1. Walpole, 2. Chatterton, 3. Tom the Church Cat
Now that's what I call a Memorial!
I must admit to being a little shocked that millions of dollars have been spent on saving Horace Walpole (sometimes called a privileged dilettante) from obscurity - totally against Chatterton's expectations; 'I shall live and stand by Rowley's side, when thou art dead and damned' but then Chatterton could not possibly have imagined a man like Lefty Lewis becoming infatuated with Walpole.
It is thanks to Lefty's deeply obsessive character, that a grand and expensive library, containing Walpole's manuscripts and artefacts, has been created at Yale. While back in England, Horace's Strawberry Hill House, which he claimed was 'little more than a cottage', (cheeky devil), was refurbished in 2010, at a cost of £9 million, and stands as another memorial to him and his 'twaddling Letters to some Fair indite', as Chatterton once wrote.
Chatterton was born in the Master's house, Pile Street. These days the house is a cafe and coffee shop serving great coffee and nice buns and well worth the visit. All that remains of Pile Street Charity School is the facade butted up against the house, but at least it has a plaque to Chatterton.
There is currently an opportunity for the site to be incorporated into the plans for the redevelopment of the setting around St Mary Redcliffe church; perhaps they should rebuild the school as a memorial, which would give more space to present the Chatterton story.
There is also a rather simple oval plaque to his memory in St Mary Redcliffe church; it must have cost all of £17.52, not enough money to pay for the cleaning of the windows of Strawberry Hill House.
There is one more plaque to mention and that is the one on an office building in Holborn, close to the house where Chatterton died.
Finally, as far as existing memorials are concerned, there is a rather handsome statue of Chatterton sat on a park bench in Millenium Square, Bristol. The only problem here, is that William Seward claims that Chatterton was short and stocky.
OK, you must have worked out that I was having a bit of fun with some of my remarks about Walpole but, for all that, there is some truth in it. I have read some of Walpole's letters and found them entertaining and well worth the reading but I am not sure about Otranto? I have two editions, both are small books with one being a miniature and not easy to read - and I am not only talking about the size of the type! That being said, I will give it another go in 2021, but this time I will be wearing my 18th century head.
So, fair-do's, we must ensure we offer a counterbalance to the untold riches of the Walpolean behemoth! Chatterton's wish of an Angel with a Trumpet to Blow His Name About has been granted!
Tom, the Redcliffe Church Cat.
The headstone says all that needs to be said about the cat; it was a cat and the cat is dead!
However, we do know a little more about this illustrious cat. For a start, it went by the name of Tom and lived for nearly as long as Chatterton - but wait, all is not as it seems, there are claims that the cat's name was Blackie and not Tom; so what are we to believe? What I can add is that I have seen a photograph of the cat and it looks like a tabby to me.
There is a rumour that the cat's headstone secretly hides the grave of Chatterton - you can't blame this one on Dix - more on this in the near future! .Q.