Secret scandal surrounding local fishmonger

9th September

The Horam war memorial lists ‘R Felgate’ among its WW1 fallen.  When war broke out, Roland Felgate enlisted in Eastbourne into the Royal Sussex Regiment and died around the 14th July 1916 aged 21.  His body was never recovered and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.  But Roland’s last name was not really Felgate.

Felgates Fishmongers at the end of the block (now ’All Dressed Up’ Fancy Dress Shop) with their advertising sign on the brick wall

Five years before the war, the Felgate family arrived in Horeham to set up a fishmongers shop.  Arthur and Olive Felgate and their six children quickly integrated into community life, where they often took part in plays and musical events in the village.  It seems they were popular and well respected local shopkeepers – their business must have been quite successful as by 1911 they had employed a domestic servant to help Olive at home.

No one would have ever suspected that Arthur and Olive were not all they seemed to be.  And the local community probably never discovered the truth.

The truth was that Arthur’s real name wasn’t Arthur Felgate but Arthur Bloyce, he was married – but not to Olive – and none of the children were his.  Felgate was a fictious name.  And the entry in the 1911 census, completed by Arthur stating that he had been married to Olive for 25 years and was the father to her six children was a lie.

Much earlier in 1901, Arthur and his second wife Selina were running a grocers in Egham, Surrey with their daughter Emily.  In 1908, Arthur was fortunate to receive the entire estate of a Robert Rees (£260 5s 4d) and it seems he used this money to set up a new life for himself – with Olive Rees, Robert’s widow and her six children – away from Egham, abandoning his wife and daughter.

A newspaper advertisement for Felgates in the Sussex Express

And it must have been a lie all the children would have been forced to follow by changing their name from Rees to Felgate when they joined the Horeham community.

After Roland’s death in the war, Olive and Arthur relocated back to Surrey. Roland’s name also appears on the WW1 Memorial at Virginia Water as R Rees – his real name. 

The Horam war memorial

Arthur and Olive never married – probably because Arthur’s wife Selina outlived him and he was never free to – but he did leave his estate to Olive Rees when he died in 1927 – £84 18s 1d.

This article has been published with kind permission of historian and author Nicola Walker.