A CHRISTMAS SHADOW: Release day blog post featuring H L Marsay!

Meet the Famous Felines Who Put the Cat into Cathedral

This October sees the release of A Christmas Shadow, the sixth book in my Chief Inspector Shadow series. Much of the action takes place in and around the iconic York Minster. As always, the events and characters are totally fictitious except for two; Gerald and Donald, the York Minster cats. These two Bengal brothers could often be seen entertaining tourists as they wandered around the cobbled streets surrounding the Minster. Sadly, Gerald died recently. Such was his popularity, that the bells were rung to mark his passing and a statue of his image was commissioned. The statue was unveiled by local actor, Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones) and now stands in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate (the church where Anne Lister was married for any fans of Gentleman Jack).


Gerald and Donald aren’t the only felines to have made an English cathedral their home. Jason, the black and white cat lives at Lincoln Cathedral, while Oliver resides with the girl choristers of Ely Cathedral. Eliza and Mrs Higgins can be found at St Paul’s, Covent Garden (the actor’s church). Also in London, is Hodge who lives at Southwark Cathedral and is named after Dr Johnson’s cat. However, perhaps the most famous ecclesiastical cats are Leo, Tiger and Lilly of Canterbury Cathedral. During the pandemic, they regularly disrupted the Dean’s virtual sermons. Tiger attacked his microphone, Lilly drank from his milk jug and Leo stole a pancake during the Shrove Tuesday service.


Cats have also taken up residence at the top of British government. Larry lives at 10 Downing Street. He holds the position of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office (a role first created by Cardinal Wolsey) and has so far seen four Prime Ministers come and go. Larry’s nemesis, Gladstone, lives next door at 11 Downing Street with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. During outside news broadcasts, the two of them can often be seen sitting in front of their famous residences, chasing pigeons and generally upstaging the politicians.

The statue of Gerald the York Minster cat


About the Author

H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.


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