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Battersea Dogs & Cats home: cattery to receive Grade II listed status

Culture minister Ed Vaizey poses with Whittington, a seven-week-old kitten, in front of Whittington Lodge. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

The world famous Battersea Dogs Home was founded in 1860 as the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs, but by 1900 there were cats everywhere.

Whittington Lodge, a special building created to house them by the eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis, has been newly identified as the first purpose-built cattery in England, and in recognition given Grade II listed building status.

Williams-Ellis is best known for Portmeirion, an Italianate hill village complete with campanile and central piazza, which he built cascading down a cliff in west Wales, creating a setting so surreal that the 1960s television series The Prisoner was filmed there.

Battersea only changed its name to the Dogs & Cats Home in 2002, but had actually been accepting cats as early as 1883, soon after the home moved from an old stable yard in north London to its current site south of the river and has found new homes for more than 200,000 since then. They were initially housed in the same Victorian building as the dogs, but it was recognised that, as notoriously fussy creatures, the cats had different requirements.

Williams-Ellis put his trademark care and attention to detail into the Arts and Crafts-styled cattery, named in honour of Dick Whittington's furry companion, and built complete with stoves to keep the cats warm in winter. The cats moved out in 2010 into a brand new state-of-the-art cattery, but the lodge is still in use as offices for humans.

Roger Bowdler, head of designation at English Heritage, said the building was a wonderful example of the architect's work.

"The survival of such an early purpose-built cattery is extraordinarily rare and along with its intactness and historic interest, it fully merits listing at Grade II."

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is one of the nation's best known and most loved institutions - a wonderful embodiment of this country's love for our domestic pets. Historically fascinating and exquisitely designed, Whittington Lodge is certainly worthy of listing at Grade II, and my decision will further ensure the heritage of this highly iconic London landmark."

Claire Horton, chief executive of Battersea, said they were thrilled at the designation, and described the building as a charming and much loved part of the site. She said: "We are currently building brand new kennels for our dogs. Perhaps in a century they will be receiving the same great honour as Whittington Lodge: a Grade II listing."


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