Unlike the character in the pantomime based on him, the real Dick Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat…

Unlike the character in the pantomime based on him, the real Dick Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat. Whittington may have become associated with a thirteenth-century Persian folktale about an orphan who gained a fortune through his cat, a tale was common throughout Europe at that time. A hugely successful merchant, Whittington donated much of his profits to the city during his lifetime. He financed:
·        the rebuilding of the Guildhall
·        a ward for unmarried mothers at St Thomas’ Hospital
·        drainage systems for areas around Billingsgate and Cripplegate
·        a public toilet in the parish of St Martin Vintry that was cleansed by the River Thames at high tide
·        most of Greyfriars library
·        a law prohibiting the washing of animal skins by apprentices in the River Thames in cold, wet weather because many young boys had died through hypothermia or in the strong river currents.
In the absence of heirs, Whittington left £7,000 in his will to charity, in those days a large sum, with a modern-day equivalence of about £3m. The Whittington hospital still exists in Archway, while almshouses built with money from his will were relocated in 1966 to Felbridge in Sussex. The Whittington Charity still gives money to the needy. 

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