Little Known London - Kaspar The Cat

  • Posted on 11th April 2017 by Guest - Emma

  • In the lobby of the Savoy is a black cat; he sits aloof observing the to-ing and fro-ing of hotel guests and front of house staff. He is unnoticed by many who come to stay but those in the know can walk over and observe his fine form. He will not respond as he is made of wood, sculpted out of a piece of London Plane tree. He sits upright with a glorious tail that looks almost as if he has a handle! Very occasionally, he is moved from his front of house vantage and is taken to one of the many restaurants and private dining rooms of the hotel. He has a very important role. This dashing black cat joins diners when there is a table of 13. He will sit discreetly beside his table setting, a reminder of a rather sad and unfortunate incident that took place in 1898.
     
    Early in that year, a guest of the Savoy, Woolf Joel, held a dinner for friends in the Pinafore Room. On the evening itself, a last minute cancellation meant that the booking was now for 13 people. This caused much discussion about the superstition associated with the unlucky number including the myth that the first person to leave a table of 13 would be the first to die. Joel, being the consummate host, and probably not superstitious, left the table ahead of his guests. On his subsequent return to Johannesburg just a few weeks later, he was shot dead.
     
    The Savoy and much of London society heard this shocking news - not the best PR for this new hotel! Arrangements were made for any future tables of this unlucky number to be accompanied by a fourteenth ‘guest’.  This was a member of the Savoy staff who sat amongst the unlucky others. He must have felt like a spare part trying not to listen in to the stilted conversation of the other diners who were desperately trying to ignore him!  A more permanent solution came about in 1926. The architect, Basil Ionides, a leading force in the Art Moderne (Art Deco) movement, sculpted a black cat named Kaspar. He became the hotel’s mascot and amused such guests as Winston Churchill as he dined within the hotel with fellow members of “The Other Club”. Winston was such a big fan that when he heard that Kaspar had been ‘abducted’ during a moment of high jinx during WWII, he allegedly saw to Kaspar’s safe return.

    To be continued...


    • Comments
    • Comment
    • by Mitchell Ralph
    • interesting post!
    • Comment
    • by Mitchell Ralph
    • interesting post!
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