Because of these advancements, the Turnspit dog was used less and less until it was finally extinct. Shakespeare mentions them in his play The Comedy of Errors. hide caption. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was a breed of dog that was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. 'Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed,' says Sally Davis, long-time custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. Open-fire roasting required constant attention from the cook and constant turning of the spit. The Kitchen Sisters Shakespeare mentions them. Coco didn't fare too well in the wheel. Download the latest version here. "Darwin said, 'Look at the spit dog. Lucy Worsley, chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces in London, attempted to roast on a spit powered by a dog in a wheel at the George Inn. The hands used to blister. Some had gray and white fur; others were black or reddish brown. This entry was posted in History , Uncategorized and tagged Dog History , Great Britain History , Kitchen Dog , Norwegian Elkhound , Turnspit Dog , Unremembered , Unrememebered History , Viking History , Welsh Corgi history , Working Dog History . "It was a way they used to differentiate between the dogs of the nobility and the dogs belonging to ordinary people. "It became a stigma of poverty to have a turnspit dog," says author Bondeson. Email This BlogThis! "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. Today, it is possible that the genes of the Turnspit dog still lives through a Welsh breed called the Bowsy Terrier. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog.". "It was a way they used to differentiate between the dogs of the nobility and the dogs belonging to ordinary people. A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869. They were ugly little dogs with quite morose disposition so nobody wanted to keep them as pets. Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. My name is Sally Davis, custodian at Abergavenny Museum in Wales. That's an example of how people can breed animals to suit particular needs. hide caption, Back at Abergavenny Museum, Whiskey, the last remaining turnspit, is a permanent fixture. Back in the 16th century, many people preferred to cook meat over an open fire. Charles Darwin commented on the dogs as an example of genetic engineering. In the 1850s, the founder of the SPCA was appalled by the way the turnspit dogs were treated in the hotels in Manhattan. The patter from the little dog's feet. "The downtrodden, lumpen, proletariat turnspit cooking dogs may well be related to the queen's pampered royal pooches.". BONDESON: They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. The turnspit dogs became extinct. Copyright 2019 NPR. Hannah Penn, the wife of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, wrote to England requesting that the dog wheel for her turnspits be sent. The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. "They were ugly little dogs with a quite morose disposition, so nobody wanted to keep them as pets. "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. In 1750 there were turnspits everywhere. ", What kind of dog today is the closest to a turnspit dog? "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869. Yeah, we're continuing our season of hidden kitchens, our series exploring little known kitchen rituals and traditions, with a dog that was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in medieval kitchens. The boys' hands used to blister. When any meat was to be roasted, one of these dogs was hoisted into a wooden wheel mounted on the wall near the fireplace. The turnspit was a breed of dog that was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was a breed of dog that was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16 th century. "Turnspit dogs were viewed as kitchen utensils, as pieces of machinery rather than as dogs," says Bondeson. "They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. In 1750 there were turnspits everywhere in Great Britain. Where's this vexatious turnspit gone? Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images In 1750 there were Turnspits everywhere. BONDESON: Though a numerous kitchen dog wheel is kept in various museums, but the Abergavenny Museum has the only example of what a turnspit dog really looked like. But by 1850 they had become scarce, and by 1900 they had disappeared. "In 1745, the owner of the Statehouse Inn advertised that he had turnspit dogs for sale. ", Back at Abergavenny Museum, Whiskey, the last remaining turnspit, is a permanent fixture. SALLY DAVIS: During the Middle Ages, cooking a meal, large joint meat could only be done on a spit, and the lowliest person in the kitchen staff, usually a small boy, turned the spit hours and hours. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. "Charles Darwin commented on the dogs as an example of genetic engineering," she tells us. The Castle, Castle Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire Tel: 01873 854282 Free Admission (excludes special events) "Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. BONDESON: What kind of dog today is the closest relation to turnspit dog? Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. ... Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur ... View Slideshow 1 of 5. To train the dog to run faster, a glowing coal was thrown into the wheel, Bondeson adds. The dog wheel circa 1890, drawn in E.F. King's. My book is "Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities.". Some had gray and white fur; others were black or reddish brown. Historically, Jack Russels hunted rats, Border Collies herded sheep, Greyhounds hunted hares and … And that's how the turnspit got its other name: vernepator cur, Latin for "the dog that turns the wheel.". Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images View Slideshow 2 of 5 The availability of cheap spit-turning machines, called clock jacks, brought about the demise of the turnspit dog. In 1702, the wife of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, writes to England that she wants a wheel for her turnspit dogs and a butter churn. This late 18th century turnspit would originally have been powered by a small dog running within it. The type is now extinct.It is mentioned in Of English Dogs in 1576 under the name "Turnespete". "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. The wheel was attached to a chain, which ran down to the spit. Sally Davis thinks the blue painted background and … The wheels were put up quite high on the wall, far from the fire in order for the dogs not to overheat and faint.". The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. "They were ugly little dogs with a quite morose disposition, so nobody wanted to keep them as pets. And historians say a turnspit was active in the kitchen of the Statehouse Inn in Philadelphia. The dogs were allowed to go with the family to church. We have a huge fireplace in an old Georgian kitchen. Source: Cunliffe, J (1991) 'The Turnspit'. By 1850 they had become scarce, and by 1900 they had disappeared. "In 1745, the owner of the Statehouse Inn advertised that he had turnspit dogs for sale. ", The turnspit was bred especially to run on a wheel that turned meat so it would cook evenly. Bondeson thinks possibly it's the Queen of England's favorite dog, the Welsh corgi. These little curtailed mongrels were the ones put into the wheels. I'm Caira Farrell, library and collections manager at the Kennel Club in London. And that's how the turnspit got its other name: vernepator cur, Latin for "the dog that turns the wheel.". Hundreds of dog breeds exist throughout the world, many bred for a specific purpose. INSKEEP: Our story on the turnspit dog was produced by the Kitchen Sisters and mixed by (unintelligible) - that's a broadcast term, not a cooking term. WILLIAM WOYS WEAVER: The Statehouse Inn was where all the old political cronies hung out for their slice of beef and their ale. Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur | WEMU One way of training the dog was to throw a glowing coal into the wheel to make the dog speed up a bit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. Posted by Diana at 1:45 PM. Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest. We look forward to seeing you! 20-22. Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur | KRWG It was the way that they used to differentiate between the dogs of the nobility and the dogs belonging to ordinary people. "They were referred to as the kitchen dog, the cooking dog or the vernepator cur," says Caira Farrell, library and collections manager at the Kennel Club in London. Coco, I think we've got to get you into the wheel. ", "Curtailed means they've got their tails cut off," Sally Davis, of the Abergavenny Museum, says. The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. "Turnspit dogs were viewed as kitchen utensils, as pieces of machinery rather than as dogs," says Bondeson. A taxidermy dog named Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. Possibly the Queen of England's favorite dog, the Welsh Corgi. Curtailed means they've got their tails cut off. The Kitchen Sisters You can find her at the Abergavenny Museum. UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You can do it. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog.". "The very first mention of them is in 1576 in the first book on dogs ever written. searching for Abergavenny Museum 3 found (16 total) alternate case: abergavenny Museum. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. William Bingley's Memoirs of British Quadrupeds (1809) also talks of a dog employed to help chefs and cooks. Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. "The roar of the fire. The availability of cheap spit-turning machines, called clock jacks, brought about the demise of the turnspit dog. