OK, there’s a plethora of monuments in London which depict animals including well-known Animals in War Memorial in Park Lane. But in this series we thought we’d take a look at some of the less well-known monuments or those that are a little off the beaten track.
First up, it’s Dick Whittington’s cat – sometimes portrayed as male cat called Tommy – who can be seen sitting atop what’s called The Whittington Stone at the foot of Highgate Hill in London’s north.
The Grade II-listed monument, the base of which dates from 1821 and was restored in 1935, is said to mark the spot where Whittington, who was said to be about to give up on life in the city after failing to make his fortune and, with his cat in tow, was making his way home to Gloucestershire, heard the famous Bow Bells of London ring out and apparently say to him “Turn Again Whittington! Thrice Lord Mayor of London!”.
Which he did and which become true, apparently thanks to his cat whom he sold for a fortune in gold to someone from a rat-infested land, usually referred to as the Kingdom of Barbary.
Of course, Sir Richard Whittington, while known by many through Christmas pantomimes, was a real person who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries (and was indeed Mayor of London three times) but whether he actually had a cat remains a matter of conjecture.
The sculpture of the cat, made of polished black Kellymount limestone, is the work of Jonathan Kenworthy, and was only added to the top of the stone in 1964.
There is apparently a belief that if the Whittington Stone is ever removed or any harm befall it, it is an omen of disaster.
WHERE: Highgate Hill, near the intersection with Magdala Avenue (nearest Tube station is Archway); WHEN: Anytime; COST: Free; WEBSITE: No.