Other

Dick Whittington and his cat - Highgate

Erection date: 1821

Inscription

{Carved into the stone facing the road:}
Whittington Stone
Richard Whittington
Thrice Lord Mayor of London
1397 - Richard II
1406 - Henry IV
1420 - Henry V
Sheriff - in 1393

This stone was restored by W. Hillier 1935

{Carved into the stone facing the pavement - too weatherworn to be legible.}

{On a brass plaque screwed to the base to the north:}
1964 Whittington's Cat presented by Mr & Mrs Paul Crosfield, Donald Bisset and Friends.

{On a brass plaque screwed to the base to the south:}
Whittington Stone
Richard Whittington
Thrice Lord Mayor of London
1397 - Richard II
1406 - Henry IV
1420 - Henry V
Sheriff - in 1393

British History Online (1878) says that in about 1795 "the original stone, being broken in two pieces, was removed hence to the corner of Queen's Head Lane, in Lower Street {Islington}, and placed against the posts to serve as curbstones." That page has a drawing of the 3-part stone which was erected as a replacement, and then removed in 1821 to be replaced with the present stone. The inscription used to have (after "1393") "This stone was restored, The railing fixed, and lamp erected, A.D. 1869."

Pinterest have a photo of the stone with the Victorian Whittington Hospital in the background, on the other side of the road. It was restored in 1935 and this photo shows a workman engaged with the stone so we think this must be 1935. The cat was added in 1964, at about the same time that Archway Road was widened.

When we first researched this memorial, years ago, we could not find the name of the sculptor of the cat, but now, 2013, Sue Sinton Smith contacts us via Facebook to say there were two: Anthony Southwell and Jonathan Kenworthy. And we see the listing entry confirms that. Thanks Sue, we are delighted to add this information at last.

2014: We have been informed by Will Kenworthy that the cat was carved, in Irish limestone (Kellymount), by Jonathan Kenworthy, who was a third year student at the Royal Academy Schools at the time. He says that “Anthony Southwell did not get the commission so it is incorrect to say that two sculptors are responsible for this carving”.

Site: Dick Whittington and his cat - Highgate (1 memorial)

N19, Highgate Hill

This stone is, supposedly on the very spot where Dick heard the Bow bells ring out: "Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London". We hate to mention that Dick never was a poor tramp, that Highgate Hill does not figure on Google Maps directions for travelling from the City to Pauntley, Gloucestershire, and also that, even with the wind in the right direction, it was probably not possible to hear Bow bells (that's St Mary le Bow in Cheapside) in Highgate a distance of 5 about 5 miles.

There used to be a statue of Dick Whittington (who really was a Lord Mayor) very near here. Whittington built a “college” (almshouse and hospital) next door to St Michael Paternoster Royal in the City. From British History Online: In 1822 this was demolished and a new college was built in Highgate. Initially it was to have been built close to the stone but "the ground not being procurable", the college was placed at the foot of Archway Road.

A stone statue of him as a boy was erected on the front lawn of the almshouses. These were demolished in 1966 to make way for the widening of Archway Road. The later, Victorian, Whittington Hospital remains, though much changed. We remember the almshouses (in unfashionable Gothic) with affection but cannot remember the statue. The almshouses were built a third time in Felbridge near East Grinstead where they still provide charitable homes, run by The Mercers/Charity of Sir Richard Whittington, and provide a home to a statue from Archway.

2021: We've just learnt about the London Mayors' Association Whittington Walk. This began in 1980 and, we believe has taken place every year since.  It's a 5 mile sponsored walk in Whittington's legendary footsteps, from Whittington Hospital to Mansion House. March seems to be the month it generally takes place. The participants are the Mayors from the London Boroughs and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress (yes this is still what the Lord Mayor's wife is called). Touching the cat as they pass seems to have become part of the ritual.  that website has a lovely photo of about 17 mayors at the start of the walk, all in their robes and chains - not ideal walking garb.

2021: Pearly John called for weathered Whittington cat landmark to be restored.

2023: The CNJ reported: "Horrified by famous limestone carving’s state of disrepair, its original artist offers to replace it".  Kenworthy was still a student at the Royal College of Art when he carved the cat in black Irish limestone. It was polished to a high shine and placed on top of the Whittington Stone in 1964. Aged 80, carving is now beyond Kenworthy's capabilities but, if someone will fund the foundry costs, he is offering to produce a replacement cat in bronze. The listing status of the cat seems uncertain.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Dick Whittington and his cat - Highgate

Subjects commemorated i

Dick Whittington's cat

See Dick Whittington. The picture is the charming logo adopted by the Whittin...

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Dick Whittington

Born in Pauntley, Gloucestershire, second son of a wealthy man. Thrice Lord M...

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This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Dick Whittington and his cat - Highgate

Created by i

Mr & Mrs Paul Crosfield

Our picture shows Paul Crosfield as a young boy at the Highgate tennis fete i...

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Friends of Crosfields and Bisset

1964 Whittington's Cat presented by Mr & Mrs Paul Crosfield, Donald Bisse...

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Jonathan Kenworthy

Sculptor. Born Westmorland. Other work in London: 'Lioness and Lesser Kudu' (...

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Anthony White Southwell

Anthony White Southwell was born on 21 November 1936 in Surbiton, Surrey, the...

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