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The Old Un's Note

Old Un's Notes | December 2017

The Rector of Stiffkey or 'The Prostitutes' Padre': gone – but not forgotten, as our art editor, John Bowling, discovers on a visit to his grave in Stiffkey, Norfolk

Eighty years ago, Harold Davidson – aka the Rector of Stiffkey or ‘The Prostitutes’ Padre’ – met his sad end: savaged to death by a lion whose tail he’d accidentally stepped on. He had lived a full life. The one-time actor, who later took up the cloth, was defrocked for his weekly commute to London’s Soho in search of fallen women. His downfall came in a consistory court in 1932, when the prosecuting QC revealed this photograph of Davidson with Estelle Douglas, the 15-year-old daughter of one of his friends.  Davidson claimed the photo was taken as a publicity still to boost the girl’s acting career. He insisted he’d been set up; that he thought she’d be wearing a bathing costume under her towel, as she had in a previous shoot. The desperate Davidson was reduced to spending his final years as a circus performer in Skegness, billed as ‘Daniel...

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