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Patrick Roberts

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Church Cats 2

Tiddles, of Fairford, Gloucestershire
Reverend Red, of Clapham, West Sussex

Tiddles of Fairford

(and a successor, Tiddles 2)


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The church of St Mary the Virgin, Fairford, Gloucestershire

Tiddles was for 17 years the tabby cat at the lovely church of St Mary the Virgin, in the Gloucestershire village of Fairford, from 1963 until her death in 1980. Having befriended the verger and his wife, she stayed on and became a firm favourite, attending services regularly and sitting on the knees of willing members of the congregation. A local stonemason, Peter Juggins, felt that when she died she deserved a memorial at least as much as some of the people who already had one ('more, in some cases', said a commentator), and so he carved the likeness that stands outside the church porch today (right).

Memorial stone to church cat Tiddles outside the porch of St Mary's, Fairford, Gloucestershire
Tiddles 2, the St Mary's church cat, July 2006, Fairford, Gloucestershire

When I visited Fairford in the summer of 2006 to photograph Tiddles' stone — now rather overgrown with lichen — there was someone at the church who remembered Tiddles, more than a quarter of a century on, so she must have made an impression. And I found she had a successor! Another tabby female had been seen wandering around the village a couple of years earlier, apparently homeless; she adopted the church and was being looked after by the volunteers. My photo shows her comfortably curled up on one of the pews (left).

Tiddles 2, the St Mary's church cat, 2007, Fairford, Gloucs

I asked her name, but it seemed she was simply called 'the church cat'; but it was not long before she inherited her predecessor's name and became Tiddles 2. Although she was not allowed to remain inside the church at night, she had a large and comfortable 'house' in the spacious church porch, where she was also fed; and in addition there was a basket by the church door, strategically positioned to catch the afternoon sun! A further portrait of her was taken in 2007 by David Stowell, who has kindly agreed we may use it here (above right).

All went well until the winter of 2009, when after a particularly cold spell of weather Tiddles' health deteriorated, and so she was taken in by one of the 'church ladies' to live at home and be made comfortable in her old age. She enjoyed her new home for about twelve months, but then the parish magazine for December 2010 reported that she had died after being ill for several weeks. Parishioners donated towards her vet bills, and it was stated that 'Tiddles will be sorely missed by a lot of people.'

Perhaps — who knows? — another cat will hear about the 'vacancy' and there will one day be a 'Tiddles 3' at Fairford!

Reverend Red

Church of St Mary the Virgin
Clapham, West Sussex

Reverend Red, former church cat of St Mary the Virgin, Clapham, West Sussex Reverend Red, former church cat of St Mary the Virgin, Clapham, West Sussex The Clapham here is not the London district well known for its rail junction, but a small village and parish in West Sussex in the south of England. For many years there was a church cat there called Reverend Red, born as a farm cat in a neighbouring farmyard. As can be seen from the only pictures of him we have been able to locate, dating from 2007, he was a fine red tabby tom.

Red was still alive, aged 19, in late 2011, but had returned to life on a farm after he had an unpleasant encounter with a dog during 2010.

Image source, with our thanks: Tansy Jefferies at Flickr.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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