Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Case of the Red-Headed Curate

The arrival in the village of the handsome, unmarried, red-headed curate set the ladies aflutter. No, this wasn't Grantchester. This arrival took place in Andover, in Hampshire, and the year was 1877. The story was a familiar one: "The young unmarried curate is generally a favorite in society.  In many houses there is always a knife and fork for him.  It is commonly said, and not without truth, that a curate has better matrimonial chances than any other man.  There is a kind of curatolatry in many a gentle female bosom." (All the Year Round, 1878)

If curatolatry is a fault, then Miss Kate Lamb of Andover, Hants, was an exemplar of the obsession. Unmarried in her early thirties, she fell quite much in love with the ruddily charming Rev. Arthur Girdlestone Fryer. Soon, they were engaged. When he was posted to another church a hundred miles away, the two exchanged some 900 letters over eighteen months. But after months of letters to his "Darling Pet," the curate broke it off with a note signed, "Yours affectionately." Miss Lamb took to her divan in grief but raised herself to sue for "Breach of Promise to Marry" seeking thousands of pounds for her "blighted prospects."

The whole story is told in the new Ebook collection: "Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1." 
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