Tails of the National Trust

PUBLISHED: 05:08 15 December 2014

Charlie Labrador and Jan Brookes-Bullen, Blickling Hall

Charlie Labrador and Jan Brookes-Bullen, Blickling Hall


Jan Brookes-Bullen, house manager at Blickling Hall, tells us about Labrador Charlie.

Meggie - Blickling HallMeggie - Blickling Hall

When Charlie arrived six years I hoped he would provide security and friendship, as I was living in the house manager’s flat on my own, and exercise, to get me out and about into the park. Charlie has provided so much more.

He was eight months old and I was his second mum. His first day, he walked into Blickling grounds and took ownership immediately. Blickling became Charlie’s kingdom. He became not only a member of my family but a member of the National Trust team.

He has his own National Trust badge as a meeter-greeter. He carefully mops up all biscuit crumbs in the volunteers’ room and befriends all who come through the door. At night he patrols the grounds before bedtime and in times of emergencies he wears his own hi-vis jacket.

Millie in bluebells, BlakeneyMillie in bluebells, Blakeney

He is loved by visitors, staff and volunteers, but not by the two cats Reuben and Meg who live in the next flat. Three years after he arrived I married Dave, so Charlie now has a mum and a dad. We all love Charlie and long may his kingdom reign.

Kenny Gray, house steward at Blickling Hall, is the owner of Reuben and Meg, the two cats that compete with Charlie for the title of cutest pet at Blickling.

Graham Brennan and Barnie, Sheringham ParkGraham Brennan and Barnie, Sheringham Park

Reuben and Meg spend their days lounging in my flat, here at Blickling Hall. Their favourite place is the window sill in the sitting room, where they can look out and watch what’s going on in the garden. I inherited them from a previous house manager, who had raised them from kittens after finding them in the garden with their stray mother. They live the perfect life as far as a cat’s life can go, with only one dog-shaped cloud in the flat above, Charlie, the house manager’s dog.

Damson, Peckover HouseDamson, Peckover House

Allison Napier, gardener in charge at Peckover House, just across the Norfolk border in Wisbech, tells us about Peckover’s cats Damson and Algernon.

Damson and Algernon are cared for by the gardeners and have a special cat flap into the potting shed which is a warm place for them to retire to on cold evenings, although they do spend a lot of time with us in the gardeners’ office – especially at lunch times! They also like to drop in on the Reed Barn courtyard when visitors are eating outside in the summer.

A strange relationship has emerged with the blackbirds we feed outside the potting shed: The birds have become very bold and will go into the shed to take the cat food rather than the bird food. Both cats seem to accept this and are possibly intimidated by the birds – they are often seen to back off from their bowls as the birds get closer and closer!

Algie, Peckover HouseAlgie, Peckover House

Marilyn Lubbock and husband Graham work at Blakeney National Nature Reserve. Their dog Millie joins them every day.

We bought Millie in July 2002 but were unable to have her home with us until after she had received all her injections, as Graham was working with the seal virus which affected the seal colony off Blakeney Point.

Millie has been coming in to the office here at Blakeney for 12 years. She loves people, and the children at the village school love to see her when they have activities with the National Trust. Millie loves getting out and about along the Norfolk coast, riding in the Land Rover with the rangers, visiting the bluebells at Bullfer Grove, swimming in the sea, visiting Blakeney Point after the breeding bird season, and enjoying refreshing walks.

Sheringham Park ranger and horticulturalist Graham Brennan brings his dog Barnie to work.

Barnie is great company for me when I am out in the park, working on my own. Also we have a lot of dog walkers and when they see my dog they are more inclined to stop and have a chat, so it is a great ice-breaker. He also spends a lot of time in the workshop with the staff and volunteers. He gets lots of fusses and attention and they get some “fur therapy” from Barnie, so everybody wins!

The winners of our Trust Your Knowledge competition in the August issue are:

First prizes of a family pass to use at any National Trust property - Helen Lloyd, Marham; M Brockes, Norwich; Pat and Alan Evans, Downham Market; Ben Sanderson and Victoria Pickles, Normanton, Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan, St Albans.

Runners-up prizes of a cream tea: Anne Willmoth, Norwich; Howard Mattocks, Norwich; Belinda Mattocks, Norwich; A J Clark, Ware; Judith Naunton, Long Stratton; James and Kavita Pickles, Cheadle Hulme.

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