Posts Tagged berghers hill

Kate Frye’s Diary: Talk at Wooburn Festival, 24 September 2014

Tomorrow – 24 September – I shall be presenting Kate Frye to the Wooburn Festival. I shall be talking about her life – from the age of Victoria to that of Elizabeth – in Bourne End and Berghers Hill – and describing her efforts to interest the area in ‘Votes for Women’.

Kate Frye cover

The talk will be illustrated with many photographs from Kate’s extensive archive and there will be an opportunity to look at other items of local interest from her collection that I will bring with me.

cover e-book

See here for full details of the talk – 7.30 pm at Bourne End Library.

Copies of Campaigning for the Vote will be on sale – signed if you wish!

For full details of both the Kate Frye books see here and here.



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Kate Frye’s Diary: What Was Kate Doing One Hundred Years Ago Today – The Day She Appears On Our TV Screens?

Tonight Kate Parry Frye – in the guise of Romola Garai – appears on our television screens (Sunday 17 August, ITV at 9pm). What was she doing on this day 100 years ago?

Kate was still on holiday from her work with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, spending the time with her sister and mother in their rented rooms at 10 Milton Street, Worthing. However, this was no summer idyll such as the Fryes had enjoyed in days gone by. Then they had rented a large house and travelled down from London with their four servants, to spend a season by the sea. Now that they were virtually penniless, these rented rooms were all they could call home. In the life of Kate and, more tragically in that of  her sister, we see the jarring disconnect when young women, brought up to a life where marriage was to be their only trade, are left with insufficient money to support their social position and expectations. As such Kate’s life story is very much a tale of its time.

Monday August 17th 1914

Gorgeous day. Up and at house work. Out 12.30-  just to the shops. Wrote all the afternoon  and after tea to 6. Papers full of interest. Preparing for the biggest battle in the World’s History. There is no doubt the English have landed over there. I hear from John most days – that he is very busy but not a word of what his work is. Mickie [her Pomeranian] and I went out after tea. Agnes still a bit limp.

John Collins, Kate’s fiancé, who had long been an officer in the Territorial Army, had already been recalled to his barracks at Shoeburyness – leaving his engagement with a touring repertory theatre company. Kate’s sister, Agnes, at the first hint of the European trouble had taken to her bed, prostrate. Kate, a would-be playwright, was busy writing – although exactly what she was writing at this time she doesn’t divulge. On her death forty-five years later she left behind a box of unpublished scripts – and one that was published. She  hoped one day to achieve fame and fortune. As it was she would soon be back at work at her suffrage society’s headquarters – with a new role as organizer of their War Work Work Room.

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women's Suffrage - of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background - the only image of it that survives

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage – of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background – the only image of it that survives


To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – or  £4.99 from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you think of Kate and the life she lived. 

To read in detail about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book – see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.


All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

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Kate Frye: A War-Time Birthday: 9 January 1917



On her birthday – 9 January 1915 – Kate Frye had at last married her long-term fiance, John Collins.  Two years later he was fighting in France and she was living with her mother and sister in a house at Berghers Hill, Buckinghamshire, courtesy of her mother’s sister, the wealthy Mrs Agnes Gilbey. A small cluster of cottages on a ridge at the top of a steep hill above Wooburn Green, Berghers Hill lay exposed to the elements. The wind whipped through Kate’s cottage, bedrooms were icy, the pipes froze – and burst. The walk down the hill to Wooburn Green and Cores End, whether by the road or the path through Wooburn Manor Park (the Gilbey property), was treacherous in winter.  

Tuesday 9 January 1917

Woke to a terrible morning – dark & cold & sleet. It continued to sleet & snow & hail at intervals all day and the wind out was cruel. The anniversary of our wedding day. Two years ago at Hove. All day long & into the night I kept thinking at this time we were doing so & so and Oh it was sad to think of the present and to wonder whether John was alive or dead. It comes so suddenly – the death to them and it would be hours & days before I should hear.

Agnes [Kate’s sister] still seedy & in bed and so cross with both Mother & I. I went off soon after 10.30 to Cores End to seek a Cod’s Head for the cats & fish for her dinner. Couldn’t get the former, the latter she refused to eat when cooked and sent up.

Writing letters most of the evening and after supper sat over the fire trying to get warm & thinking, thinking. Fortunately Mother went to bed. A letter from John – the first since Friday.


For more on Kate – look out for Elizabeth Crawford (ed): Campaigning for the Vote: the suffrage diary of Kate Parry Frye to be published by Francis Boutle Publishers in February 2013

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