The Only White (Albino) "Zoo" in
by Alfred Arkas
LORD ALINGTON'S QUAINT HOBBY.
The subject of eccentric hobbies is always fascinating, more especially
when the hobby-rider need spare neither time nor expense in humouring
his particular fancy.
From time to time we hope to give our readers some account of the many
curious and interesting hobbies pursued by those who are distinguished
in this direction, although it is doubtful if a more interesting example
than the Crichel White Farm is to be found.
The White Farm belongs to Lord Alington, whose name is better known in
connection with Turf matters. It was he who bred the immortal Common,
one of the grandest horses that ever won the Derby. Common was sold for
£15,000. The same week two other of Lord Alington's horses changed
hands, the three together making a record price of £39,000. These facts
are of peculiar interest in this connection, since the White Farm and
the Racing Stud Farm are practically the same, one being part and parcel
of the other.
Near the entrance to the White Farm there appears a long low building,
over which three flags are flying. This is one of the racehorse stables;
and the flags, which are of yellow silk, bear the names of three of
Mr. Bartlett, Lord Alington's trainer, is 74 years of age, and one of
the most successful men the turf has ever known. In spite of his age he
is as sprightly as a young man; and I should say many another "good 'un"
is to be expected from his hands.
Common's stable overlooks a portion of the White Farm, and is that seen
in the illustration of the white mule.
Crichel is situated six miles from Wimborne, in Dorsetshire. It is on
the edge of the New Forest.
On nearing the farm one gets the impression that there is something
unusual about the place. The long low stable buildings, the tall white
masts and bright yellow flags, numberless white-painted cages, aviaries,
outhouses, and the spotless white of the fencings and gateways, all lend
it a pleasing individuality.
On turning into the big White Farm gate one encounters the spectacle of
a teeming population of bird and animal life. All are pure white,
spotlessly clean, and you couldn't find a dark hair or feather if you
tried to do so.
"ALL ARE PURE WHITE, SPOTLESSLY CLEAN."
The only thing that seems to be missing at a first glance is a white
elephant; but the farm is that itself in a sense, as one may readily
imagine, when the difficulty of keeping it stocked is considered.
Although one could hardly conceive a more complete collection of white
birds and beasts, it is by no means so large or varied as in the past.
The mortality among what may be termed the "hot-house" species—the
birds and animals from tropical countries—was very great, and the
difficulty and expense of constantly replacing them was so considerable
that Lord Alington decided to dispense with them altogether.
The most striking creatures on the estate—and well they know it—are
the white peafowl. The many-coloured peacock with which we are familiar
is a beautiful bird, but I never saw anything in my life as perfect as
the white specimen at Crichel.
We were fortunate enough, by the exercise of the patience of Job, to
stalk one of these birds, and snap him in full war paint.
The photograph will give some idea of the beauty of the bird, but it
cannot convey any adequate notion of the rich silken texture of the
plumage, or the aristocratic stateliness of this beauty among beauties.
Built into the hedge close to the place where our snapshot of the white
peacock was taken, are several white cages devoted to some of the rarer
breeds of white pigeons and guinea pigs. At the extreme end are the
white rats and mice.
One of the rarest and most interesting members of the white family is
the mule—which is really much more like a pony in appearance—shown in
The poor brute has experienced many social vicissitudes; originally he
was the property of the "Shadow of God upon Earth," as the Sultan of
Turkey modestly styles himself.
When Lord Alington was visiting Constantinople, the Sultan, who had
heard of his hobby, presented the animal to him. The mule had not long
been installed at the White Farm, when a gentleman who drove a
four-in-hand of these animals was ordered abroad. He had a white mule in
his team which he sold to Lord Alington, and so the farm became
possessed of a pair.
"FANNY," THE WHITE DEER.
THE WHITE PEACOCK—THE KING OF THE WHITE FARM.
They were regularly used in harness till the death of the last-mentioned
purchase. Then, as the survivor threatened to die of inactivity and
crass laziness, he was given to the local baker, who uses him for the
work of distributing bread round the country-side.
WHERE THE SHAGGY GUINEA-PIGS LIVE.
From the Yildiz Kiosk to a country cart! How are the mighty fallen!
In a little paddock on the left-hand side of the entrance, a small but
most interesting collection of white animals attracts the attention of
the visitor. It consists of four superb Angora sheep and a pigmy bull.
A PRESENT FROM THE SULTAN TO LORD ALINGTON.
