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Published August 29th 2021
Statue to the ultimate rags to riches story
There is an area of Archway which has legendary status across London, and it is marked to this day by a small stone surrounded by iron railings. The name of the stone should give an idea as to why, as should the small cat that sits atop it.
This is the Whittington Stone and marks the spot where a certain future Mayor of London returned while on his way out of the capital on hearing the sound of Bow Bells. The cat, unsurprisingly, is Dick Whittington's Cat.
The story of Dick Whittington is a famous one; so popular in fact that a pantomime (a type of family theatre performance shown over the Xmas period, for those who don't know) is performed annually all across the UK.
The monument is smaller than you might expect - but very well protected - with strong iron railings almost wrapping around the stone and stone-carved cat.
This small area of Archway, located between Highgate Hill and Archway Station, was also home to one of Banksy's earliest works - 'Hitchhiker Anywhere', an image representing a prison-uniform-wearing Charles Manson trying to hitch a ride to 'anywhere' as shown on his small sign. Unfortunately, it no longer exists, as the council finally decided to paint over what had been a constantly graffitied overwork.
There's something about the story of Whittington that captures the heart - the original rags to riches tale, and the small cat companion that still marks that famous U-turn.