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Spotlight on: Chartwell

PUBLISHED: 17:12 11 December 2015 | UPDATED: 17:13 11 December 2015

Jock VI with his own statue

Jock VI with his own statue

Archant

At the National Trust in Kent, animals are firmly in the festive spotlight this Christmas.

WE know from experience that animals have great festive appeal – and at the National Trust in Kent, animals are firmly in the spotlight.

A very special marmalade cat takes centre stage at Chartwell, featuring in his own calendar, while two loyal canine companions have inspired a new family trail at Scotney Castle.

Model cat

Jock VI took up his residence at Chartwell in 2014, in accordance with the wishes of the Churchill family that a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white paws should always live there.

This request was made in memory of the marmalade cat named Jock given to Sir Winston Churchill for his 88th birthday in 1962 by his private secretary, Sir John ‘Jock’ Colville.

Sir Winston loved Jock, who quickly became a constant 
presence by his side. He attended many meetings with him and was treated like a proper member of the family, regularly fed cream at the table.

Although Sir Winston only enjoyed three Christmases with Jock before he died aged 90, it is likely that the cat featured prominently in the family’s festivities. Jock lived at Chartwell until his own death in 1974, when he was buried in the pet cemetery in the grounds.

And 21 years later his successor, Jock VI, has settled beautifully into his new home. He definitely rules the roost, patrolling the grounds regularly and enjoying cuddles with owner, Katherine Barnett, who is Chartwell’s house and collections manager.

Jock VI has become extremley popular with staff and visitors alike, and he even has his own page on Facebook, which features photos and updates from his daily life.

This year Jock VI is the subject of a brand-new calendar for 2016. Every month he stars in a different picture showing aspects of Chartwell throughout the year.

The calendars are proving popular with visitors and have been flying off the gift shop shelves already.

 Chartwell opens to visitors daily in December (not 24 and 25 December) and is running a varied programme of festive events, from Sunday roasts and Christmas lunches (various dates, please check online) to family events and visits from Father Christmas (5 and 6 Dec, book in advance on 01732 861159).

The gift shop will also be open, selling a new collection of gifts inspired by Jock VI. As well as his calendars, there are also Jock VI tea towels, magnets, biscuits, marmalade, fudge, coasters, mugs, puppets and jewellery available in the Chartwell shop.

Follow those dogs

Over at Scotney Castle, two dogs are providing the inspiration for an informative festive trail, taking visitors all around the grounds for a fascinating insight into family life at the country estate.

Badger and Pepper were owned by Brigadier-General Arthur Hussey, who rose to become Commander, Royal Artillery, of the 5th Division during the First World War. Arthur was the son of Edward Hussey III, who built the Victorian mansion house at Scotney Castle and created a romantic folly in its grounds by partly demolishing the original medieval castle and redesigning the surrounding gardens.

Arthur was very fond of both his dogs. They enjoyed a happy life at Scotney Castle, with full run of the grounds and the glorious Kent countryside, which they explored with their devoted master.

Pepper died at the age of 12 in 1895 and Pepper at 14 years old the year after. They are buried in the grounds at Scotney Castle.

Badger and Pepper were such an intrinsic part of life at Scotney Castle for Arthur and his family, that the team at Scotney Castle felt it fitting to base their 2015 winter and Christmas trail around them. The trail will lead visitors to various points on the estate, including the ice house, old castle and moat, pleasure gardens and terrace.

Trail participants will read about how each area was used by the Hussey family, and how Badger and Pepper were involved. They will also receive special Badger and Pepper gingerbread biscuits as prizes for completing the trail; perfect for evoking the Christmas spirit.

● Scotney Castle opens daily in December (excluding Christmas Eve and Day), including the house and old castle, garden, tea shop, gift shop and wider estate. Animal-themed souvenirs will be available for unusual Christmas gifts, or a fun reminder of Badger and Pepper’s trail.

FIND OUT MORE

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast for more information and details of winter and Christmas activities and events taking place in Kent and across the south east. Hapy Christmas, everyone!

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