Dirty Dick and the Cabinet of Death

Today, we come full circle. 

This is our last lunchtime excursion together, which is far too sad a notion for me to spend any amount of time contemplating, for fear of degenerating into a blubbering wreck.  And that wasn't a pretty sight last time, to which Jess can testisfy if called upon.  But!  They will continue...albeit in a different format...although I will leave that to the lovely Jess to explain.

We started with a mummified cat and thought it only fitting we end on...a mummified cat.  What else!  Secret London devotees, we have come up trumps this time and found you another Dick with another long since expired, dusty moggy.  Yay!  From Dick Whittington's mummified furry friend in a cling film-covered case on the back wall in an old mans' pub in Highgate Hill, to Dirty Dick's decrepid feline in a basement cabinet of death in a historic city pub on Bishopsgate, we leave no stone unturned in the search for the wonderful and the bizarre.

Come with us as the cat's tale unfurls...

Dirty Dick's public house is named after Nathaniel Bentley.  Bentley himself was the son of a gentleman, inheriting a considerable fortune and the "Dirty Warehouse" in Leadenhall Street on the death of his father in 1760.

During his early years, young Bentley led the life of a fashionable dandy, he spoke French and Italian with great fluency and was considered one of the most accomplished English gentlemen at the French Court.

His gradual decline into the legendary "Dirty Dick" evolved over an extended period.  He dismissed his staff, insisted on the most meagre of food and allowed the premises to decay through lack of maintenance - although at the same time continuing to run a lively and increasingly renowened business.

His house, shop and warehouse became so filthy that he became a celebrity of dirt. Any letter addressed to The Dirty Warehouse, London, would be delivered to Bentley.

Poor ole Dick.  It's a very sad tale, as it is said that following the untimely death of his fiancee on their wedding day, he refused to clear up or clean anything.  The dining room, set with the pre-wedding feast, remained locked for many years, the food being left to the rats and mice.

Engraved by R. Page
The well known Dirty Dick

He stopped trading in 1804, died in 1809 and the warehouse was later demolished.  Upon his death, the house was found to be a travesty of its former elegance - a filthy setting for a man who once remarked:  "It's of no use.  If I wash my hands today, they will be dirty again tomorrow."

Click here for more on the story of Dirty Dick, taken from the pub's website.

The basement bar as it once looked,
with Dirty Dick's cat and various other paraphanelia suspended from the celing,
all now since tidied away to the Cabinet of Death, below.
Items included a puffer fish, a sawfish snout, a bald-tailed squirrel, animal skulls and, we suspect, a few cobbled together made up creatures...and the cat (top, left and below).

Whilst snapping away at the contents of the cabinet, we were joined by an English gentleman and his American lady friend, who'd come down to investigate the basement, and were just as fascinated with the story of Dirty Dick as we were.  Apparently, the lady friend, seen posing here as...Dick's cat(?)...creates art from "found things"...similar to the contents of the cabinet, perhaps?  We were not entirely sure but, hey, we're all for making friends with like-minded souls on our adventures.  After they'd satisfied their curiousity, they said their goodbyes, proceeded back upstairs and then we heard an American voice trail down, "Bye goths...freaky girls!"

Our new crazy friends:
Cat Lady and Happy Chappy

When we were done with the basement, in celebration of all our happy gallavanting this year, we raised a glass (we may look half cut but it was just the one..and it was a spritzer, not a pint of wine!) and toasted good times, barking adventures, the offbeat, quirky, secret and the hidden, history, art, architecture, nature and green spaces, general gore (gotta keep Jess happy) and Dirty Dick and mummified cats.

Our goodbye ugly mug gallery of shame...


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