Writer Glenn Chandler – best known as the creator of TV detective series Taggart – is staging a true life crime tale at Margate Museum in June.
The playwright, novelist, producer and theatre director brings the story of Sidney Fox and the murder of his mother Rosaline at the Margate Metropole Hotel in 1929 to a stage which will be created in the very magistrates court – now within Margate Museum – where Sidney appeared before being tried at Lewes Crown Court and hanged in 1930.
Sidney Harry Fox was a forger, a thief and a compulsive liar. He supported his mother Rosaline to whom he was devoted. When money ran out, they travelled the country together, living the high life while defrauding hotels.
On 16 October 1929 they arrived in Margate and checked into the Metropole, by the jetty. Seven days later, Rosaline Fox was found dead in her burning bedroom. Though there were no marks whatsoever on her, the Home Office pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury claimed she had been strangled to death.
Sidney was charged with her murder.
The case was a sensation in its day and put Margate firmly in the news. But questions remain. Was he guilty?
Now, an original drama based on the real events comes to Margate Museum.
Sidney Fox’s Crime was first performed at Above The Stag Theatre in London last year. Written and directed by Glenn it asks the question, ‘What exactly was Sidney Fox’s crime?’
The play takes place in the magistrates court where Sidney appeared and runs 75 minutes without an interval. It is a Boys of the Empire Production for Margate Museum. There are two performances only.
The cast includes Amanda Bailey as Rosaline Fox, Sebastian Calver as Sidney Fox and Lewis Allcock as J.D. Cassels.
Glenn has also written a book on the case which is due to be published this Summer and he has vowed to return to the museum for a novel launch.
He said: “This is quite a first, I have never done any theatre that wasn’t in an actual theatre before. Once the museum cabinets are cleared there is quite a big space that we can make like a theatre.
“I have been steeped in crime for a long time and have written quite a few true crime dramas for TV, such as The Brides in the Bath and A is for Acid, and then I had the opportunity to do it for the stage.
“I was interested in Sidney Fox and have been researching him for a couple of years, discovering so much more about him.”
Glenn has visited Margate three times so far as part of his research. He also spent two weeks at the National Archives in Kew going through every document, witness statements and affidavits from the trial which were stored in six large boxes and visited the cottage in Norfolk where Sydney had been brought up.
He met museum Trust chairman Robin Haddon via the vegan restaurant Robin owns in Primrose Hill and the plan for the theatre show sprung from there.
Robin said: “As chairman of the Margate Museums Trust I am always looking at ways to encourage activities within the museum and draw sponsorship, donations, funding, and attention to this very central gem in the Old Town;
“I have managed to arrange for TV scriptwriter, actor and crime book author, Glenn Chandler to come to Margate in mid-June to stage the play about Sidney Fox and the crime and trial, actually at the museum.
“This will take place over a Saturday early evening and then again the Sunday late afternoon of the same weekend in order to give options and preferences to those wishing to attend this unique and apt event focussed in Margate.
The play and tickets will be widely promoted both in Thanet and indeed in London and amongst Glenn’s huge following and contacts nationwide. We hope this will raise some good additional funds to keep the museum maintained in terms of monthly bills for operational costs and emergency repairs where TDC remains unconcerned.
“Glenn will also launch his new crime book on Sidney James Fox – who was actually tried in the magistrates room and kept in the cells that form part of the Margate Museum (date dependent on when the book is returned from the publisher).
Sidney Fox’s Crime will be staged at Margate Museum on:
Saturday 17 June at 7pm, Sunday 18 June at 4pm. Play runs about one hour 15 minutes.
Tickets £20. Concessions for over 65 and under 16 are £16.
Tickets available through the Margate Museum website: https://www.margatemuseums.org/
Or direct from the Margate Museum, Market Place, Margate.
I wonder if local historian Peter Checksfield has ever written about crime. If so, it would be relatively easy for such a talented writer to sell his books via amazon, for example.