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Wales, a small extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. ", We visit Lucy Worsley, chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces of London, at Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII, where a fire is roaring in the huge, old kitchen. My name is Sally Davis, custodian at Abergavenny Museum in Wales. BONDESON: Though a numerous kitchen dog wheel is kept in various museums, but the Abergavenny Museum has the only example of what a turnspit dog really looked like. "It became a stigma of poverty to have a turnspit dog," says author Bondeson. Turnspit dog (1,210 words) exact match in snippet view article find links to article the turnspit dog, 19th century, stuffed, at Abergavenny Museum Dog wheel turnspit, 18th century, from Coed Cernyw, Monmouthshire, at Abergavenny Museum It became the stigma of poverty to have a turnspit dog. "This bad treatment of dogs eventually led to the founding of the SPCA.". That’s an example of how people can breed animals to suit a specific need.” "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. Descriptions of the dogs paint a rather mutty picture: small, low-bodied, short, crooked front legs, with a heavy head and drooping ears. And historians say a turnspit was active in the kitchen of the Statehouse Inn in Philadelphia. The turnspit dog became extinct. My name's Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces of London. Not because of any concern for their spiritual education, but because the dogs were useful as foot warmers. They were referred to as the kitchen dog, the cooking dog or the vernepator cur. Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette had advertisements for turnspit dogs and wheels for sale. "Since medieval times, the British have delighted in eating roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey," says Jan Bondeson, author of Amazing Dogs, a Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, the book that first led us to the turnspit dog. The owner, in 1745, advertised spit dogs for sale. ", We visit Lucy Worsley, chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces of London, at Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII, where a fire is roaring in the huge, old kitchen. I'm Jan Bondeson. Sally Davis thinks the blue painted background and spray of artificial flowers in the case are a sign that someone really cared for her. The dogs were allowed to go with the family to church. "The very first mention of them is in 1576 in the first book on dogs ever written. You can find her at the Abergavenny Museum. Back at Abergavenny Museum, Whiskey, the last remaining turnspit, is a permanent fixture. "The Statehouse Inn was where all the old political cronies hung out for their slice of beef and their ale," author and food historian William Woys Weaver tells us. "In the 1850s, the founder of the [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] was appalled by the way the turnspit dogs were treated in the hotels of Manhattan," says Weaver. The small cooking canine was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in cavernous kitchen fireplaces. The clock jacks took over from the turnspit dogs. Image: The Kitchen Sisters In the 16th century, there was a dog breed known as the turnspit dog that was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain until the mid-1800s. Unless the skulking cur is caught, the sirloin's spoiled and I'm at fault. What we do know about turnspit dogs comes from drawings and a taxidermy turnspit named Whiskey at the Abergavenny museum in Wales. She has quite a distorted shape - that could be because of a bad taxidermy job or it could be that she was deformed over the course of her life because of her work. "In the 1850s, the founder of the [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] was appalled by the way the turnspit dogs were treated in the hotels of Manhattan," says Weaver. "Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869. This dog was named Whiskey. hide caption. Shop Amazon. Bondeson thinks possibly it's the Queen of England's favorite dog, the Welsh corgi. Shakespeare mentions them in his play The Comedy of Errors. Before the dogs, the fireplace spit was turned by the lowliest person in the kitchen staff, usually a small boy who stood behind a bale of wet hay for protection from the heat, turning the iron spit for hours and hours. In this country the dogs were basically used turning spit in large establishments in cities, like hotel kitchens. On Sunday, the turnspit dog often had a day off. This dog, named Whiskey, was preserved and stuffed perhaps by a first-time taxidermist. I think we're going to do something completely unprecedented here, aren't we. He once wrote, “Look at the spit dog. ", "Curtailed means they've got their tails cut off," Sally Davis, of the Abergavenny Museum, says. Coco didn't fare too well in the wheel. Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869. "The downtrodden, lumpen, proletariat turnspit cooking dogs may well be related to the queen's pampered royal pooches.". That's an example of how people can breed animals to suit particular needs.' The roar of the fire, the clanking of the spit, the patter from the little dog's feet. Back in the 16th century, many people preferred to cook meat over an open fire. Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Hannah Penn, the wife of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, wrote to England requesting that the dog wheel for her turnspits be sent. