Seven attractions for cat lovers in the South East
If you live in the South East of the UK, or are thinking of visiting in the near future, then make sure you pay these attractions for cat lovers a visit!
1. Scotney Castle
The last resident of 14th-century Scotney Castle, Betty Hussey was a devoted cat lover and Your Cat subscriber, and always had a cat living with her at the castle. Her last cat, Puss, was left to the National Trust when Betty died, and the house is full of cat memorabilia including artwork, ceramics, books and even back issues of Your Cat magazine!
At the age of 19, Puss sadly passed away in December 2015 and the current queen of the castle, five-year-old rescue moggy Betsy, arrived in February 2016. Settling nicely into her new fairytale life, Betsy can often be found in the castle and gardens surveying her grounds!
Location: Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 8JN
Contact: Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotneycastle or tel. 01892 893820.
This romantic 12th-century house and gallery is set in beautiful riverside gardens containing a national collection of old-fashioned roses — the perfect spot for a lucky kitty to laze in! Estate cat Murphy can often be found controlling the crowds at events and assisting with visitors’ picnics.
Although, most of the time, this cheeky tabby can be found snoozing in the house and sunbathing on the manicured lawns!
Location: Mottisfont Lane, Romsey, Hants. SO51 0LP
Contact: Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont or tel. 01794 340757.
3. Chartwell House
When the Churchill family left their former home to the National Trust in 1966, they requested that a marmalade cat named Jock, with a white bib and four socks, would always be in comfortable residence — and three-year-old Jock VI is the latest feline charge!
Previously featured in the June 2014 issue of Your Cat, rescue moggy Jock has the run of the grounds and lives in the attic rooms of the house with collections manager, Katherine Barnett. Although he wanders far and wide, this cheeky kitty often sneaks into the house to kip under Lady Clementine’s bed!
Location: Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent TN16 1PS
Contact: Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell or tel. 01732 868381.
4. National Cat Centre
Cats Protection’s National Cat Centre is home to the UK’s largest cat adoption centre and makes a great free day out. Open seven days a week, there is a cafe with children’s play area, gift shop and a stunning nature trail through the surrounding Ashdown Forest.
Finally, no trip is complete without visiting the cats in the charity’s care, with around 150 cats and kittens looking for new homes.
Location: Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, Sussex
Contact: Visit www.cats.org.uk or tel. 01825 741900.
5. Osborne House
Built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat on the Isle of Wight, stunning Osborne House is a must-see — and not just for a glimpse of royal family life! Osborne’s resident tabby, aptly named Victoria, rules over the estate and is looked after by staff — we hear she’s particularly fond of Osborne’s security team and often follows them around the site!
A stroll through the garden terraces and the royal couple’s private apartments makes this a trip to remember.
Location: York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight PO32 6JX
Contact: Visit www.englishheritage.org.uk/visit/places/osborne or tel. 01983 200022.
6. The Big Cat Sanctuary
The Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s Big Cat Sanctuary is a breeding centre for endangered cats and provides a tranquil sanctuary for retired big cats in Smarden, Kent. The foundation is home to over 50 cats, from the world’s largest — the majestic Amur tiger — to the world’s most endangered, the elusive Amur leopard.
Although not open to the general public, visitors can book exclusive big cat experiences including tours, ranger days, photography days, adoptions and an overnight big cat safari and lodge experience.
Location: Headcorn Road, Smarden, Ashford, Kent TN27 8PJ
Contact: Visit www.whf.org.uk or tel. 01233 771915.
7. Canterbury Cathedral
Several cats have lived in the homes around the Canterbury Cathedral Precincts and most have achieved fame at some point in their lives — mainly for curling up in a secret spot during services! Current feline resident Tilly, who is featured on a tea towel sold in the cathedral shop, belongs to the cathedral’s assistant organist and is a regular sight around the Precincts!
Location: Canterbury, Kent CT1 2EH
Contact: Visit www.canterbury-cathedral.org or tel. 01227 76286.