. In October, 1958 Margaret and May registered Sanctuary Barney, a dog from the same litter as Berol and Boreen.

In 1959 Rory again won the Stud Dog Cup, Sanctuary Sulhamstead Fellad won the Van Brunt Points Cup (Dog). Fellad also won the CC and Best of Breed at Blackpool Show in 1959, and Sanctuary Sandorleigh Triena won the CC at Hove Show that year. Triena was by Sanctuary Fable ex Finneen of Ballykelly, wh. November 21st, 1956, bred by Mrs. E. Bray.

In May 1959 was listed the transfer of Sandorleigh Triena from Mrs. Bray. In August the registration of Sanctuary Boru, litterbrother to Sanctuary Barney. Both Barney and Boru were later transferred to other people.

Sanctuary Sandorleigh Triena 

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