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18 June 2014
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Legacies - London

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Myths and Legends
Stained glass panel in St Michael Paternoster Royal
© Courtesy of 'The Mission to Seafarers'
Oh yes he was! Oh no he wasn’t!

The legend of Dick Whittington and his cat has captivated audiences for centuries. Many people are still familiar with its rags-to-riches tale, which sees Dick, a poor boy from Gloucester, making his way to London to seek his fortune, with a little help from his feline friend. The story may be fantastic, but Dick’s thigh-slapping panto antics were based – albeit very loosely – on the real life success of a medieval man, Richard Whittington. However divorced from reality the story may be today, both fact and fiction alike reflect the long-held belief that the streets to London are paved with gold. More...

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Your comments

1 Christopher Jobson from Welshampton, Shropshire - 8 February 2004
"While it seems to be generally accepted that Dick Whittington came from Gloucester we have an alternative local tradition here. Our tradition maintains that he was born at a hamlet called The Newnes, the son of a blacksmith from Whittington. He was sent to London by Roger de Hampton, Vicar of Ellesmere to the Prior of the Knights Hospitler in Clerkenwell. The Gloucester tradition seems to be based exclusively on the similarity of a coat of arms (cf. the DNB) and it ignores the difficulty with the dates. Our claim has a number of undisputed historical facts to support it. Roger de Hampton was vicar of Ellesmere at the right time under the patronage of the Knights Hospitler who had a centre at Halston in the parish of Whittington. The Hospitalers Headquarters was in Clerkenwell. At the Newnes, in the parish of Ellesmere a cottages exists, dating from Whittington's time, that is still known as 'Dick Whittington's Cottage'. Furthermore the Fitzwarren's held Whittington C! as! te at the same time. In the story Whittington marries Alice Fitzwarren. At the very least there are some remarkable coincidecences in this version."

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Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

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