Winston Churchill had a soft spot for cigars, women and… ginger kittens. On his 88th birthday, one of his secretaries, Jock Colville, gave him a ginger kitten with white paws as a surprise. Churchill fell in love. He named the kitten Jock, after his secretary, and was photographed often in the company of this charming marmalade feline.
Of all of Sir Winstonís cats, Jock was truly one of his favorites and was often found contentedly lounging on Churchillís knee. Churchill would always take Jock with him when he traveled between his London and country home in Chartwell. On Sir Churchillís last visit to the House of Commons, he is photographed departing his home with Jock watching in the background.
Sir Winston passed away at his London house at the ripe old age of 90 in 1965, and with his passing, his country estate in Chartwell was bequeathed to a National Trust – and with it, Jock, the ginger kitty. Jock continued to have the run of the estate which included lounging by the fireplace just as he did in the company of his master when Churchill was alive. The public loved him.
Jock also lived to the ripe old age of 13 and when he passed in 1975, the National Trust frantically began searching for a new ginger and white kitten. Why? Before his death, Churchill requested that a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white paws named Jock always grace the halls and grounds of his Chartwell country estate. A replacement kitty was quickly found and named Jock II.
The tradition continues today with the announcement of the recent arrival of Jock VI – and will as long as the National Trust controls the property.
The most recent Jock (pictured above) was found at a local shelter after living on the streets as a stray, and embodies a true rags-to-riches story. He now takes afternoon naps near the fireplace or in the garden, eats fresh tuna, and lounges on Persian rugs. He even has his own cat-flap approved by the inspector of historical buildings. A Chartwell staff member commented that†Jock VI “is a very affectionate cat and has trained the Chartwell staff very well. He spends most of his day sleeping on various chairs and beds…”
Of course, visitors to the historic home are always on the look-out for Jock IV, and when they find him bestow rubs and chin-scratches on the lucky feline. †If you visit Churchillís historic estate in Kent about 25 miles outside of London, you are likely to see this pampered kitty too, another living legacy of the great man Churchill was.
Sir Winston called Chartwell home from 1924 until his death in 1965.†The National Trust has kept the Chartwell estate exactly as it was when Churchill lived there – including always having one marmalade cat in residence.
* Photos are courtesy of the Chartwell National Trust.