The Fourteenth Dinner Guest

If you book a party of 13 at the famous Savoy Grill (Savoy Hotel on the Strand in England), you'll arrive to find that your table has been set for an extra guest.  Kaspar has joined guests since the 1920's, following a tragic death in the restaurant.

In 1898 diamond king Woolf Joel, a South African guest at the Hotel, gave a dinner party to which only 13 were able to attend. He laughed off the old superstition that tragedy would fall upon the first guest to rise from a gathering of 13. His fellows' fears were soon justified, however, when Woolf was fatally shot in his office in Johannesburg a few weeks later.

When the Hotel received news of the tragedy, steps were taken to prevent any chance of a repetition. At first, a member of staff would accompany all groups of 13, though this proved awkward for privacy reasons. In 1926, the Hotel commissioned Basil Ionides to create the 3-foot high sculpture of a cat which they named Kaspar.  Kaspar was carved from a single piece of wood.

The handsome cat, who is served each course and even has a napkin tied around his neck, was at one time even under the protection of Winston Churchill, who secured his safe return following a prank by members of the RAF who catnapped Kaspar and flew him to Singapore during World War II. Churchill was so fond of Kaspar he insisted that the wooden cat should be present at every meeting of 'The Other Club', which has always been held at the Savoy Hotel. To this day, members of 'The Other Club' have respected their founding member's wish, as Kaspar has attended every fortnightly meeting since 1927.

Kaspar resides in a display case opposite the gift shop when he is not sitting at table.

Kaspar at the Savoy

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