Nowhere to hide for cathedral fox

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The Independent Online
WHEN THE fox in this picture sought sanctuary, it might have been forgiven for believing the best bolt hole in town would be St Paul's Cathedral. It was mistaken. And yesterday morning after a week-long run of the choir stalls and chapels, it was trapped with the aid of a net, a basket and a bacon sandwich.

Staff at St Paul's first encountered the fox, which they nicknamed Herod, at the start of this week when it disrupted a communion procession. The beast shot out in front of clergy and virgers (St Paul's and Canterbury cathedrals have virgers, not vergers) and ran across the steps to the central altar just before Monday's 8am communion service.

Over the next few days, it raided the cathedral gift shop and set off the alarm system in the crypt. Staff at the shop discovered souvenir parchment maps had been shredded and scattered around, together with chocolate wrappers. Rejecting white chocolate, which it didn't much care for, the fox took some coffee-flavoured chocolate, preferring the Order of the British Empire chapel as its dining place.

Martin Fletcher, the cathedral clerk of works, believes more than one fox roams the building: "Once a fox gets underneath the choir stalls, it can run below the floor between there and the main altar."

Although some of St Paul's' staff wanted to welcome the animal into the cathedral community, others pointed out that the smell of fox urine wafting around during evensong was too much to forgive. And so a trap was set. By 7am yesterday, Herod had been captured.

Today he is being cared for by Wandle Valley Wildlife Hospital. He will live in an animal lover's garden until he can be released into a suitable urban environment.