NOSTALGIA: A rich cat’s life for Billy

Billy the cat
Billy the cat

An unusual tale from Chichester’s archives - a stray cat which wandered into a wealthy Aldwick woman’s home was included in her £47,000 will.

When Miss Alice Julia Stacey died on December 16 in 1968 she left £1 a week to cover the “food requirements” of her cat, Billy.

Miss Stacey, of Oakfield, 4, Gossamer Lane in Aldwick, expressed the wish that Billy should be looked after by Mrs Nellie Tooze of Hammer Cottage, Aldwick, and left Mrs Tooze and her husband Charles - who was also known as Billy - £500 each.

“But.” said Mrs Tooze, “I don’t know that the allowance will cover Billy’s food.

“She’s a funny cat - she’ll only eat tinned salmon and the fresh fish we get for her twice a week.”

She told an Observer reporter how the stray Billy, by then about seven years old, walked into Miss Stacey’s house soon after the death of another cat.

“Miss Stacey’s last cat was called Billy, so this one got the same name,” said Mrs Tooze.

“Now I’ve told my husband he must change his name - every time I call to him, the cat comes.”

She said that if provision had not been made for her, Billy would have had to be destroyed. But thanks to the will, Billy was now secure, and her supply of tinned salmon and fresh fish was assured. She joined a household which includes two other cats and a parrot.

In the picture, Billy is shown as she washes her paws fastidiously before tucking into a mouth-watering dish of red salmon.

Clearly a very high maintenance cat.

Miss Stacey left £47,600 16s. gross, £47,565 11s net (duty £8, 736).

Included in the will was £500 left to Mr Lionel Parkinson of Gossamer Lane, Aldiwck, an esecutor of the estate, as weall as £100 each to the RSPCA, the NSPCC, and the Missions to Seaman, £100 to Dr A R Gray of Glenbrook House, Barrack Lane, Bognor Regis, and £20 to each person in her service for at least one year at her death and not under notice.

Meanwhile, a “lost rubber stamp” was reported to be holding up plans for the new church hall at South Bersted.

The Church needed permission from the Secretary of State for Education and Science to acquire a strip of land which was part of the parish’s School House garden.

Mr G H Denham, a member of the Church’s Standing Committee, said: “Our solicitors feel that the consent of the Secretary for State can almost be counted upon.

“But that gentleman seems to have mislaid his rubber stamp”.

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