Meet Jock VII: Winston Churchill’s newest lifelong Chartwell resident

Jock VII at Chartwell. Photo: International Churchill Society

While Larry, the Chief Mouser at 10 Downing Street, deservedly grabs most of the headlines these days in the British press, there’s another British cat the warrants a bit of ink (and, not just on page 3 of the The Sun).

England’s Winston Churchill gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the best known and effective dignitaries in the history of British politics with a career that spanned over six decades. While most everyone is well aware of his stoic and pragmatic persona (with his accompanying trademark cigar) during his years as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister which covered 1940-1945 and 1951-1955, there are many that are equally as unaware of his life-long affection for cats.

Both Churchill and his wife Clementine routinely had a housefull of dogs and cats, but it was the cats that Churchill seemed to be more drawn to over the years. Cats were a huge part of Churchill’s political and private life.

While Churchill’s most ‘streetwise’ cat, Nelson (named after Horatio Nelson), was by his side at 10 Downing Street, the cat most associated with Churchill was an orange marmalade cat with a white bib and four white paws named Jock that was given to him on his 88th birthday in 1962 by his private secretary, Sir John “Jock” Colville. So much so that it has been reported that the original ‘Jock’ was at Churchill’s bedside in 1964 when he passed away at the age of 90 at his London home at Hyde Park Gate.

Churchill’s love of cats has extended far beyond his death as while his will bequeathed his Chartwell country estate to the public in 1966, the gift came with a very important stipulation. Upon transferring the home to the National Trust for the public good, Churchill required that a marmalade cat named Jock always be permitted to live within its premises. Churchill’s ‘cat in perpetuity’ request has been honored by the National Trust for the almost 60 years since his death.

Obviously, the original Jock has long since passed but The National Trust recently installed Jock VII, a six-month-old rescue kitten from the RSPCA, at Chartwell in October 2020.

Viktoria Austen, Visitor Experience Manager at the National Trust property Chartwell, 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. 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.

For more information on Jock VII and Chartwell you can visit Chartwell garden is open daily, 10am-5pm. For a quieter visit and less competition to welcome Jock VII, Chartwell recommend booking for a visit from 2pm onwards. If you see Jock, tell him Larry says hey this holiday season.

Speaking of Mrs. Churchill, be on the lookout for a five-part drama currently in development based on the public and private life of Clementine Churchill, wife of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill that’s being developed for television by Masterpiece PBS. 

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