Tag Archives: Chartwell

Sir Winston’s Cat


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  https://castlesandcoffeehouses.com/2014/09/12/the-bulldog-an…-marmalade-cat/


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!

The Bulldog and the Marmalade Cat




Photo from Daily Mail article cited below

Photo from Daily Mail article cited below

When the family of Sir Winston Churchill left the family’s country estate, Chartwell, in the care of England’s National Trust organization in 1966, there was an important condition:  there must always be a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white socks, and the cat’s name must always be Jock.

Jock V recently retired to the Scottish countryside when his person, a staff member at Chartwell, retired.  Jock VI just took up residence.

I’ve been reading a biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, by William Manchester. The man who stood up to Nazi tyranny when the situation seemed hopeless had a very unhappy childhood.  His parents, Randolph Churchill and the American Jennie Jerome, were socially and politically prominent–and they had very little time for their son.  They wrote him off as a dullard, not even fit for university.  Instead he went into the military–a choice that later served him well.  As a child of only seven years old, WInston was put on a train all by himself and sent off to an expensive but abusive boarding school where he was miserable.  He only escaped two years later, when he had a chance to show his beloved childhood nanny the welts he carried from regular beatings. He rebelled against authority all through his childhood and young adulthood, even as he pursued his own political ambitions.

When Sir Winston had his own family, he wanted to create a happy home life.  Jock the marmalade cat was part of that secure, loving home Sir Winston wanted to provide for his own family.  I’m hoping to meet Jock VI when I travel to England soon. I’ll salute the man whose own struggles taught him to be both tough and tender.