The Fry Family

Joseph and Alex Fry in the 1930s

Joseph and Alex Fry in the 1930s

The Fry family lived at the Manor House from about 1890 until the middle of the twentieth century. Alex Fry recalls his memories.

In residence at the Manor were Alex’s two (great) aunts Susan and Sophie Fry; a third, Aunt Esther ended up as a nun in Hawick, Scotland.

The sisters were unmarried and very talented.  They were always conversing in ancient Greek, while Sophie was also an accomplished botanist.

Alex was living in Wiltshire, where his father and mother had a small holding near Avebury, and was the youngest of three brothers. Unfortunately his mother died at the young age of 32 in 1932. Alex’s  father (Joseph Lawrence Fry) was a Captain in the Royal Field Artillery in the first War and a holder of the Military Cross.

The small holding went bust so the Aunts let Joseph live in the manor with them. Alex ended up in boarding school in East Sussex and visited the manor during school holidays.  During the second world war Joseph was officer in charge of the local home guard, Upton and Blewbury. Later, when Alex was a cadet in the Royal Sussex Regiment, he joined in with the “Dad’s Army” and witnessed some amusing events.

J L Fry

J L Fry

Alex recalls that on the occasion of the Upton bombing, his father pulled one of the aunts away from the window when the incendiaries landed in the orchard, the aunts remarking “what pretty lights!”.

He also remembers well the eccentric Miss Partridge down Frog Alley. His two aunts, every day at exactly the same time, went with a large basket of food to Frog Alley to feed the large population of cats resident at Miss Partridge’s cottage, a ritual which took place without fail.

Joseph Fry was an accomplished musician and composer.  The village was informed that my father’s composition was being played at the BBC, Langham Place, London and being broadcast over the wireless and quite a few of the village tuned in. Alex accompanied his father to the BBC to listen. During the war, musical events were carried out at the manor.  Joseph also played the organ at the Catholic Church in Didcot.

Alex lost contact with the manor when he married in 1952 and moved to London, as a member of the Royal Marine, before joining the London Fire Brigade in 1954.

Aunt Sophie passed away first  and Aunt Susie was knocked over by a Job’s milk float by the front gate – just a nudge, but due to old age she died.   Joseph went to live in Monmouthshire with Alex’s eldest brother, where he died in 1955.

Alex revisited the village some time ago, and noticed that a couple of the old cottages by the manor were no longer there – “Lived in by a Frank Brown, he was the village gossip I believe!!

13 September 2012