When I was planning my trip to England, I read about the new kitten that recently took up residence at Chartwell, the country home of Sir Winston Churchill. When Churchill’s family gave the property to the National Trust to become a museum in 1966, they specified that there must always be on the property a marmalade cat with a white bib and white boots. Sir Winston had owned such a cat for many years. The Chartwell cat must always be named “Jock,” after the family’s beloved pet. Jock V recently retired to Scotland, and the perfect Jock VI was located in a local animal shelter. I wrote about Sir WInston’s unhappy childhood and his determination to create a happy home for his own children in a previous post, “The Bulldog and the Marmalade Cat” at
When I visited Chartwell yesterday, I searched for Jock in the Rose Garden, the woodland walkways, beside the pond with the black swans, and in the flower beds beside Sir Winston’s painting studio. I was leaving, disappointed, when who should spring right into my path?
Jock had his eye on something in the shrubbery.
He perched on a branch, watching the ground intently and switching his orange-and-white-striped tail.
Then he turned around and very briefly glanced at me, the tourist excitedly taking his picture. Jock certainly has some of Sir WInston’s charisma and supreme self-confidence. I also think some of Sir Winston’s political acumen has already rubbed off on Jock. He is a busy cat with countless demands on his time. But like any good politician, he took a moment to pose for me. He showed off the “target” design on his side that marks him as a classic tabby.
Sir Winston Churchill was a soldier, a statesman, a Nobel prize-winning writer, and a great orator who led his country to victory over seemingly insurmountable odds. His childhood was lonely and unhappy; his father actively disliked him and never missed an opportunity to tell him that he would never amount to anything. His beautiful mother rarely paid him any attention. Young Winston was ambitious and ruthless in getting what he wanted, but he was also far more compassionate than either of his parents. He was a loving family man with a soft spot for a marmalade cat. I feel that I know Sir Winston better than I did before.
Maybe Jock wanted to get closer? Maybe he fancied being scratched behind his ears? No such luck. Jock was needed elsewhere. The entire estate is his responsibility. Off he went at a gallop. No matter. He made my day!