The Scandalous Rector of Stiffkey in Norfolk

For Norfolk or Suffolk
                  Restaurants - Click the Where to Eat Link.s

Harold Davidson became the Rector of Stiffkey in 1906; standing at five feet three inches he was nicknamed ‘Little Jimmy’ by the parishioners of Stiffkey. Harold was deeply concerned with ‘fallen women’ and spent a large part of his time in London, rescuing poor ‘unfortunate girls’ who had descended into prostitution. He would sometimes spend as much as six days a week in London, catching the train back to Norfolk on Sunday morning and arriving in Stiffkey – Norfolk just in time to deliver his sermon and to kiss his wife before returning again to London.After service in the Great War of 1914-18 he returned home to find his wife pregnant and not by him. After this marital relations (which had always been rocky) broke down and Harold threw himself into his ‘good works’, spending more and more time with the fallen girls in the Soho area.

A Fleet Street reporter heard stories about a Rector misbehaving with prostitutes, and this together with complaints from his neglected local parishioners led to a trial which opened on 29th March 1932; Harold was then in his sixties. The story made World Wide news and was considered to be the first real UK Sex Scandal. Despite his protestations of innocence he was declared guilty on July 8th of ‘systematically misbehaving’ himself with young women and ordered to pay costs.

The Church of England held a ceremony at Norwich Cathedral on 21st October where he was ‘removed, deposed and degraded’. So what did Harold Davidson do? Why he joined the circus of course!

During this time he spent a year sitting on a barrel on the promenade at Blackpool proclaiming his innocence to holidaymakers, who had paid tuppence to see the deposed Rector.

He also applied for the job of Blackpool football manager and it is said that he also started a naturist colony.
He eventually ended up in Skegness taking the part of Daniel in the lion’s den and preached from the Bible inside a lion’s cage. On 28th July 1938 the lions, that had always been quite docile, took offence to his preaching and one named Freddie knocked him to the floor. The lion then grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and stalked around the small cage shaking the poor Harold back and forth. The audience thinking it was part of the act roared with laughter and therefore it was some time before help was called. Unfortunately it was too late for Harold Davidson and he died from wounds sustained a few days later.

However, this is not the end of the story as the Rector's grand daughter, Kathryn Collier has discovered evidence which challenges the stories about her grandfather. For more details go to
  Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography