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New marmalade kitten Jock arrives at Chartwell to continue the Churchill tradition of a ginger cat in residency

A new resident has moved in to Sir Winston Churchill's family home who is going to leave visitors feline good.

Jock VII had to fit Churchill's exact requirements to be allowed to live at the National Trust property in Westerham - he had to be a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white paws.

Six-month-old Jock VII at Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen
Six-month-old Jock VII at Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen

The Churchill family had left the request that a marmalade cat named Jock should always live at Chartwell after leaving the home to the trust in 1966, after Churchill received the original Jock as a birthday present from one of his private secretaries, Sir John ‘Jock’ Colville, and was named after him.

The trust has always honoured the request and now six-month-old rescue kitten Jock VII is the latest to continue the line.

Previously known as Sunshine, he was rescued by the RSPCA along with 30 other cats living in squalid conditions, before being adopted by Chartwell’s visitor experience manager, Viktoria Austen.

The kittens were weak and undernourished but were young enough to be brought back to health quickly. Jock was the most confident of the whole group and so was perfect for his new high-profile role.

Jock VII is settling in to Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen
Jock VII is settling in to Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen

His predecessor, Jock VI had gone almost blind and was finding life at Chartwell very hard so the decision was made to retire him from public life after his six years' service. He is now enjoying the life of a former celebrity with Chartwell’s house and collections manager in a nearby village.

Viktoria said: “Jock VII has had a difficult start to his life, but he is very lucky to come to our loving home. He has already made friends and started to explore the 80 acres that Chartwell has to offer him.

Jock VII is making himself at home at Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen
Jock VII is making himself at home at Chartwell Picture: National Trust/Liam Austen

“He is a friendly, delightful kitten who enjoys taking naps in the various suntraps of Chartwell and chasing butterflies around the borders. We’re certain he will bring joy to our visitors.”

She added: “Jock is settling into his residency and has developed a mischievous character. His favourite pastimes are investigating what the gardeners are up to and trying to persuade people to

give him snacks. He also likes lots of cuddles on the sofa after an eventful day. Jock’s newest trick is jumping out of bushes and planting to introduce himself to unsuspecting visitors”

For more on Chartwell visit nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell. Its gardens are open daily, from 10am to 5pm. For a quieter visit and less competition to welcome Jock, Chartwell recommend booking for a visit from 2pm onwards.

For more about venues across Kent which have reopened click here.


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