Harold Davidson

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Harold Davidson (1875-1937) was a Church of England priest defrocked for immorality in a cause celebre, and famously mauled to death by a lion while taking part in a seaside resort sideshow.

Davidson had become rector of the Norfolk village of Stiffkey (pronounced Stewkey) in 1906. Almost from the start he formed a special interest in the plight of 'fallen women', spending most of his time in London where he enjoyed the fast life of the capital, and acquiring the nickname of 'the prostitutes' padre'. In 1932, exposure in a national newspaper led to the church taking action against Davidson; he was found guilty of misbehaviour with prostitutes and was defrocked (deprived of his ministry) in a solemn ceremony at Norwich Cathedral.

He then sought to make a living, and gain a platform protesting his innocence, in circus and fairground sideshows. His end came at the Lincolnshire resort of Skegness, where, while preaching the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den from a cage of lions, he was seized and killed by one of the lions, named Freddie.

Further information

http://norfolkcoast.co.uk/pasttimes/pt_scandalousrector.htm

http://www.rectorofstiffkey.co.uk/ provides a revisionist account.

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