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So Long, Doorkins Magnificat

October 4, 2020
by the gentle author

My cat Schrodinger is in mourning for Doorkins, Southwark Cathedral Magnificat, who died on Wednesday at the fine age of fifteen. Since the London Bridge terror attack of 2017, Doorkins stayed inside the cathedral and had retired to live with Verger Paul Timms in recent years.

‘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 was responsible for the Cathedral Cat – a duty that he oversaw with tender devotion and it was he who led me out into the courtyard where Doorkins liked 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 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.

On Friday, Dean of Southwark released this statement, “The community at Southwark Cathedral is saddened by the death of Doorkins. Like many before her, she found her way to us and was welcomed and made us her family and this place her home. She brought us so much pleasure and much joy to her many fans and followers. She met Her Majesty The Queen and was present at more services than most of us. She has been a blessing to us in so many ways. We will miss her.”

Paul Timms admitted, “In the past couple of weeks her health declined rapidly and during the night of the 30th September her health very suddenly and quickly deteriorated. She died in my arms to the sound of a familiar voice peacefully at 8.20pm. I miss her more than words can say, such was the impact she had on me and all who loved her so dearly.’”

A Thanksgiving Service for Doorkins will be held at 4pm on 28th October at Southwark Cathedral and a book of memories to leave pictures and stories can be found here.

Southwark Cathedral

Doorkins Magnificat

Doorkins’ summerhouse at the south side of the cathedral

A painting of Doorkins greets visitors to the cathedral

Doorkins shared the same colouration as the cathedral

Doorkins merchandise in the cathedral shop

Doorkins recumbent in the cathedral yard

Doorkins sleeping through the Midnight Service on Christmas Eve

Doorkins has been immortalised as a stone corbel on the cathedral

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Schrodinger, Shoreditch Church Cat

30 Responses leave one →
  1. October 4, 2020

    They love us, we love them unconditionally…and when they leave us to cross the bridge; they leave a massive hole on our hearts. Enjoy your wings Doorkins,I’m sure they are magnificent.

  2. Susan Levinson permalink
    October 4, 2020

    I loved reading this and the photos are wonderful!

  3. Jane Jones permalink
    October 4, 2020

    What a beautiful epitaph and what a beautiful cat. Time to reach for the Kleenex.

  4. October 4, 2020

    every cathedral should have a cat

  5. Amanda permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Huge teardrops for you darling Doorkins and for Paul who must be so bereft without you. Such a relief to learn you were safely in his arms.
    l have always dreaded this moment.

    This sorrowful news poignantly arrived on a rainsodden Sunday morn as l lay cocooned in Egyptian sheets in my huge bed, hibernating from the world in my ancestral Somerset home. Thankfully while in a place l am more at peace and welcomed than anywhere else.

    You meant a great deal to me at the time l lost my own “Miss Kitty.”

    When l travelled to pray for the safe return of Kitty, l found you lying on a pew with your paw caught in some fabric. l gently released your trapped claw, fully realising l could be marked for life. Your look of disdain as you walked away, both of us unscathed, was an honour.

    During a scary time for you with the cathedral closed due to a huge incident with gunfire + explosions, l phoned + emailed to ask if you were safe.
    The Dean kindly replied that while the staff were not allowed to return, you had not fled, and the police had devotedly fed you til Paul arrived – such was your eminence and your appealing aura.

    You truly are a Magnifcat.
    God bless you and all those whose lives you have magically touched.

    My church bells are stridently ringing out in your memory as l write …..

    9am Sunday 5 Oct0ber 2020

  6. Jill Wilson permalink
    October 4, 2020

    There is something very special about church cats… not only do they do a good job keeping the mice at bay, but their otherworldliness and grace suits the beauty of the environment perfectly.

    (Not to mention joining in with the singing, Schrodinger!)

    I’m sure everyone will miss her terribly, and I do hope that another feline friend will find it’s way to the cathedral and Paul soon.

  7. Kay permalink
    October 4, 2020

    What a fortunate cat to have experienced the best of human kindness. RIP

  8. October 4, 2020

    I’m sorry to hear about Doorkins’ demise. She was a beautiful cat. Sit tibi terra levis. Thank you for letting us know, G.A. All my best to Schrodinger.

  9. Susan permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Thank you for this lovely tribute. This cat enjoyed an ideal life for a cat – lots of indoor time, but the freedom to wander about what sounds like a relatively safe and interesting outdoor environment.

