HE has provided continuity in a tumultuous political era, charmed world leaders and is (almost) universally loved by all on Downing Street. Yet, despite his nonpartisan character, the fur still flies from time to time. Larry the cat has been chief mouser since 2011, when David Cameron recruited the brown-and-white tabby from Battersea. Now 14, Larry has clocked up a decade in office and is serving his third prime minister. He might be the first feline to be bestowed with an official title, but he’s not the only political fat cat (a recent memo warned that Larry is suffering from the dreaded lockdown spread, ‘too many Dreamies’). Mousers have managed Government pest control for centuries, with the role ‘professionalised’ in 1929, when Whitehall staff sought permission for a penny-a-day allowance for the maintenance of the post.
Over the following years, more cats joined the payroll, receiving the odd wage increase in response to requests, such as that from one Mrs Law, in 1948, who wrote: ‘Please is it possible for the office cats’ food money to be increased as it is impossible to buy a week’s food for 1/6.’ Unlike previous mousers, Larry does not receive a salary from the taxpayer —instead, his keep is paid for by Downing Street wellwishers.
The influence of the paw patrol increased after one No 10 cat, Peter III, appeared on the BBC programme Tonight in 1958, blazing a trail for Larry’s public profile. When the moggy died in 1964, having served five prime ministers, he was buried in a pet cemetery and given a marble headstone.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
In search of beauty
A publisher, innovator and shrewd businessman with strong connections to the Liberal political establishment, Edward Hudson was the visionary founder of COUNTRY LIFE 125 years ago. Clive Aslet revisits his remarkable life
The architectural conscience of the nation
Michael Hall, a former Architectural Editor and Deputy Editor of COUNTRY LIFE, looks back at the magazine’s formation of its architectural coverage from 1897 to 1939
The late blooming of a ‘saintly clergyman'
After a lifetime of quietly sketching wildflowers, parish priest William Keble Martin finally published the book every schoolboy wanted, says Matthew Dennison
Nowhere else can gardeners see rare named snowdrops growing in such measureless drifts as in the Rothschilds’ private garden at Eythrope in Buckinghamshire, finds Mary Keen
Loved back to life
Fulbeck House, Lincolnshire The home of Claire Van Cleave. This little-known house of about 1700 has been the subject of tactful restoration for a period of more than 20 years. Jeremy Musson looks at its fascinating history
The Queen's lost library
New research offers fresh insight into the splendid interiors of Queen Caroline’s library, a compact building by William Kent that once overlooked London’s Green Park, reveals Rufus Bird
Polly wants an apple
Ring-necked parakeets have made themselves at home across London and beyond, but how did these birds come to swap tropical climes for our grey shores, asks Claire Jackson
It's party time
From the smartest country estates to the capital’s most glamorous hotels, securing the dream wedding venue should be your first priority
Lost villages, factory villages, tourist villages, Georgian villages: these pieces of England all have their own story to tell. Archaeologist Ben Robinson chooses his top 10
Lands of plenty
From £2 million to £20 million properties, 2021 was a stellar year for sales of farms and estates
FEDS BURY JACKIE'S JFK MURDER TAPES!
Why they'll stay secret for ANOTHER 45 years
AN INSTRUCTOR'S LEGACY
LARRY DEAN OLSEN IS WIDELY CONSIDERED THE 'FATHER' OF PRIMITIVE SKILLS TRAINING.
SIMONE SPEWS BILE OVER NASSAR COVER-UP
TEARFUL Olympic gymnastics great Simone Biles broke down during her heartrending testimony on Capitol Hill as she accused the FBI of covering up the crimes of disgraced doctor and convicted kiddie-toucher Larry Nassar!
COMING TO FRUITION
Brooks Lee blossoms into a top draft prospect under his father’s tutelage at Cal Poly
Google Founder Gets New Zealand Residency, Raising Questions
Google co-founder Larry Page has gained New Zealand residency, officials confirmed, stoking debate over whether extremely wealthy people can essentially buy access to the South Pacific country.
Windows 365 launches Microsoft's Cloud PC era
How will Microsoft’s Cloud PC impact notebook PCs for business?
Who's Pulling the Strings?
A celebration of the puppets that have always lived among us.
Those Times I Failed Horribly
A couple months ago I took one of journalism’s greatest risks: I wrote a column listing a number of people I’d met who had since passed away, and of course, one of them had not.
RICHARD LEWIS HOBBLES BACK TO ‘CURB'
FRAIL funnyman Richard Lewis is making a heroic return to “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” for his pal, series creator and star Larry David!
The Benefits of Working Longer
Delaying retirement for a couple of years—or even a few months— is the most effective way to improve your retirement security.