Monday, January 20, 2020

Repton, C.B. Fry and feet of clay

Readers with a good memory will recall that I had begun showing you photographs from my days out during last summer's holiday.

I had got as far as Repton, with its Saxon crypt and stamp machines, when my Photobucket account went tits up.

That was five weeks ago and only today have my photos started to reappear. It all seems very fragile at present, but let's hope that soon improves.

Repton is one of the folders that has come back, so I can carry on with my visit.

St Wystan's does not just have a Saxon crypt to boast. It also has the grave of C.B. Fry - or rather the resting place of his ashes - who was educated at the public school next door.

Who was C.B. Fry? I hear you ask.

I once reviewed a biography of him for Liberal Democrat News and that review was reprinted by the Journal of Liberal History:
lain Wilton’s new biography reveals some heavy feet of clay, but first it is important to appreciate just how compelling a figure Fry was in his prime. Born in 1872, his fame came originally from his extraordinary ability as a sportsman. 
He equalled the world long jump record while a student at Oxford, was reserve for an England rugby trial, won an England soccer cap and played for Southampton in the FA Cup final. Contemporaries likened him to a Greek god in appearance. 
As a cricketer Fry was one of the giants of the golden. years before the First World War. Batting for Sussex with Ranjitsinhji, the silk-shirted Indian whose wristy stroke play ravished Edwardian crowds, he turned himself into the most remorselessly effective batsman in the country.
Fry was twice a Liberal candidate, assisted Ranjitsinhji when he became one of India's representatives at the League of Nations and was himself offered the throne of Albania.

Backwatersman has blogged about Fry's eccentricities, but there is a darker side to his story.

As I wrote in my Lib Dem News review:
 In 1898 he married Beatrice Holme Sumner, ten years his senior. She had long been involved with Charles Hoare, a married banker, and the relationship had resulted in a scandalous society divorce. Her marriage to Fry has been seen by some as a business arrangement: Fry made an honest woman of her in return for Hoare financing his cricket career. 
Wilton rejects this theory, yet his revelation that the first child of the marriage was probably fathered by Hoare seems to support it. 
Hoare had established the Mercury, a training establishment for boys wishing to go to sea. On Hoare’s death in 1908 Fry became its nominal head, but the real power was Beatrice. Her rule became increasingly brutal, and the rigours of life under it proved fatal to one young inmate. 
That reliable arbiter of morals, The Cricket Statistician, has gone so far as to describe both Fry and his wife as psychopaths.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

One wonders what effect his upbringing had on CA Fry, himself a useful cricketer.