I love working in Kensington Palace. The “backstage” area for the courtiers is so attractive and full of incredible works of art that have been commissioned for past projects, like this amazing dress on wheels. Just look at the hem, it’s little houses!
Though on this particular day we found something completely inexplicable.
The project was all about Queen Caroline, a brave, kind, gallant royal who loved books and stories. You can catch the story at HRP’s free garden party soon.
But anyway, as we arrived, I heard one of the courtiers on her walkie talkie complaining about “muddy footprints everywhere”. Of course, I thought, muddy footprints would be a big problem in such a beautiful pristine environment.
But then the courtier came in to ask us about them and she looked really distressed. These were no ordinary footprints, apparently. They were the footprints of a gigantic dog.
“so what?” I hear you cry.
But get this. It was upstairs and there were no prints downstairs.
They had only just appeared that morning.
They were both front of house and “backstage”, including the place where I was keeping my storytelling props.
Dogs are not allowed in the palace (except assistance dogs) and none of the dozens of attendants had seen one -either today or yesterday.
and the strangest of all…
this happened during a long unusually dry spell -and the ground around the palace and in the park was as dusty as a desert. No mud for miles around.
Then I discovered the existence of a Pet Cemetery nearby and it all started to make sense.
Read about it here http://www.funlondontours.com/news/victorian-pet-cemetery-hyde-park
If I had to place money on an unquiet spirit, it would surely be that of Topper the dog. Here’s his sad story, taken from the article above:
The Strand magazine published an article about the cemetery in 1893 where the poor dog had its reputation dragged through the mud, with him being described as ‘insufferably vulgar’, ‘a snob of the lowest and most contemptible kind’, with ‘a bad strain in him which seems to have run through every line of his character’. He died of over eating, and was ‘put out of his misery’ by the truncheon of a policeman.
As a loyal police dog, surely his spirit would be patrolling the secure corridors of the Royal Palace.
Rest in peace, Topper.