The pigmy bull has no history of any particular interest. But if he
lacks history, he has a temper—a temper with which it is useless to
argue. The photographer, with courage worthy of a better cause, leapt
light-heartedly into the paddock, with the trigger of his hand camera at
half cock. With a lightning movement he took aim, but the pigmy was too
quick for him. He charged our harmless snapshotter, who, "retiring in
confusion," as the war correspondents say, made for the fence and fell
over it, camera and all, only half a second before the infuriated
animal's head rammed furiously into the iron railings. A moment's
hesitation and these photographs had never seen publication. The
photograph of the bull we reproduce was taken immediately after the
adventure. Tiny as the animal is, it is not a creature to be trifled
with. As a matter of fact the brute had a bad fit of tantrums during
the rest of the day, and the last sound we heard as we wended our way
through the quiet lanes that evening was the angry bellowing of offended
THE PIGMY BULL—NOT LARGER THAN A NEWFOUNDLAND DOG—AND
THE WHITE ANGORA SHEEP.
FEEDING TIME OF THE PIGEONS, FOWLS, AND TURKEYS
In endeavouring to get a snapshot of Fanny, the white deer, we had quite
a different experience. With the modesty and timidity characteristic of
the breed, she was strongly opposed to the idea of being photographed.
She literally flew round the paddock for some time after our entrance,
and I was very much afraid we should have to give her up as a hopeless
However, by the exercise of great patience we were enabled to get a
snapshot as she stood nervously surveying us from a dark corner. Fanny
is one of the beauties of the farm; she is on the most friendly terms
with her keeper, and follows him about like a dog. Needless to say, she
has not a dark hair in her coat.
An even greater expenditure of time and ingenuity was necessary in
photographing the smaller denizens of Lord Alington's Zoo.
Your ordinary guinea pig is a nervous fellow at best; the white variety
suffers from hyper-sensitiveness. Over and over again, by frequent
offerings of the most tempting dainties, were the shaggy bright-eyed
little creatures lured from their haunts. But no matter how stealthily
stalked by the camera fiend, they were off like greased lightning long
before he was near enough; which circumstance explains why only two of
these interesting little pets appear in the vicinity of the runs. At one
time during my visit I saw the small paddock devoted to their use simply
alive with them.
The White Farm guinea pigs are much larger than the ordinary cavies kept
by most of us in boyhood days, and the coat is long and shaggy. Save for
the head they are more like pigmy Angora sheep than anything.
For much the same reason we were unable to photograph more than a small
corner of the rabbit run. It literally teems with pure white rabbits,
but they are not used to visitors, and their native modesty makes them
shun the camera like the plague. Only three or four braved the ordeal,
but as they are much like their companions, one has only to multiply
them indefinitely to obtain some idea of what the run looks like when in
The title "King of the White Farm" undoubtedly belongs to the peacock.
You have only to glance at him to realise that he is equally certain of
But there is another gentleman—the white turkey cock—on the estate who
obviously does not share this view, and, were it not for the fact that
his consummate vanity renders him blissfully unconscious of his
colleague's pretensions, I imagine there would be war. Certainly the
turkey cock is a beautiful and stately creature. He was purchased by
Lord Alington for £10.
Needless to say, all the ducks and fowls are of the prevailing colour,
and very fine birds they are. Even the pigs must turn grey or get
themselves bleached if they wish to take up permanent quarters at
The pigeons interested me more than anything else in the place, possibly
on account of their number, and intelligence. The whole farm is alive
with them, and the sight of the colony whirling in mid-air above their
cotes is one not readily forgotten.
SOME HUMBLE MEMBERS OF THE GREAT WHITE FAMILY.
They cross the sun like a white cloud, and when they swoop downwards to
the ground the air vibrates with the hum of whirling wings. They have a
trick of sitting along the coping tiles of the roof in single file like
a company of soldiers drawn up in line, and on one occasion I saw some
hundreds resting so closely together in this fashion that there was not
room for a sparrow between them the whole length of the roof.
They are perfectly tame, and are the most knowing-looking rascals I have
ever seen. Feeding time is a great institution, and, to my mind, is the
most fascinating sight on the farm.
They know their dinner hour to the second, and some time before it is
due the air is white with returning stragglers.
The ceremony is interesting enough to justify several illustrations, but
we can find room for only one. Preparatory to the all-important
function, the birds collect in their hundreds on the roofs of the
adjoining buildings. A few seconds later the more impatient spirits
among them fly to the ground and move restlessly about near the door
from which they know the attendant will emerge.
Directly the man appears they swarm round him as he makes his way into
the middle of the grass plot where the food is scattered.
There is not a single feather in any one of the birds which is not of
the purest white. A dark feather seals the doom of its unfortunate
owner. However, this is a rare event. Possibly the birds conspire to
preserve uniformity of colour by plucking alien shades from each other's
plumage before they are noticed by the keeper.
If space would permit, one might illustrate many other interesting
features of the White Farm, but enough has been said to give a general
notion of the charm and interest of Lord Alington's fascinating hobby.