Something Old:Kaspar the cat

The Savoy hotel on London’s strand, opened in August 1889.  Since then it has played host to many famous names in the world of art, music and acting (and Niall plenty of times, we are all very jealous -Ed.).  But there is one guest who has been there longer then any, Kaspar  the cat.  Ok  so he is not a real moggy, but rather a 3ft art deco sculpture of a black cat that checked into the hotel in the 1920′s and has remained there ever since.  Kaspar is not just an idle sculpture though,  he has a very important role to play within the hotel.  To understand this role, one needs to think of the old British superstition, where apparently, to dine with only thirteen guests is ominous, and the first to rise from the table will soon meet with tragedy.

Kaspar the Cat

Kaspar the Cat

The Savoy itself has witnessed this superstition come to fruition itself.  Rumour has it in 1898 a guest of the Savoy invited friends for dinner before he began his travels.  However after one guest cancelled at the last minute, thirteen sat down to dine.  After dinner, not heeding the superstition the host was the first to leave,  two weeks later he met with tragedy and died.  Since then the hotel has worked, not to risk this again and after a while Kaspar checked in and since then his role has been to be the official fourteenth guest when any table of thirteen are booked to dine.  Sitting at the head of the table wearing a napkin around his neck with a saucer of milk, Kaspar serves to ward off any bad omens associated with the  number thirteen.

His residence at the hotel has not been totally peaceful however, and as a result he is not a boring dinner guest, he comes with many fascinating stories!  My favourite story is from World War 2 when Kaspar was kidnapped in an RAF prank.  But Kaspar was so loved  by loyal Savoy guests, Sir Winston Churchill, a Savoy fan himself, actually intervened to return him to his rightful place.

Ok, so  lets face it, superstitions can be a bit silly.  But whether you believe in them or not, the story of Kaspar is intriguing,  not to mention the fact that he is ridiculously cute.  So if you are ever in London, I invite you to pop in to the front hall of the Savoy and say hello to Kaspar, and hopefully he will bring you good luck.

To learn more about the Savoy you can purchase Siobhan Doran’s book here:
Savoy | The Restoration


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