The Legend of Gelert the Dog
One of the best known and loved folk-tales in Wales is the story of a faithful hound, and the Staffordshire potters were as always, quick to capitalise on this sad and poignant tale.
The story goes that in the thirteenth-century, Prince Llywelyn the Great had a palace at Beddgelert in Caernarvonshire, North Wales. The Prince was a keen hunter, and spent much of his time in the surrounding countryside. He had many hunting dogs, but one day when he summoned them as usual with his horn, his favourite dog Gelert didn’t appear, so regretfully Llywelyn had to go hunting without him.
When Llywelyn returned from the hunt he was greeted by Gelert who came bounding towards him… his jaws dripping with blood. The Prince was appalled, and a horrible thought came into his mind… was the blood on the dog’s muzzle that of his one-year old son? His worst fears were realised when he saw in the child’s nursery, an upturned cradle and walls spattered with blood! He searched for the child but there was no sign of him. Llywelyn was convinced that his favourite hound had killed his son.
Mad with grief he took his sword and plunged it into Gelert’s heart. As the dog howled in death, Llywelyn heard a child’s cry coming from underneath the upturned cradle. It was his son, unharmed! Beside the child was an enormous wolf, dead, killed by the brave Gelert. Llywelyn was struck with remorse and carried the body of his faithful dog outside the castle walls and buried him where everyone could see the grave of this brave animal, and hear the story of his valiant fight with the wolf. To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh ‘The grave of Gelert’. Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog.
More Figures of the month
This is a very rare and desirable titled Staffordshire figure of FitzRoy James Henry Somerset Raglan, aka Field Marshal Lord Raglan. The figure stands a little over 13” tall and dates to around 1854. It may be found in Pugh’s 1987 edition of Staffordshire Portrait Figures, page 258, and in Harding Book One, page 121.
Pair of white cats
This is a rare pair of seated cats, approximately 13 ½” tall. They are decorated in bright gold and date to around 1870-1880. Harding Book Two illustrates this impressive pair on page 239.
Tiger and lion
This is a rare figure of a tiger and lion lying in front of a palm tree. Circus acts with wild animals became very popular in England during the 1830s and it is possible that this figure as well as other animal figures commemorated these events.
This is a rare figure portraying Lady Godiva seated sidesaddle on horseback. The figure is titled “Lady Godiva” and is decorated in the manner of the Parr factory, with soft yellow, green, and brown brushstrokes.
This is an early Staffordshire figure of a woman standing on a grassy pedestal, with a coin in her extended hand. The figure is titled “Lost Piece” and represents the biblical verses found in Luke 15:8-10.
This is a gilt script titled figure of William Shakespeare with his right arm resting on a book atop a pedestal. Next to the pedestal is a sloped watch holder with a clock face painted inside, sitting atop a tree decorated with grapes.