Tour, book signing and exhibition at Margate Museum on 94th anniversary of ‘Murder at The Metropole’

Sidney Fox was found guilty of murdering his mum at The Metropole Hotel Photo via Margate Museum

The 94th anniversary of Margate’s ‘murder at The Metropole’ will be marked with a number of events at the town’s museum.

Writer Glenn Chandler – best known as the creator of TV detective series Taggart –  staged his play of the true life crime tale at Margate Museum in June and he will be back next week for a book signing. There will also be a ‘crime location’ tour and dedicated exhibits at the museum.

The focus is the story of Sidney Fox and the murder of his mother Rosaline at the Margate Metropole Hotel on October 23, 1929.

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.

Sidney Fox with his mother Rosaline circa 1927 Photo via Margate Museum

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.

Sidney appeared at the magistrates court – now within Margate Museum –before being tried at Lewes Crown Court, found guilty and hanged in 1930.

The case was a sensation in its day and put Margate firmly in the news.

Taggart creator Glenn Chandler brings Sidney Fox’s Crime to Margate Museum

Glenn Chandler staged “Sidney Fox’s Crime” at the museum and has now released his book of the same name. He will be at the museum on October 23 for the book signing event.

The museum is also holding an exhibition from Saturday 21st October covering the crime. The exhibit will invite visitors to view the police cell where Stanley was held after his arrest, awaiting trial and to access the Magistrates Court where he was summarily tried for murder. There will also be a display of documents relating to the case. Visitors will be invited to decide for themselves whether he was in fact guilty or not. The display will be on view until the middle of December.

On October 23, there will also be a guided tour of the parts of Margate related to Sidney, his mother and her death in the fire at Room 66 of The Metropole Hotel.

Location of Solicitor Walter Wilson 3 Cecil Square ( Margate Museum via Margate Local History)

The tour starts from Droit House on the Stone Pier at noon and runs for an hour. It will end at Margate Museum where people can then meet Glen. Cost for the walk, drink and meet the author is £5.

To book call 07747 034091 or email [email protected]

Keeping the museum thriving

The event is part of Margate Museum Trust’s efforts to keep the venue thriving despite having no external funding.

The site, run by volunteers, shares its knowledge and collections with visitors ranging from tourists to local school events.

It also has an extensive archive for researching Margate history.

Margate Museums Trust is asking Thanet council to grant the leasehold for the building under a Community Asset Transfer.

Trust chairman Robin Haddon said: “The Trust is asking for is the leasehold of the building under a Community Asset transfer to ensure the future of the museum, to properly maintain it and develop it through funding from Arts Council, museum grants, Lottery etc.

“Thanet council is currently engaging, at substantial cost, a consultancy team to help ‘work out’ what to do with the museums of Thanet whilst they already have the huge benefit of the Museum’s Trust that they have entrusted the vast collection to over the past many years.”

Lease on the market

Margate’s Old Town Hall Photo Oakwood Commercial

Last year Margate’s Old Town Hall was put on the market by Thanet council on a long lease of £75,000 per annum with boutique hotel, business centre or retail uses suggested. It was marketed through Oakwood Commercial.

The Margate Museum site is not included in the lease. However, an offer totalling more than £750,000 to take the lease on the Old Town Hall, museum, Tudor House and attached units, was submitted to Thanet council by avid collector and long-standing Margate Museum benefactor Andrew Perloff.

Mr Perloff says he would contribute towards refurbishment and running costs and create museums holding a collection of taxidermy, fossils, seashells, minerals and ephemera through long-term loan articles from his extensive collection. He says the aim is to create a visitor attraction and an educational tool in a bid to help Margate offer “something unique.”

It is understood several expressions of interest for the Town Hall lease have been made and Thanet council said it was considering all offers received and carrying out due diligence on a number of them. There have been no further updates.

Museums’ review

Thanet council is also carrying out a strategic review of Thanet’s museums, with particular focus on Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs, Margate Museum and the Tudor House – which has remained shut this year due to damage from a break-in.

A tender notice for the review says: “The council owned museums need to be reshaped to ensure their security and sustainability in the future. The council is commissioning a short review of museums in Thanet, considering where the council owned museums are positioned, whether this has any implications on content and/or how they should be managed. This strategic oversight is needed to help understand the future of the publicly owned museums.”

The review contract was expected to begin in June and run until the end of the year.

Margate Museum opening times:

Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays​

11am to 3pm (last entry 2.15pm)

£2.00 entry fee – free for under 16’s

£1.50 for seniors

Market Place, Margate

Martin Charlton: Murder at the Margate Metropole (The Fox Murder, 1929)