A Goat Fancier’s Guide To London

Whisper it, but 2013 is set to be the Year of the Goat, at least online. The insane popularity of the Yelling Goats video, and the existence of websites like Goats on Stuff, has led Wired to declare the goat the internet’s new mascot. Given their bewitching eyes, luscious manes and ability to caterwaul with the best of ‘em, it’s only a matter of time before the goat displaces the kitten as the web’s go-to meme.

With that in mind, and in anticipation of this weekend’s Oxford-Cambridge Goat Race, we’ve scoped out some of London’s finest goats. Let us know which ones we’ve missed in the comments.

Goat Statue, Spitalfields

Installed in 2011, I, Goat is an artwork by Kenny Hunter. Proving the popularity of our goaty friends, the piece won a public vote, and according to the artist represents the immigrant experience, and how each new group of immigrants to east London has “faced their own form of conflict, oppression and poverty”. More importantly, it appears to baffle tourists who visit Spitalfields, as we’ve often seen throngs of them gazing up at the goat’s serene face, wondering why the Brits choose to venerate such a creature.

The Goat Race

Now into its fifth year, the Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race at Spitalfields City Farm is almost certainly more interesting than its water-borne near-namesake in west London. Barney, the goat representing Cambridge, has won each year, beating Bramble, a Golden Guernsey representing Oxford. Barney  retired after last year’s victory, though there are rumours he might make one final appearance; will it be a happy swansong, or will his comeback turn out like Ricky Hatton’s? You can find out by buying a ticket and watching in person on Sunday 31 March. (update: tickets have now sold out, unfortunately).

Pan and Goat at the British Museum

A racy scene greets anybody who visits the British Museum’s new exhibition, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum: a marble statue of the god Pan in flagrante delicto with a nanny goat. The statue has caused the BM to issue a parental guidance warning.

City Farm Goats

London has many city farms, most of which keep goats. Among our favourites are Mudchute, where a herd of pygmy goats roam;  the Toggenburgs and very friendly Anglo-Nubians at Surrey Docks Farm; and the goats at Stepney City Farm, one of whom, a certain Ms. Tinkle, recently welcomed a pair of twin girls.

The Goatman of Parkland Walk

Those who grew up around Finsbury Park in the 1970s and 80s tell of a mysterious “goatman” who herded his flock on Parkland Walk, the strip of old railway line since converted into a green space. Turns out said goatman was a local chap named Dick Harris, who lived in a communal house where three goats also resided. Harris would habitually take the goats out for a stroll along the park. True to his name, the goatman also had an amazing beard.

The Goats of London Bridge

A rather improbable scene greeted people on London Bridge during summer, 2012: the sight of Cherie Blair, Nancy Dell’Olio, Miriam Clegg, Cilla Black and others driving a herd of goats over the crossing. The event was held to mark International Widows’ Day.

Pubs Named ‘Goat’

Plenty of London boozers are named for the humble goat. One to visit is Goat in Fulham Road, Chelsea. Formerly known as the Goat in Boots, the pub has had a revamp and re-opens this weekend, and is reborn as a “New York – Italian style restaurant serving wood-fired pizza, char-grilled meats, delicious salads, and house favourites such as peanut butter cheesecake.”

 The Goats Theatre Company

We had visions of goats performing the complete works of Shakespeare. But it turns out that the Goats Theatre Company is in fact merely an “educational repertory company”. (that’s probably enough goats now. Eds)

Picture Credits

The Goat Race, by captainmcdan

Goats on London Bridge, by McTumshie

Other photographs by the author

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  • http://twitter.com/theneonhub Krista Booker

    You have omitted the most glorious of goat incarnations, Mien Tay’s Goat with Galangal!

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      What on earth do you mean?

      • http://twitter.com/theneonhub Krista Booker

        You can eat goat at Mien Tay and it is one of their most popular dishes. You have to try it!

        • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

          It’s probably just sheep meat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Marin/1839662282 John Marin

    There is a township in Nottinghamshire bearing the name Gotham dating back to the period of King John 1199-1217 where pulling the king’s goat by not paying the royal taxes and feigning madness let others to refer to the place as Goat Hamlet. Much has been written about this and more latterly in New York City where the word Gotham is a substitute for NYC invented by the writer Washington Irving early in the 19th century for the revolution of 1776 was an anti-taxation expression of colonials against the British crown. Again the goat taking some significance as a creature of opposition. And if in the Batman movie serials his city is Gotham shouldn’t it be “Bat Hamlet or Batham”?

  • RainCoyote

    Concerning the last point: I once performed a single person show with my goat puppet performing Hamlet in three minutes and playing all the characters.

  • Abigaylesmith