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Doorkins Magnificat, Southwark Cathedral Cat

August 9, 2016
by the gentle author

‘Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen’

When Elizabeth II undertook an official visit to Southwark Cathedral, she stopped in her tracks once she spotted Doorkins Magnificat, the Cathedral Cat. I was informed that her Majesty was fascinated to meet this working feline who embodies the lines of the traditional nursery rhyme but I was not told if Doorkins also frightened a little mouse under her chair.

Verger Paul Timms is responsible for the Cathedral Cat – a duty that he oversees with tender devotion and yesterday morning he led me out into the courtyard where Doorkins likes to spend the quiet hours before noon. Sure enough, Paul only had to call and Doorkins appeared from a conveniently-placed stand of shrubs and shady undergrowth, running enthusiastically to greet us.

Quite a small cat, with delicate features and graceful movement, the gentle creature was happy to be petted and photographed while Paul Timms told me Doorkins’ story

“One of my jobs as Verger is opening the cathedral in the morning and closing it at night, and one particular morning in 2008, a young cat appeared at the door to the courtyard when I opened it at seven. Remarkably, we’d just been having a conversation with the Dean about the mouse problem and we had decided that we should get a cathedral cat, when – lo and behold – Doorkins appeared.

At first, I wouldn’t see him for a couple of days but then he came back and I started feeding him, and he began to present himself every day at the door at seven. I called him ‘Doorkins’ because he was the cat in the doorway, although sometimes people think we named our cat after Professor Richard Dawkins, the Atheist. It was the clergy who came up with ‘Magnificat.’

The congregation are in love with Dookins and give money for food and for visits to the vet. They asked us to produce postcards and greetings cards with pictures of the Cathedral cat, and Doorkins even has a facebook page. The vet discovered Doorkins was a female and of Abyssinian breed. She certainly has her mood swings and, somedays, she will let you pet you pet her but, on other days, you only have to look at her and she’ll scratch you.

They knew Doorkins in the Borough Market, she used to go over there and catch the mice. At first, she had divided loyalty and used to go to both the Market and the Cathedral but nowadays she is solely our Cathedral cat.

In the winter, Doorkins spends all her time in the cathedral. I open the door but she takes one look outside at the weather and walks back inside again. In the summer, she spends all her time outside. In the morning, she is in the courtyard and then in the afternoon she moves round to the churchyard. She’s very popular with visitors, they come to visit her and take her photograph, but when it gets too busy she goes down into the crypt where they can’t follow her, and just comes up every now and again to use her litter tray.

One day, a ginger cat appeared in the cathedral and they began having conversations, screetching at each other during services, so the Dean said, ‘One has to go.’ A Verger took Ginger home and adopted him. Another time, we had an an art installation created by an Artist-in-Residence with beautiful textiles and the Artist was scared what Doorkins might do to it, so she had to go to a cattery for three weeks, but she was quite happy once she came back and fell into her old routine again.

We think Doorkins is about ten or eleven, we’ve had her eight years and she was about two when she arrived.”

Southwark Cathedral

Doorkins Magnificat

Doorkins’ summerhouse at the south side of the cathedral

A painting of Doorkins greets visitors to the cathedral

Doorkins shares the same colouration as the cathedral

Doorkins merchandise in the cathedral shop

Doorkins recumbent in the cathedral yard

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Schroedinger, Shoreditch Church Cat

14 Responses leave one →
  1. August 9, 2016


  2. August 9, 2016

    Love the story. Cats like to choose their own homes and people, good for them! Valerie

  3. Paul Huckett permalink
    August 9, 2016

    When we visit London from our small farm in southern rural Australia, Southwark Cathedral is always on our list to visit . I always find it a beautiful serene place to visit yet a vibrant part of the community . I’ll look out for Dorkins next April . Good luck with your move to Uttoxeter

  4. Enid Stephenson permalink
    August 9, 2016

    The very appropriate computer mouse mat with a portrait of Doorkins makes an excellent small present for under a fiver.

  5. Diane Cooke permalink
    August 9, 2016

    I have to visit Southwark Cathedral now, just to hopefully get a glimpse of the magnificent Doorkins

  6. August 9, 2016

    I love the very special coloration of Doorkins !

    Love & Peace

  7. vanda permalink
    August 9, 2016

    Cats are amazing creatures. May you have many happy years ahead of you Doorkins.

  8. pauline taylor permalink
    August 9, 2016

    Well done Doorkins, you have fallen on your feet in the cathedral, it sounds as if life there is ideal for a cat of your temperament, but then you knew that very well didn’t you. I admire your magnificent whiskers!!

  9. Georgina Briody permalink
    August 10, 2016

    When I visit the Cathedral I always look out for Doorkins as I did see the tail end of her once!! Owning cats myself, I’m sure she knew what she was doing!! Wonderful story.

  10. August 11, 2016

    Lovely post, my school St Saviours and St Olaves (600 girls and staff) used to walk all the way from New Kent Road to Southwark Cathedral for our yearly service. Due a revisit I think, will look out for Doorkins.

  11. Jak permalink
    February 18, 2017

    Stroked you today when you were asleep on a chair in the Cathedral beautiful girl and you complained! Typical cat…

  12. Allison permalink
    March 5, 2017

    He’s a lovely fella. My husband and kids met him and brought me home a lovely mirror and fridge magnet with his picture on.

  13. Ba Storey permalink
    December 31, 2017

    Another Old Girl of St Saviours & St Olaves and frequent visitor to the Cathedral. Wonderful to have a Cathedral Cat – I have seen her on a number of occasions and she always makes me smile.

  14. Amanda permalink
    November 16, 2018

    l too have a special story about Doorkins who l love, along with her devoted Cathedral family and worldwide visitors who read her Tweets.
    l’d travelled to see her after the sad loss of my own lookalike, Miss Kitty. l went to pray in this comforting, calm building with its golden glow and where the gentle staff were wonderful to me.
    Shortly afterwards the terrifying London Bridge & Borough Market incident happened which involved gunfire and explosions right beside Doorkins’ daytime refuge.
    My fear was that she would bolt away in the panic everyone suffered never to return

    l phoned the cathedral for several days unaware it was closed – it was within the cordoned off crime scene – staff not permitted back inside.
    l was grieving for Kitty and could not face the thought Doorkins had gone too.

    Finally my worried email was answered by Andrew, the wonderful Dean.
    The Magnificat had been fed everyday by the Police !
    (shared their chicken salads l heard).
    She is a magical survivor with top contacts everywhere.

    God bless everyone at Borough Market and London Bridge that day.
    Truly in our hearts for always.

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