Ferne History

Ferne was set up through the foresight of the late Nina, Duchess of Hamilton & Brandon – who realised that men and women going off to war had no-one to take care of their animals and so would require a temporary refuge for them.

The Duchess put a call out on the BBC and legend has it that when she returned to her London home there were a number of cats and dogs on her doorstep and also a parrot!

The need for our work continues to this day. This page includes some of the notable milestones of the charity. Much more information is available at the sanctuary – why not pay us a visit?


Ferne Animal Sanctuary was founded by the late Nina, Duchess of Hamilton & Brandon at her home, the Ferne Estate in Wiltshire. Sadly this magnificent building is no longer standing.


The Ferne Estate near Shaftesbury is used, with a nearby aerodrome, to home animals rescued from London and other southern cities.


12th January 1951. Lady Nina dies. Louise Lind-af-Hageby takes over at Ferne Animal Sanctuary.


Ferne Animal Sanctuary registers as charity no’ 1164350.


In 1975, the Sanctuary moved to its present premises which overlooks the River Yarty Valley. The Sanctuary is set in 52 acres of glorious Somerset countryside high in the Blackdown Hills.


Ferne’s Golden Jubilee.


George Miller Wishing Well Built


First Annual Dog Show


Ferne opens a new rehoming centre. Doubling its re-homing capacity for dogs.


Ferne opens the Rona Harman Visitor Centre aimed at helping visitors better understand our work. Ferne gets a state of the art special care unit for poorly cats and kittens.


Thanks to a grant from the Montague Panton Animal Welfare Trust Ferne purchased the neighbouring farm providing an additional 20 acres of grazing.