We’ve got used to clergymen being accused of sexual misconduct, but all the same this story gave me a bit of a shock. …Harold Davidson, Rector of Stiffkey, whose zeal for the rescue of ‘fallen’ young women had led to a prosecution for immorality by a Church court in 1932. One decisive piece of evidence against Davidson had been a striking photograph of him in clerical dress, reaching out towards a fifteen-year-old girl, her back to the camera; she clutched a shawl to her bosom but was otherwise nude, her bottom bare to the camera. In his defence, Davidson claimed to have assumed that she was wearing a bathing suit. The court had rejected his pleas and found him guilty. Defrocked and bankrupt, Davidson was reduced to making a public exhibition of himself. For a while he appeared on the Blackpool seafront, notionally being roasted in a glass-fronted oven, while a mechanised devil prodded him with a pitchfork. When interest in this performance waned, he began appearing in Skegness with caged lions, in a show billed as ‘Daniel in a modern lion’s den’. Unfortunately, he stepped on a lion’s tail and was fatally mauled.
The Professor and The Parson p72-3*
I didn’t think popular culture could sink much further, but would we still have an appetite for this kind of humiliation?
*more of this baffling book in a later post.