Cats are drawing hundreds more people to UK’s stately homes

One of the attractions to tourists visiting England are the stately homes of the rich upper classes. They want to see the fine rooms, antiques and furniture.

It appears that an added attraction is becoming very important for the owners of these properties which are often handed down through the family for hundreds of years.

Craig and Committee  at Grunby Hall
Craig and Committee at Gunby Hall. Photo: STEPHEN DANIELS/TELEGRAPH
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Growing numbers of visitors are attracted to the prospect of spotting the cats of the household meandering through the copious grounds or lounging on furniture worth a fortune.

An added advantage is that the cats bring in younger people too as the cats are often minor celebrities on social media.

Then there is the most important advantage of having a cat at home. The give the home a soul and a feeling of homeliness. Often these huge properties are in desperate need of just that, a feeling of being lived in and alive.

The National Trust said that several of the places that they manage have seen increases in visitor numbers because of the presence of the resident cats.

“We hope that they come away from their visit having not only spotted the famous cats themselves, but also discovering the many stories that lie behind the places in our care.”

Craig posing at Gunby Hall
Craig posing at Gunby Hall

For example, Grunby Hall has two housecoats; Craig and Committee. The cats have 6,500 followers on Instagram and 2,000 on Facebook and Twitter. They are the most followed cats in the National Trusts portfolio of posh properties.

The manager Grunby Hall, Astrid Gatenby, happened upon the commercial benefit of the cats by chance. When she posted photos of the cats roaming around the grounds online much more interest was shown in the photos than normal. The viewing figures went up dramatically.

This encouraged Astrid to pose the cats in the best spots around the home and take photos to promote the property.

The photos were shared online by thousands and it allowed Astrid to post more pictures which chronicled the day-to-day life of the cats.

Then people wanted to visit the cats to see them in real life. Grunby Hall is an hour’s drive east of Lincoln.

Ms Gatenby said:

“People certainly responded to the pictures. And there’s no doubt it’s added to our visitor numbers.”

Visitors numbers have grown tenfold over five years. Much of the success has been put down to the presence of these two online, feline celebs.

At another posh property, 13th-century Bishop’s Palace in Wells, eight-year-old Maisie is the resident feline and she lives in the gatehouse. She, too, has her own Facebook page.

Maisie has a book. She accompanies visitors and leads them around the palace.

Another successful stately home cat is Gina. She lives at the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate near Cambridge. Her preferred social media outlet is Twitter.

“She’s been photographed many times and she’s a star of the local paper too,” a spokesman for the Georgian estate told Your Cat magazine. “Visitors love to talk to her.”

Well, we cat lovers are not surprised to hear about this. Cats are the biggest thing on the internet. Cats make us feel better. The give a home a soul.

Here is a list of some of the artiso-cats of Britain’s stately homes:

  • Craig and Committee, at Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire
  • Maisie, at The Bishop’s Palace, Wells
  • Jock VI, at Chartwell House, Kent
  • Ginger and Gina, at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
  • Mr Chester, at Attingham Park, Shrewsbury
  • Ariel, at Coughton Court, Warks
  • Freddie, at Packwood House, Solihull
  • Tommy and Bella at Baddesley Clinton, Knowle, Solihull

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