The Story Of The Poshest Cat In London

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 7 months ago
The Story Of The Poshest Cat In London
Kaspar's pad. Photo: Simon Goldsworthy

He occasionally dines with guests of The Savoy. He has a seafood bar at the famed hotel named after him, and a range of champagne cocktails crafted in his honour. He is the poshest cat in all London — and yet he was never real.

Who exactly is Kaspar?

Kaspar topiary outside The Savoy. Photo: Ronald Hackston

The origins of Kaspar date back to 1898 and a tragic incident.

Diamond magnate Woolf Joel was hosting a dinner party at The Savoy. A last-minute drop-out reduced the number of his dinner party to 13. 'Ah well', thought Joel, 'I'm not a superstitious man.' To the extent that, when one of the guests suggested tragedy could befall the first person to leave the table, Joel got up from his seat. You know, for a laugh. And then... nothing happened. Woolf Joel was fine.

Until a few weeks later, when this happened:

© The British Library Board

Cripes. Mr Woolf Joel had been gunned down by a blackmailer in Johannesburg. He was was now the late Mr Woolf Joel, as illustrated here in The Graphic:

© The British Library Board

The Savoy, naturally, was alarmed. They'd inadvertently allowed the death of rich chap with a fine name and a smashing moustache. Instantly, the management set to action: from now on any table of 13 diners must be joined by a member of Savoy staff. Problem solved.

Except, of course, it wasn't. Diners didn't like having a virtual stranger sat next to them, earwigging into their fat-chewing. After 38 years of such inconvenience, a new solution was sorely needed.

That solution was Kaspar — a 2ft tall black art deco feline, striking the kind of elegant pose Bagpuss could only dream of. Kaspar was created by the architect Basil Ionides, who happened to be working on plans to rebuild The Savoy's theatre.

Photo: Matt Brown

Ionides's miniature masterpiece set up residence at The Savoy in 1927, and has been there ever since. Kaspar currently presides over the hotel lobby (far right as you walk in).

To this day, at tables of 13, the lucky cat gets the full works — a napkin is tied around his neck and he's served the same food and drink as all the other guests. Indeed, it's ultimate honour for any guest of the Savoy to dine with Kaspar.

Kaspar has gone on to become an emblem for the hotel. The main entrance is flanked by twin topiary, shaved into Kaspar's feline form. He's remembered in Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill (bet Kaspar would go for the £160 caviar). And if you book a table here, and you can choose from not one, not two but three Kaspar cocktails:

For context, The Savoy only made one cocktail in honour of Princess Diana.

Kaspar's fame stretches even further, as the hero in a series of children's books by Michael Morpurgo.

Not bad for a cat who didn't even have one life, let alone nine.

Last Updated 06 April 2017