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Cat among the pigeons

02 May 2014

NEIL HOLMES

A STRAY cat who wandered into a church stonemason's yard has been immortalised in a carving on the building's west front.

The mason, Andrew Gomersall, adopted the starving animal a year ago after she came into his workshop at Beverley Minster, in east Yorkshire, foraging for food.

He dubbed her Dusty, as she did not seem to mind the gritty atmosphere of the yard; and, when the time came to carve four mystical grotesques on the limestone base of a replacement pinnacle, 150 feet up on the Minster's façade, Dusty (right) seemed an ideal model for one of them.

He said: "She was in a bit of state when she first turned up. The Minster's plumber, Steve Rial, and I started by throwing her scraps, then I brought in cat food, and Steve brought in biscuits. She got more and more friendly, and now she thinks she lives in the workshop.

"We think she might be a Russian Blue, possibly a pedigree, and maybe her owners moved away and lost her. I decided to incorporate her into the pinnacle quite late in the process. I had shaped the stone, and was considering the grotesques as the final stages. I thought: 'Why not?' It seemed a fitting subject.

"John English, the Minster surveyor, who has immediate responsibility for what I do, loved it. Like us, he has become quite fond of the cat."

He carved Dusty with a blue tit in her mouth, because in the early days she was living by catching wild birds. The original stone was so badly eroded that there were no clues to what the 14th-century masons had carved.

 

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