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. When any meat was to be roasted, one of these dogs was hoisted into a wooden wheel mounted on the wall near the fireplace. The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. Elsewhere in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette had advertisements for turnspit dogs and wheels for sale. But in the 16th century, the boys gave way to dogs. The dogs were allowed to come with the family to the church. There are actually a few records of turnspits being employed in America. ", What kind of dog today is the closest to a turnspit dog? The wheels were put up quite high on the wall, far from the fire in order for the dogs not to overheat and faint.". Whiskey is the only (purported) stuffed turnspit dog in the world. It was the zoologist Carl Linnaeus who named them Canis vertigus, Latin for "dizzy dog," because the dogs were turning all the time. “Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuff,” says Sally Davis, long-time custodian … "Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. Evidently he was also breeding them. Jan 17, 2017 - Hidden Kitchens Story #2: Turnspit Dogs: The Rise & Fall of the Vernepator Cur [audio: In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Wales, a small extinct dog … 'Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed,' says Sally Davis, long-time custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. As the dog ran, like a hamster in a cage, the spit turned. Additional features, photos, recipes and music can be found at kitchensisters.org. As for the Turnspit dog, the last known specimen was placed in a taxidermy exhibit at the Abergavenny Museum located in Wales. This bad treatment of dogs eventually led to the founding of the SPCA. "Not because of any concern for their spiritual education," says Bondeson, "but because the dogs were useful as foot warmers.". The dogs were strong and sturdy, capable of working for hours, and over time they evolved into a distinct breed. Photo: The Kitchen Sisters The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, are Peabody Award-winning independent producers who create radio and multimedia stories for NPR and public broadcast. hide caption. Some believe the turnspit dog is a relative of the Welsh corgi. "Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. There are actually a few records of turnspits being employed in America. 1576, the very first mention of them is in the first book on British dogs ever written. "They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. Back at Abergavenny Museum, Whiskey, the last remaining turnspit, is a permanent fixture. There you go. He said, look at the spit dog. Originally published on May 23, 2014 6:45 pm. "Whiskey," a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. JAN BONDESON: Since medieval times, the Britains have delighted in eating roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey. 'Whiskey' is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed. Universal History Archive/Getty Images Open-fire roasting required constant attention from the cook and constant turning of the spit. "This bad treatment of dogs eventually led to the founding of the SPCA.". CAIRA FARRELL: The turnspit was a breed of dog that was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. That's an example of how people can breed animals to suit particular needs.' In 1639, a tourist visiting Bristol, England remarked that there was scarce a house that hath not a dog to turn the spit. LUCY WORSLEY: The dinner must be dished at 1:00. DAVIS: Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed. To train the dog to run faster, a glowing coal was thrown into the wheel, Bondeson adds. During the 16th century they made the transition from small boys to dogs. Between Whiskey and a few sparse drawings here and there, we can … Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. Elsewhere in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette had advertisements for turnspit dogs and wheels for sale. But by 1850 they had become scarce, and by 1900 they had disappeared. There was a chain from the spit up to a wheel and in that wheel is a small dog running frenetically, causing the spit to turn. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog. You can see a picture of Whiskey at NPR.org. It was the zoologist Carl Linnaeus who named them Canis vertigus, Latin for "dizzy dog," because the dogs were turning all the time. The Turnspit dog was a short-legged, long-bodied dog bred to run on a wheel, called a turnspit or dog wheel, to turn meat. Lucy Worsley, chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces in London, attempted to roast on a spit powered by a dog in a wheel at the George Inn. Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. By 1850 they had become scarce, and by 1900 they had disappeared. The patter from the little dog's feet. Evidently he was also breeding them. Kennel Gazette, pp. Inside this wooden case is Whiskey the Turnspit dog. It is believed that this is the origin of the proverb 'every dog has his day.' Additional features, photos, recipes and music can be found at kitchensisters.org. The small cooking canine was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in cavernous kitchen fireplaces. BONDESON: On a Sunday, the turnspit dog often had a day off. Sally Davis thinks the blue painted background and … Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We're going to turn the spit with the dog in a wheel, which is something I know hasn't been done for about 200 years. ", The