  10. Georgina Briody permalink
    October 4, 2020

    When I visited the Cathedral I always made a point of searching for her, I might add not always successfully, as I did accompanying my cousin when she came down from Suffolk. Doorkins had a wide fan base!!

    I’m so sad to hear she has passed but what memories she has left behind and love the fact she is remembered in stone.

  11. Cydney permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Thank you for another beautiful story.

  12. Gail permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Farewell beautiful Doorkins, thank you for bringing joy to so many throughout your life.

  13. Linda Granfield permalink
    October 4, 2020

    My condolences to Mr. Timms, Schrodinger, and Doorkins’ church family.

    (sniffles) Excuse me, I think there’s something in my eye…

  14. paul loften permalink
    October 4, 2020

    What a beautiful girl ! my sympathy and condolences to Paul. My two boys are now over 11 and coming to an age when every day is a blessing. So I can only read just a part of your blog today. I dont like to think about it.

  15. October 4, 2020

    Thank you for this vivid word-and-picture portrait of this amazing cat friend.
    These wonderful animals…….they leave a huge hole when they depart. And enrich us
    in a million ways.

  16. Su C. permalink
    October 4, 2020

    I had the joy of spotting Dorkins while we visited the church last fall. I felt as if there was a quiet message of greeting to me so I approached to get a closer glance. I hadn’t moved 5 feet, when she stood, turned on her heels, raised her tail and sauntered off. Such a cat!

    I am sorry she is gone but I hope her spirit will continue to inhabit.

  17. Derek Bailey permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Farewell from BlueBelle and Lily in Colorado …

  18. Sue permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Farewell Doorkins. R.I.P.

  19. Jayne Wilkinson permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Very touched by the thought that the cathedral will be having a service of thanksgiving for Doorkins. Yes, ‘must have something in my eye too … x

  20. Peter Metaxas permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Nap peacefully Miss. Doorkins,

  21. Southwark Cathedral permalink
    October 4, 2020

    Thank you for this write up. Doorkins will be incredibly missed and may she rest in peace now. We hope to stream the thanksgiving service on the 28 October via our website and Facebook due to now being limited to how many can attend. Thank you all for your best wishes and memories about Doorkins, she was indeed a good cat. Her obituary written by the Dean and on the home page of our website is worth a read with a few tissues by your side.

    Huge hugs and love to Schrodinger x

  22. October 4, 2020

    So sad that I did not get to meet Doorkins on my last visit to the Cathedral.

    All cats should live that long, be loved that much, and when they die, they should be in the arms of the person who knows them and love them best. Thank you.

  23. October 4, 2020

    Lovely story- I’m lucky to have purchased a Doorkins Magnificat mug from my last visit to Southwark Cathedral. Unfortunately I did not see her. Rest In Peace dear kitty.

  24. Bethany Osborne permalink
    October 5, 2020

    Ah, sad for the loss of this beauty — blessed be, Doorkins!

  25. October 5, 2020

    Thank you for the wonderful story and beautiful photos of Doorkins. Animals have so much love to give, us humans can learn so much from them. RIP Doorkins

  26. mlaiuppa permalink
    October 5, 2020

    It sounds very much like Doorkins hit the kitty lottery. She could not have asked for a better life. The corbel is lovely. A fitting tribute to her and her spirit will live on as long as the cathedral stands and there are those that remember her.

  27. barbara Provis permalink
    October 5, 2020

    Lovely story and I’m sad she has passed on to kitty heaven, but she had a good life by all accounts and will be sorely missed. Next time I am in London I will pay a visit to Southwark Cathedral. A beautiful resting place for a beloved pet.

  28. Kim Rennie permalink
    October 5, 2020

    She is running free now with Mr Pussy and all our other loved cats.,

  29. October 6, 2020

    She was lovely little cat, I saw her sunning herself on a bench whilst I was having coffee at the cathedral many years ago and went over to say hello. I found out later that she lived there. Lovely that she’s held in so much affection and there’s a memorial service in her honour.

  30. Pamela Traves permalink
    October 7, 2020

    Doorkins was a Lovely Pussy!! Thank You So Much.πŸ₯°πŸ˜˜πŸ˜ŠπŸ’•πŸŒ»πŸŒΉπŸŒΌπŸ’‹

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