Toby Cave and the fox

tobyLyndon F (Toby) Cave (left), former architect and noted local historian, who has now relocated to Dorset, presenting a parting gift to Jeff Watkin of Leamington Art Gallery and Museum.

The fox is one of the earliest surviving artefacts associated with the ‘new town’ built north of the river in the early 1800s and was originally the weathervane on the Kings Mews, forerunner of the Regent Hotel Stables, which later became Regent Garage. It pre-dates the Regent Hotel, which was built later on the open ground in front of the Mews. Made in 1810/11, of solid brass, the weathervane was placed on top of an arch leading to the Mews, and was lost in the rubble when the arch was destroyed by the same WWII bomb which displaced Queen Victoria’s statue and destroyed the shop opposite.

fox

Toby Cave’s great-uncle was head of the wartime camoulflage unit, billeted at the time at the Regent Hotel, and as the bomb damage was cleared, the fox came into his possession; no-one else was at all interested in it. Thirty or so years ago, he handed it on to Toby for safe keeping, and it has lain in Toby’s cellar at Portland Street ever since.