dogs were used in large hotel kitchens in America to turn spits. A turnspit was active at The Statehouse Inn in Philadelphia. The wheel was attached to a chain, which ran down to the spit. Charles Darwin often cited the turnspit dog as an example of selective breeding and genetic engineering. Descriptions of the dogs paint a rather mutty picture: small, low-bodied, short, crooked front legs, with a heavy head and drooping ears. Article from kpbs.org. This dog was named Whiskey. Abergavenny Museum houses the last known example of a turnspit dog, a breed bred for this purpose. Sally Davis thinks the blue painted background and spray of artificial flowers in the case are a sign that someone really cared for her. A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869. "They were referred to as the kitchen dog, the cooking dog or the vernepator cur," says Caira Farrell, library and collections manager at the Kennel Club in London. "The Statehouse Inn was where all the old political cronies hung out for their slice of beef and their ale," author and food historian William Woys Weaver tells us. The way she's posed, the taxidermy, I think, possibly was their first go. The boys' hands used to blister. Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images, London's Gardens: Allotments for the People, The Pizza Connection: Fighting The Mafia Through Food. ", The dog wheel circa 1890, drawn in E.F. King's Ten Thousand Wonderful Things. Coco didn't fare too well in the wheel. The Kitchen Sisters, producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, bring us this Hidden Kitchen's story from England, "Turnspit Dogs: The Rise and Fall of the Vernepator Cur.". The clanking of the spit. Abergavenny Museum is set in the grounds of a 'ruined' Norman Castle, where you can enjoy a picnic during the summer & a brisk walk on colder days. Turnspit dogs, they were viewed as kitchen utensils, as pieces of machinery. Our Hidden Kitchen series now reports on the saga of a sous chef who is also a dog. I think possibly it was their first go at it, I don't know. Stanley Coren, author of “ Paw Prints on History ,” describes them as having a “very similar body shape to a … .. ", Lucy Worsley, chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces in London, attempted to roast on a spit powered by a dog in a wheel at the George Inn. “Whiskey,” a taxidermied turnspit dog on display at the Abergavenny Museum in Wales. BONDESON: With time, mechanical spit turning machines called clock jacks, they became cheaper and cheaper as a result of mass production. In 1750 there were turnspits everywhere in Great Britain. But in the 16th century, the boys gave way to dogs. The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. The energy the dog generated was then used to power a mechanism that turned the meat cooking on a spit. Their Hidden Kitchens series travels the world, chronicling little-known kitchen rituals and traditions that explore how communities come together through food — from modern-day Sicily to medieval England, the Australian Outback to the desert oasis of California. Before the dogs, the fireplace spit was turned by the lowliest person in the kitchen staff, usually a small boy who stood behind a bale of wet hay for protection from the heat, turning the iron spit for hours and hours. I'm William Woys Weaver, author of several books on food ethnography. In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case. These days, however, the last pure turnspit dog, still fluffy and brown, currently rests in well-earned peace at Abergavenny Museum in Wales, as a taxidermy exhibit. These little curtailed mongrels were the ones put into the wheels. ", The turnspit was bred especially to run on a wheel that turned meat so it would cook evenly. These little curtailed dogs were the ones that were put into the wheel. He describes somebody as being a "curtailed dog fit only to run in a wheel. Turnspit dogs had gray and white fur. hide caption. Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly. “Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuff,” says Sally Davis, long-time custodian at the Abergavenny Museum. "Charles Darwin commented on the dogs as an example of genetic engineering," she tells us. "Not because of any concern for their spiritual education," says Bondeson, "but because the dogs were useful as foot warmers.". Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images. The downtrodden, lumpen, proletariat turnspit cooking dogs may well be related to the queen's pampered royal pooches. If they can turn a spit for me, they can also turn a churn for making butter. FARRELL: Interestingly, there are also a few records of turnspits being employed in America. The turnspit dogs became extinct. DAVIS: The George Inn in Wilshire has a unique spit roast, the only survivor of its type in the country. The dogs were strong and sturdy, capable of working for hours, and over time they evolved into a distinct breed. The clanking of the spit. I think possibly it was their first go at it, I don't know. There remains one single stuffed turnspit dog on display in the Abergavenny Museum. The breed appears to have died out with the advent of mechanisation in the kitchen. 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