The week between Christmas and New years is a strange one in the U.K. so many American and other tourists arrive and forget that they are in a foreign country and that having no national holidays since the summer, we are all finding a way to muddle through about 10 days without going to work, or at least those of us that aren’t tour guides.
Back in 2008 in the fabulously historic Southwark Cathedral during these bizarre days, a stray cat appeared at the door. Being sandwiched between the Thames, London Bridge, and a multitude of railway lines, it is hard to think of a more urban place and yet without any people around, there was obviously a hungry cat on the look-out.
After being fed each morning for a few days, the cat decided to move in to Southwark Cathedral and was given the rather fitting name of Doorkins Magnificat by the Vergers who served her on a daily basis as cat owners seem to end up doing the world over.
Doorkins was very much part of the Cathedral fabric and was popular with the congregation, visitors and staff. A number of visitors came to the Cathedral just to see her and she has even had the honour to entertain HM Queen Elizabeth II though it is said she was less than impressed.
In August 2017 Doorkins published her first book which gives a complete tour of the Cathedral
Doorkins could be quite elusive but it was not uncommon to see her walk in front of the altar during a service, asleep on the Dean’s stall in the Choir during the day or cat-napping in the Churchyard if the sun is out. In the winter months, she liked to stretch out on one of the radiators or snuggle into the hay at the Nativity Crib during Advent and Christmas which if you have ever been in what are often chilly Cathedrals in Britain during winter seems an eminently sensible thing to do.
Like many, her life was to change for ever with the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2017. As the area was closed off for a number of days, Doorkins was left to fend for herself. Perhaps she had been psychologically harmed during the terrible events of that night as when at last the Cathedral door reopened, she ran in and never again went outside. As with people for 2,000 years, her church had become a place of sanctuary for her.
In 2019 Doorkins was taken home with a Verger and went into retirement when her eye sight failed and it became unsafe for her to explore the vast and at times complex layout of the Cathedral and on Wednesday 30th September 2020, Doorkins sadly died peacefully having suffered a stroke.
A few weeks ago a memorial service was held for the cat which perhaps understandably was a little controversial to those who live away from the area or were unaware of the story of Doorkins. It should be remembered though that she was a great comfort to the community in the months and years after the terrorist attack and indeed people came from around the world to see her and so bringing much needed footfall and revenue to Southwark Cathedral and allowing people the opportunity to find a quite spot for contemplation in doing so.
She had been laid to rest at the Cathedral.
To read about an even more famous London cat then check out For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry