Crawshay Frost

Horace Crawshay Frost lived at several addresses in Fish Street between 1926 and 1964, and became well known in the village for the diversity of his pursuits, and his somewhat eccentric lifestyle. He was known locally as Crawshay, professor and Frostie. Perhaps one of the most telling aspects of his life is that many of those who contributed recollections of him in recent years, have been themselves amazed, and in some cases disbelieving, of the diversity of his endeavours and the published articles about him. This biography includes...

a biographical summary

family background

extracts from published documents

examples of his photography

residents memories

___________________

Despite living in several modest cottages in Fish St he was apparently a wealthy man, coming from a privileged background. This family tree shows his links to the Crawshay Ironmasters dynasty. . .

Mr Frost had a public school and an Oxford University education, graduating with a degree in history. However, he was both physically and mentally injured in the Great War. Eighty of his WW1 photographs are held in the Imperial War Museum in London (see *** note at the end of this page), including some taken at a London hospital. This is an extract from the IWM website. . .

Collection: FROST H CRAWSHAY

Catalogue number 2811-02 Image Range: Q49525 - Q49604

Object description: 80 prints of scenes and incidents on the Western Front during the First World War. The collection includes photographs taken in 1919 of ruined buildings on the Western Front, scenes in 360th Prisoner of War Company Prison Camp at Vitry en Artoise January - July 1919, and scenes at 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth Common. Most of the collection can now be viewed on-line at...

www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search=FROST H CRAWSHAY   ...and move down the page

alternatively search for:  Frost H Crawshay photo collections    ...and follow the IWM links

There are also two high quality photos of Second Lieutenant Frost available on the IWM website taken in 1917 and 1918 when he was 21 & 22 years old and referring to: `the Somerset Light Infantry, attached to the Labour Corps`. These are at...

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205294851 & http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205294852

On leaving the army, in the early 1920s he initially took up a post as a teacher at the private Brentwood School in Essex, but shortly after he moved to Goldhanger to give private tuition to the Curate`s children. Here he involved himself in local history, archaeology, art, sculpture, music, ornithology, horticulture, photography and writing, and also established a reputation as a local philanthropist of extreme intelligent. Whether it was because he was sufficiently wealthy, or because he was too ill, or both, it appears that for most of the time he lived in the village he did not engaged in any kind of full time employment, but rather he spent his time enthusiastically pursuing various hobbies and pastimes, and paid others to help him with them.

Crawshay with one of his pet rooks in 1938

published in the Thetford & Watton Times

___________________

These extracts of documents held in the archives demonstrate his interest in history and archaeology. . .

extracts from…

Roman Pottery from Goldhanger

by W J and K A Rodwell

published in… Transactions of The Essex Archaeological Society Vol-8, 1976

In 1968 the writers noticed four boxes of terra sigillata in Chelmsford Museum, containing many hundreds of sherds of both plain and decorated wares. The boxes were marked ‘Goldhanger 1966’ but there were no accompanying records. After extensive enquiries, it was established that the collection had been acquired following the death of Mr. H Crawshay Frost, of 32 Fish Street, Goldhanger.

In February 1969 a thorough search of the garden and surrounding area was undertaken and a trial trench was cut in the vegetable plot in the south-west corner of the garden. We noted several sherds of Claudio-Neronian vessels, found in the garden of 32 Fish Street in 1966 and were given to the new owner Mrs. L. J. Trollope. More Claudio-Neronian sigillata was found, together with a very few sherds of coarse pottery, at various places: in the garden; in the ditch which formed its western boundary; and on the eastern extremity of the ploughed field beyond that ditch. The trial trench showed that the sigillata occurred only in the topsoil and was stratified above modern building debris; no archaeological features were found.

Frost, it seems, was a notable eccentric who came to the district c. 1918, and much was learned about him from local inhabitants. He claimed that there was a Roman fort at Goldhanger, based on his finds of pottery; he uncovered a sunken boat in Goldhanger creek, which he announced as Roman; he collected various timbers from the marshes which he also thought to be Roman in date and he built a fireplace-surround in the front room of house No. 32A entirely from Romano-British coarse pottery, none of any intrinsic value.

Further information on Frost's character and activities in the City was kindly provided by Mr. N. Cook in 1970, Director of the Guildhall Museum, London. It appears that Frost toured the building sites in the City and acquired pottery and other Roman antiquities from workmen, often paying very high prices for articles of little worth. He did, however, have an important collection of Roman finger-rings and other metal objects from London, the whereabouts of which is unknown.

After several years of investigation into the 'Goldhanger problem' and a careful consideration of all the evidence, there would appear to be little reasonable doubt that all the finds of Roman pottery from the vicinity of Fish Street were imported from London and scattered there by Frost in the early 1960s. There is no doubt that Claudio-Neronian sigillata, and the occasional fragment of other pottery, will continue to be found at Goldhanger for years to come.

Around fifty of his photographs have been collected from several sources, here are some samples of his...  photographs

Although writing was clearly one of his interests, no literary works solely written by him have been identified, rather many short articles and letters published in magazines and newspapers. Perhaps what is more significant is that a much larger volume of material written by others in books and magazine articles about him has been found...

In 1934 a two-page article appeared in the London Illustrated News entitled: `Gardens of Owls? Rat-Catchers in need of Sanctuary Represented by Hand-Reared Barn-Owls`. The original article it was not directly attributed to Crawshay Frost, it said only that the photographs were taken by `that well known naturalist Mr Crawshay Frost`. However, a later index to London Illustrated News articles does identify him as the author. The follow short extracts are from the that article. . .

`The barn-owl` Mr. Crawshay Frost continues, `is found almost all over the world, and if one examines a good collection of stuffed birds, as in the New York Natural History Museum, the similarity of plumage the world over is most striking`.

The writer noticed one day last summer in an Essex village on the Blackwater an owl fly to a hollow tree-stump. He climbed the tree and the bird flew out, and below on the ground, sheltered by a projection of the bark, were two white eggs. A month later these changed into two fluffy white owlets, which the photograph shows near their mother. The dark, hollow tree, 10 ft. high, did not allow flashlight photography. so, by reflecting sunlight from two mirrors held by boys, with all three people standing on the tree these photos were taken. . .`

The article ends with. . .

`Owls` faces are human-like in appearance; their eyes being stereoscopic, so that when flying or sitting down they must turn the head round to look at anyone on their right or left, which is a movement almost uncannily human`.

Some of the photos used in the article are in included in his... photograph collection

 

Mr Frost was very keen on writing letters to newspapers and magazines and in the 1940s and 50s was said to spend long periods using the public phone box in The Square, reputedly speaking to newspaper editors. Over 50 of his letters have been found and archived dating from 1928 to 1962, including some published in the USA, and there must be more in various newspaper archives. Articles that were not attributed to him and that are about him also appeared in newspapers and magazines. This article appeared in a local newspaper in 1939. . .

enlargement

This article also appeared in the Chelmsford Chronicle in 1939. . .

BIRDS OF THE BLACKWATER

PATIENCE and perfect photography have combined to make a film of ` The Birds of the Blackwater ` of great interest and value - valuable to Maldon and the district, proud possessors of that magnificent river, and of interest to all lovers tot wild life. Mr. Crawshay Frost, of Goldhanger, the author and constructor of the film, is to be congratulated. In his book of ` Reminiscences,` the late Dr. J. H. Salter, of Tolleshunt D`Arcy, gives many exciting accounts of wild-fowling and other experiences in the Blackwater, which `glides on, and will glide on, flowing past for all time.` Mr. Crawshay Frost has now captured the flow and the wind and the wonderful birds in their myriads - at the expense of immense trouble in a tent on the marshes in winter. He would have the Blackwater, or a part of it, a sanctuary for birds, if that were possible. His picture will accentuate that desire. With the running commentary which he proposes to give it - and which he gave in person at a Press view in the fine Embassy theatre, Maldon, on Friday afternoon - the picture should be popular in cinemas generally an educational film. The Maldon Town Council ought to secure an early copy to place with their records and to show on all occasions of public attraction, such as the Hospital Carnival Week, which concluded on Saturday. It should do this most attractive town a lot of good. It ought also to be in the possession of the education authorities. Cinema goers all over Essex would do well to ask the cinema managers to put the film on their programmes.

The following article appeared in a local newspaper in 1947, and the piece of wood is still kept in the village see... Goldhanger Virtual Museum - Keel ..and.. Ancient wooden posts in the Creek

and from the East Anglian magazine of May 1962. . .

ESSEX DIALECT

In broad Norfolk, bits of words are chopped off and they sing when they talk. Suffolk dialect resembles Norfolk`s but there is more carelessness about vowels - witness `Swarfham` for Swaffham.

The main feature of Essex speech is the mispronunciation of vowels. Mr. Stanley Wilkin had a row of Rhododendrons planted alongside his spinney. A 90 year old farm worker of his, Prentice Jordan (who only went to London once - and that was when he was two), told me: `Boss, he sigh, `Tike a barrer o` that hin muck and give each one o` they a load`. That killed they.`

One Monday he said to me: I wore a` charch yestern and person he sigh ol about next world. But what `e know `bout it - `e niver bin thar.`

I am writing from Goldhanger - a Norse name. Five places over the North Sea in Norway end in -anger, a slope. As they came up the estuary, the Norse or Viking raiders must have seen the banks covered with yellow wild flowers, possibly Toad flax which is everywhere here in September, and they called it Goldhanger - the slope covered with gold. Is your street anything to do with mustard?

H. Crawshay Frost, Goldhanger, Essex.

Perhaps the strangest, and the most telling two-page article written about Crawshay Frost was by journalist Roger Frith and published in the Essex Countryside magazine in 1993 entitle: `Jack of All Trades`, which was some thirty years after Frost`s death. The article begins. . .

I suppose old Frost was what you might have called a sciolist, or a dilettante: he had a smattering of knowledge about everything but, like the proverbial Jack of all trades, he had mastered none, which I always thought was a pity, because, in a way, he was very clever. He lived in an old dilapidated house in Fish Street at Goldhanger, surrounded by geese and ducks, pigs and pottery, and many a stray cat (cats, especially, for the house always smelt strongly of them) He was a man of independent means; had been well educated and was a Cavalry officer in the First World War, His mother was a guest from South Wales, and an ancestor, a mine owner, had instructed that over his grave should be placed a twelve-ton slate slab, with `God Forgive me` inscribed on it. Frosts brother, it was said, was a KC who had converted a barge into a house-boat which was moored at Heybridge Basin.

The article then describes the period just before Mr Frost died when he is said to have lined up 99 chickens on his garden wall. The author related the episode to a parable about sinners in the St Matthew Gospels:

`If a man have an hundred sheep and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety-nine and go into the mountains and to seek that which is has gone astray. Even so, it is not the will of your father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish...`

The article concludes with:

`I think it very strange that old Frost should have thought of himself, if he had, not as a lost sheep but as the hundredth chicken that had gone astray. Perhaps it all went back to that ancestor who had engraved on his twelve ton slate slab: ` God Forgive Me` For what, I will never know`.

The autobiography entitled `Drawn to Trouble - Confessions of a Master Forgers` by infamous art forger Eric Hebborn was published in 1991. He originated from Maldon and the book has a 12-page chapter (Ch-III) entitled “Work of Utmost Importance” and is about the association between Mr Frost and himself. It describes in some detail their activities in Fish St. The following paragraphs referring to Mr Frost are typical. . .

....it was the antithesis of the spirit that led him to the passionate pursuit of sculpture, painting, music, ornithology and photography. To this list I should perhaps add archaeology, because in the museum in Colchester Castle are preserved the remains of a Roman galley excavated by Mr Frost in Goldhanger Greek. Although these various interests were pursued in a totally haphazard and amateurish way, Mr Frost`s efforts were the reflection of a truly independent spirit that was not afraid to question generally held views, to have its own taste, or make mistakes in a vigorous quest for something beyond mundane existence. I would like to think that a little of this quality rubbed off on my youthful self, and whether it did or not, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr Frost. In retrospect it is my belief that he knew before our meeting (probably through the Maldon Art Club of which I discovered he was also a member) both of my own interest in art and my poverty, and had embarked on the `work of the utmost importance` to help me financially, without it appearing as an act of charity.

....he disappeared into his house by a side-entrance leaving me in the street. I noticed in the failing light, that the house, for all its air of neglect, was probably not more than twenty years old, and that it was unique in Fish Street, insofar as it rose above one storey. Indeed it was virtually three storeys, for above the second floor a kind of look-out tower had been attached. This I later discovered to be designed for the watching of seabirds, one of Mr Frost`s many interests. Out of the downstairs windows issued the flourishing branches of well-established trees, indicating that the lower rooms were used for horticultural purposes, a fact that seemed to explain the quantities of rotting furniture arranged among, and half-hidden by, the weeds of what I could see of the garden. The front porch was occupied by a large company of swollen cats that had fallen asleep. In their midst, completely blocking the front entrance, stood the cause of their somnolence, a half-eaten mountain of stinking fish.

...Mr Frost was of philanthropic bent, and having inherited that sufficiency of wealth as in the eyes of the world distinguishes the eccentric from the mad, was free to indulge in good works without troubling other people either for their money or their opinions. He had, for instance, presented the local church with a splendid organ, making only one condition to the gift: that he himself should retain the right to practise on the instrument whenever he pleased. The vicar, I recall, had reason to regret having accepted this condition, for when Mr Frost was pleased to play the organ, this invariably coincided with when he himself was pleased to preach a sermon.

In 1996 the autobiography of Graham David Smith was published entitled: Celebration. For many years Mr Smith had been a close friend and the business partner of Eric Hebborn. The autobiography also describes visiting Crawshay Frost in a chapter entitled: Maldon 1955. Here are some extracts...

Our destination was Mr Frost's two cottages on Fish Street. Eric had told me many tales about Crawshay Frost, Goldhanger's notable eccentric who, before the First World War, had been an acclaimed nature photographer. During the war, shell shocked and traumatised, he was invalided out, and never recovered from his experiences. As a youth, Eric had often been hired as an artist and odd-job man by Mr Frost, who paid him generously.

The garden surrounding Mr Frost's cottages resembled a plundered jumble-sale. Bushes, trees, even the front hedges were strewn and decorated with sheets, towels, various pieces of clothing, including underwear and socks, in all a condition of decay and hanging in skeletal shreds from branches and twigs. The ground was a palimpsest of books, more assorted linens, pots, pans, china (some of it old and fine), with knives and forks driven into the earth, their bone and silvered handles looking like a child's toy soldiers standing at angled and undisciplined mention, overseeing a mutinous and disarrayed campsite.

Mr Frost, an elderly, thin, rather dirty white-haired man wearing a pair of stained shorts and a jersey, cycled into his garden in a distracted manner. He was delighted to see Eric but was also preoccupied. He had been feeding his geese along the sea wall.

He had discovered an ancient landing-stage and was attempting to excavate a submerged Roman galley from one of the many mud filled  creeks nearby. He wanted to house his finds in a small museum but had met with strong local opposition. To find a storage place was important since several rooms, including the bathrooms in both his cottages, were packed with Roman remains.

We had come to work and earn money. Mr Frost had a perfect job for us. Laid out in front of the open kitchen door were several mahogany beams ordered through local woodyards and a large satchel of finely honed steel chisels from Harrod's. Mr Frost, deeply disturbed by any stories about war, had come by what he thought would be a perfect solution of that awful Mau-Mau business in Kenya: art to soothe the savage breast. To get the Africans started, he had sketched out the wood scenes and motifs he thought conducive to a peaceful and pastoral life.

For a week or so we made sporadic forays from our tent to Goldhanger, hammering and chiselling out Mr Frost's ethical pictographs as he directed our efforts. Each night we would walk back to our tent, hands blistered, happy with a pound or two in our pockets.

In 2006 retired journalist Joseph Canning, who grew up in Goldhanger and attended the village school, published a semi-biographical novel entitled Once Upon An Island. He describes the book as. . . `written about places that exist and characters I knew as I grew up along the estuary and in the village that I describe`. To anyone who lived in the village in the 1940s and 50s or who is familiar with recent village history there is one character in the book who stands out: `Horatio Crockshay Volwycke-Hoar`. The various descriptions of him, and his lifestyle portrayed in the book, can only be Horace Crawshay Frost. Without doubt, Mr Frost continues to fascinate all who have studied the village past and have chosen to write about it.

For many years Mr. Frost had the reputation of being an intelligent eccentric bachelor, and most attributed this eccentricity to his world war one injuries, however an investigation into his family background would also indicated that he came from a long line of notable eccentric males within the Crawshay family. Today this is well documented on the internet, which a search for: crawshay eccentrics reveals.

Perhaps because of his unusual and eccentric ways, many local people have remembered and passed on their reminiscences about him. It is these stories that have led to the research into his past and the desire to seek out articles published by and about him, together with his letters and collection of photographs. Information about his life continues to emerge.

___________________

The following paragraphs were written by a former resident and a contemporary of Frost and Hebborn...

Concerning Capt. Horace Crawshay Frost and Eric Hebborn

Horace Crawshay Frost was a friend of my father`s and as a boy I spent much time with Frost, fascinated by his photography, cavalry experience (with photos) during WWI (I can confirm that he held the rank of captain) and many of his books, amongst which was included a large and beautifully illustrated German Bible, printed in old Gothic script and having illuminated chapter headings, from which he would sometimes read to me, having explaining the characters of the Gothic alphabet which I remembered many years later when taking university papers in German Language.

Mr. Frost was a gentle-man of whom I have fond memories, having admired and respected him as, in my estimation, the only really well-educated man in Goldhanger; he was much influenced by Capt. C.W.R. Knight, who was a well-known falconer, bird photographer and author, producing beautiful black-and-white, plate camera photos, typically depicted in his volume Wildlife In The Tree Tops, a copy of which Mr. Frost gave to my father and which I have beside me.

Along with H. C. Frost, he now takes his place in my memory amongst the ranks of those whose lives I consider to have been `unfortunate`, in that they could have developed to greater personal and social benefit than circumstances permitted, though the most unfortunate person who figured during my boyish years was Richard Horsley, well know in the Goldhanger of those days as a visitor to the Chequers and also to services at the parish church. Richard was a conspicuous character amongst the Chequers patrons, having come from a titled family and benefited from a similar education to H. C. Frost, being an ex-Naval Officer and secretary to a large company that had its head office in London.

While it is my intention to meld my joint-experiences and opinions regarding these two people of widely different backgrounds, the decision to deal with them jointly has been derived from the awareness that their personalities had common factors, also that they knew one another, while both were personally known to myself. Frost was resident at Goldhanger throughout my formative years, while Hebborn was one year ahead of me as a pupil at Maldon Secondary School.

Resident at Goldhanger, a village then peopled largely by labourers, artisans and minor business folk, Frost, coming from an upper-class, public school and Oxford University background was socially isolated, having no kindred spirit with whom he could share his artistic and literary interests or discuss at depth, worldly or political affairs. Therefore, it was frequently the case that local residents totally failed to understand the attitudes behind some of Frost`s actions; a typical case being illustrated at the close of WWII hostilities when Frost hung a large Italian flag on the front of his house, an action that was taken by some local residents to signify that Frost had Fascist sympathies. In fact, Frost`s long study of Italian history and culture, his delight in everything Latin, made it impossible for him not to hold some degree of sympathy for the country that had suffered so much at the hands of the dictator who bound its people to Nazi Germany. Considering the limitations of local public understanding, Frost`s benevolent and generous nature perhaps too often disregarded the popular social mood of the day.

While it was not uncommon for local residents to pass derogatory comments about the untidiness of Frost`s house and garden, in fixating upon such factors they totally overlooked his vast knowledge and potential as a source of learning; this was, however, inevitable as most local residents, ably relating to social factors such as `tidiness` and `conformity`, found Greek and Latin culture and foreign languages totally beyond their mental orbit.

Introducing Eric Hebborn into the picture necessitates dealing first with his personality as a teenager. Hebborn had an unforgettable presence whenever a group member, frequently surrounded by listening boys, he would stand gesticulating, loudly delivering a lecture in his usual florid style, on some topic of conversational interest, from school discipline to painting. While many considered Hebborn to be `odd` he was in fact as misplaced in the Maldon Secondary School environment as Frost was in a rustic village setting, neither being more than partially understood by most of those who surrounded them; in fact, Hebborn`s boyish nickname at school was `Mad Starkins`, the derivation of which now eludes me.

In Hebborn`s book, Drawn to Trouble, he illustrates Frost`s continual conflict with `Major Page` of Thatch End which seems rather incongruous as Francis Page, owner and resident of Thatch End was an avid amateur landscape painter, a relevant point of interest somehow excluded from Hebborn`s narrative; however, Hebborn, ever effusive as I knew him, in handling his association with Frost was at full-gallop with a dash of poetic licence included, obviously enjoying the process of creating caricatures, both highly eccentric and intriguing, for the reader`s delectation.

As Hebborn`s experiences with Frost suggest, Frost was not a man buried in melancholy for he could be very jolly on occasions, while at other times he would be immersed in his reading or thoughts and disinclined to indulge in light conversation. I recall one fine summer afternoon when, surrounded by appreciative lads, Frost talked of the lighter side of his days in the cavalry, showing photos from his large albums to support his discourse and one photo in particular comes to my mind: it showed an expansive lawn upon which stood a trestle-table that was laid as if for a banquet, adorned with the silver and trophies of his regiment, leaping over which was an airborne horse with Frost in the saddle, daringly exhibiting his confidence as a horseman. His afternoon presentation was duly followed by the emergence of his cavalry officer`s sword, to be used in a demonstration of how he and his young cavalry contemporaries would toss apples into the air and impale or bisect them as they fell, followed by his generously permitting us to attempt to emulate his skill, which we did to rather poor effect.

In reality, neither Frost nor Hebborn was mentally unhinged and neither represented a threat to society; yet both would have benefitted greatly from living amongst people who were capable of fully appreciating their intellectual and artistic capabilities. Such social transposition never occurred for Frost though Hebborn probably found his appreciators at arts college, in London, when he was well advanced along the path to becoming an exceptional artist.

What did these two men, in many respects cast from such different moulds, have in common? Frost was raised as a typical upper-class gentleman who, through the twist of circumstances, found himself in a British cavalry regiment where, ultimately on the WWI, Somme battlefield, he and his horse were subjected to a close artillery shell explosion, the horse killed and Frost rendered, as he would describe `like something more suited to a butcher`s slab.` This experience, as I interpret it, was roughly paralleled by the shock of Hebborn`s early school experience, that of being totally disbelieved while innocent and then sent to live in a Borstal home.

Thus, in the light of re-examining my own childhood experiences, I now consider that the effect of Hebborn`s treatment, both at school and in court, created within him the feeling of being unjustly selected for maltreatment by authority, and that these experiences possibly provided the corner-stone, initially responsible for his eventually `thumbing his nose` at the established, official art world that valued his work little while paying fortunes for his superb `originals`, rendered in the style of the classical grand masters. Indeed, injuries to the psyche frequently have effects that endure long after physical damage would have healed, as in the case of Frost, the battlefield shock going untreated to affect the remainder of his life; also arguably in Hebborn`s case, for shock, especially if coupled with perceived social injustice, engenders a deep introspection that so easily can result in a lingering, cynical view of one`s fellow humans and society.

Perhaps it may not surprise you to read now that I do not consider Hebborn to be `infamous` in the commonly held meaning of the word; more pertinently, I consider that he made a life-long statement in opposition to what he saw as false social values, deliberately spawned by the predominantly money-hungry sharks and theatrical poseurs of the established art world, elements in his life so well depicted in the skillfully composed BBC documentary `Eric Hebborn - Forger Extraordinary` with its personal interviews that revealed `art world notables`, some of whom displayed superficial notions of art, while also uttering subjective and arbitrary opinions on both Hebborn`s ability as an artist and also upon his character.

Horace Crawshay Frost was a gentleman, both in word and manner, a sensitive man who lived akin to Swift`s `Gulliver`, in being isolated as a classics scholar amongst relatively uneducated people, while Eric Hebborn found himself cast into a rather cruel world of inflexible authority and social theatre that ill-befitted his complex personality and supreme skill as an artist. Both men suffered needlessly, as perhaps we all have at times, while their lives illuminated many aspects of British Society with its inflexible and indifferent usage of people from all social classes and the ingrained intolerance of those who failed, or chose not to, march with the conforming crowd.

As a contemporary of the two subjects in question, this limited dissertation has inevitably drawn myself into the picture, not only as a personal experience reference but also as the writer, to more than qualify a statement made by Sir Philip Sidney: that `he who essays reveals himself.` To round-off this treatment of two individuals who exhibited far greater abilities than my own, how can I do them justice, other than to perhaps inadequately resort to the language that wove its way steadily through the fabric of their lives.

Sic transit gloria humanus eruditio.

(Thus passes the glory of the human learning)

___________________

another former resident recalls...

“One of Mr Frost’s frequent habits was to sit in the creek at low tide where it was sandy with the water up to his waist, washing himself as if he were in a bath. He would wear at least three all-in-one swimming costumes to keep out the cold.

As a young teenager I used to do a lot of work for Mr Frost for cash. One of the best well-paid jobs was going up to London with him by taxi (possibly George Stokes’s taxi) carrying a couple of large sacks. The object was to go around three or four of the bigger hotels to collect all their stale buns and cakes. The bulging sacks would then be brought back to the village and over the ensuing days the stale cakes and buns would be fed to a dozen or so geese and ducks which Mr Frost kept ‘free-range’ in ‘the Pits’ near the Seawall”.

___________________

A biographical summary of Crawshay Frost

o    Horace Crawshay Frost was born on 24 November 1896 in Norfolk

o    He was the second son of Thomas Crawshay Frost, a wealthy Watton brewer

o    The family were descended from a long line of Norfolk Rectors with the surname of Frost

o    He was educated at the Gresham public school in Holt

o    He told friends and neighbours that his family fortune came from coal and mining in South Wales

o    His grandmother was Elizabeth Crawshay and so was directly descended from the famous `Cyfarthfa Ironmasters`

o    The Crawshay dynasty of mine owners and steel producers lived and worked at Merthyr Tydfil

o    The family had Cyfarthfa Castle built in 1825

o    Crawshay Frost when to Oriel College Oxford on 25 January 1916, a BA in history was conferred in October 1921

o    He was recruited directly into the army from university as an officer in WW-1

o    `Frost H.C. July 15th 1916 Lt. 13th Somerset L.I., France 1916-17`

o    He said he was in the cavalry during WW-1 with the rank of Captain and was known to be a capable horseman

o    He spent two days on the quayside at Southampton with hundreds of other wounded men

o    He was taken to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth Common

o    Eighty of his photographs are held in the Imperial War Museum in London, including some taken in a hospital. ***

o    He Left the Army in Dec 1919 with discharge papers marked `LMF` = `Lack of Moral Fibre`. . .

. . .now known as `combat stress` or `Post Traumatic Stress Disorder` (PTSD)

o    Suffered the effects of shell shock and gas for the rest of his life

o    Awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal

o    He taught Goldhanger farmer Barry Rose at Brentwood School in the 1920s

o    He moved to the Goldhanger to give private tuition to the Curate`s children in 1925

o    He rented a Coastguard Cottage for use as a schoolroom

o    He lived at several addresses in Fish Street between 1926 and 1964

o    Known by some in the village as `the professor` he was fluent in German, Greek and Esperanto

o    He had the Belvedere built on roof of one of his cottages in Fish St, which still exists

. . .it was built to look out over the estuary during the day to observe birds and to observe the stars at night

o    He constructed a `library` at another of his cottages in Fish St with an underground `nuclear bunker` beneath it

o    The library has very impressive panelled wooden walls and flooring that he purchased in Wales

o    He participated in: archaeology, art, music, ornithology, horticulture, photography, writing

o    He was described as `the well known naturalist` in a London Illustrated News article of 1934.

o    He recovered what he believed it to be a keel from a Roman barge, it was used...

as the archway over the gateway of his cottage in Fish street for many years

o    A wooden sculpture was donated by him to the St Peter`s Church and is still in Lady Chapel. . .

the back of the sculpture is engraved: `Burma Teak - Crawshay Frost 1953`

o    He was an accomplished musician, playing the organ in the church, and the piano and violin in the Chequers inn

o    He tamed various wild birds and was frequently seen with tame crows and jackdoors on his shoulder

o    Some of Frost`s bird photographs were used in brochures by Wilkin & Sons Ltd. in the 1930s

o    He built his own duck Decoy Pond to catch ducks and geese which he ringed and released

o    He planted the two Sequoia trees that are still in the churchyard

o    He was known for his collection `exotic plants` in the gardens of his cottages

o    He wrote many letters to newspapers and magazines in 1940s and 50s - about 50 have been found

o    Frost claimed to be a close friend of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher

o    As a pacifist he strongly objected to plans for the nuclear power station at Bradwell. . .

he spent days/weeks participating in these public hearings in Maldon

o    His increasingly eccentric lifestyle in later life resulted in many people still remembering him

o    When he died in 1964 his remains were taken to the family grave at Pulham Market in Norfolk.

o    A biography of him was published in the Chelmsford Chronicle in August 1939 (shown above).

o    He was a member of the Maldon Art Club, which is where he met infamous art forger Eric Hebborn

o    The autobiography of Eric Hebborn written in 1991 has a long chapter on his association with Mr. Frost (extracts above).

o    In 1993 (30 years after his death) a feature article appeared in the Essex Countryside magazine by a Roger Frith. . .

describing the period just before Frost`s death entitled `Jack of All Trades` (extracts above)

o    The autobiography of Graham David Smith written in 1996 has several pages about a visit to Mr Frost in Fish St. (extracts above).

o    In 2012 the recollections of Frost and Hebborn by a former resident were received (presented above)

o    Information and reminiscences about Mr Frost and his ancestors continue to surface

 

*** Mr Frost`s collection of WW-1 photographs would appear to have been donated to the Imperial War Museum in relatively recent years, probably by a member of his wider family. The Goldhanger History Group would be very keen to establish contact with members of the family through. . .

david<at>churchside1<dot> plus<dot>com

return to. . .

characters from the past                 top                   home