Archive pictures shows Dorset beginnings of animal sanctuary

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Ferne House with residents
Ferne House with residents

 

Those with long memories and possible local ancestry may well remember when Ferne Estate, located in the parish of Donhead St Andrew, operated as an animal sanctuary, owned and run by the late Nina, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon.

Ferne Estate animal sanctuary founder Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, with some of her beloved dogs
Ferne Estate animal sanctuary founder Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, with some of her beloved dogs

The animal sanctuary was founded at the start of the Second World War in 1939, providing refuge for more than 6,000 pets during the war years – many of whom lost their owners during this time.

Today, Ferne Animal Sanctuary still survives, largely adhering to the principles laid down by its founder, although since 1975 it has been based near Chard in Somerset.

Last year it celebrated its 80th anniversary, an event in which they took great pride. The sanctuary has a small archive of material covering aspects of its history and volunteers are trying to gather as much information, archives and photographs as they can – particularly material relating to the years between 1939 and 1975 – for a new book, which will raise funds for the charity.

Feeding time at Ferne Animal Sanctuary
Feeding time at Ferne Animal Sanctuary

Spokesman Sarah Cutler said: “As the Duchess sadly passed away in 1951 the survival of Ferne Animal Sanctuary during subsequent years would not have been possible without the hard work and loyalty of so many people and we feel that they too deserve to be remembered for the part they played in our history. To this end we are calling on the people and families of Shaftesbury and surrounding areas, requesting your help in sharing with us any recollections pertinent to the early years of our small but greatly loved sanctuary.”

“Names of individuals do survive: Mr Joe Allen, who was with the Ferne Estate for more than 30 years and took particular responsibility for the horses and cattle and his assistant Mr Eric Butt.”

Estate animal sanctuary founder Nina and two horses which were saved from slaughter after the mechanisation of the dust carts
Nina and two horses which were saved from slaughter after the mechanisation of the dust carts

“Other names that are recalled are Mr E. Roberts, Mr J. Scammel, Mr D. Davidge, Mrs Joan Reynolds, Mrs May Clapp, Miss Peggy Reid, Miss B. Broms, Miss Avril Tucker, Miss Ann Wigger, Miss Joy Tanner, Miss Betty Clarke, Margaret Barrett and Miss Mollie Atherton (Superintendent).”

“Any relevant material or lingering memories of the part they, and others, played would be greatly welcomed. If you can help, please do contact us, either by writing to: Sarah Cutler, Ferne Animal Sanctuary, Chard, Somerset TA20 3DH Tel: 01460 67587 or email: volunteering@ ferneanimalsanctuary.org. “Alternatively, Adrian Dixon can be contacted on 01308 868612.”

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Miss B Broms, Miss P Reid, Miss M Atherton and Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, let the dogs out of the kennels
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Miss B Broms, Miss P Reid, Miss M Atherton and Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, let the dogs out of the kennels
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