As soon as we step outside our front door we can look up the hill and see the old church of St Nicholas on the hill. It has lost the roof of its nave but it is still consecrated and services do take place there from time to time, particularity on special dates such as Easter, Christmas and New Year. The old churchyard is full of interesting graves and memorials, and there is one I visit whenever I go; I wrote this a little while ago:
Buried in the churchyard of our old village church is a man who was involved in the arrest of Dr Crippen, the man who murdered his wife for love of a young woman. More of Dr Crippen another time, but I wondered how detective Inspector Frank Castle Froest came to be buried in our little village, overlooking the Bristol Channel.
It seems he was born in Bristol, or in the Bristol area and ended his life as a superintendent of a sanatorium in Weston-super-Mare, the town just next to Uphill.
I tried to do some research about Frank but census returns and other documentation seem unable to yield much… maybe his name was sometimes misspelt as Frost, I know sometimes it was Fro’est. However I did find out that he travelled a great deal and as yet I’m not sure why, maybe as part of his work as a police officer:
- 1895 – Southampton To Buenos Aires – Magdalena
- 1924 – Southampton To Algiers – Koningin Der Nederlanden
- 1925 – Southampton To Algiers – Prinses Juliana
- 1926 – Southampton To Algiers – Jan Pieterszoon Coen
Frank married Sarah Jane Carpenter at Lewisham in 1880 and probably had two children, Frank Egbert Froest who sadly died aged 16 in Long Ashton near Bristol, and Mabel Mae who married and had three children.
The only other information I have on Frank is a census return for 1911 when he is living on Streatham Hill with Sarah, and a servant (from Bristol) and his occupation is Superintendent, of the Criminal Investigation Office. He died in 1930, aged 73 in Weston, and now lies looking over the town and out to sea, an appropriate resting place.
Since then I have found out a little more about Frank Froest, who died on January 27th 1930. apparently, and this is according to Wikipedia, he was described as “short, thick-set, full-faced, Mr. Froest in uniform looked more like a Prussian field-marshal than anything else. Out of uniform (which he generally was) he was always immaculate in silk hat, patent leather boots, and carrying a carefully rolled umbrella.” He was known as ‘the man with iron hands’, and he was incredibly strong; he could rip a pack of cards in half and snap a sixpence ‘like a biscuit’.
He became a police constable in the Metropolitan Police in 1879 and by 1894 he was an Inspector at Scotland Yard. he was made Chief Inspector in 1903 and the Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 1906 and where he stayed until he retired in 1912.
He had many successes including:
- in 1895 the return of Jabez Balfour from Argentina , who was a dishonest financier
- in 1896 the arrest of 26 officers and 399 other ranks who were prisoners who had taken part in the Jameson Raid. It was the largest mass arrest in the history of British law enforcement.
- in 1898 he brought the international jewel-thief William Johnson to justice.
- in 1910, perhaps his most famous case, Froest was the supervising officer when Inspector Dew’s caught Dr. Crippen and his mistress Ethel Le Neve
He wrote several books, including The Grell Mystery, The Crime Club , The Maelstrom and The Rogues’ Syndicate.