FLETCHER FAMILY ARCHIVE. The Jura, Scotland - Southern African branch.Data capture and research notes. A work in progress.
ZIMBILIANA. Anecdotal. ROY KENNERLEY RUMFORD Over the years Peter often spoke with great admiration of someone he had become friendly with, a sort of alter ego, called Kennerley Rumford, who he said was the son of Dame Clara Butt, the famous contralto. I don't recall how they met, but Rumford at one time, probably in the Thirties, was in Bulawayo and spent some time at Zimbile farm. From Peter's anecdotes one gained the impression that he was the epitome of a gifted playboy, an ideal type of that generation. Good looking, energetic, athletic, charming. People couldn't help liking him. Today he would probably also be called hyperactive. On one of his first visits to the farm he asked if he could shoot some guinea fowl. He was given a shotgun and he went off and shot a flock of Ida's turkeys. He walked on and became lost, ending up after dark at Bembesi. He must have been charming, because Ida found it amusing. On another occasion with Peter they found an mpukunyoni in a tree and Kennerley wanted to catch it. They shook the tree and the animal tried to jump to another tree and fell short, and was caught in Peter.s hat. Kennerley was quite captivated and wanted to stroke it. He asked Peter if it would bite, and Peter said. How can something with a pretty little face like that bite? Kennerley put his finger into the hat. The pretty little face latched on. When playing tennis he would smash several racquets with his serves. One day with Lionel or Colin in his car he was chased by the police in Bulawayo. He drove all over town and around it for hours before running out of petrol, and then said to the police "You win", as after a game . One of the things Peter thought most impressive about him was his versatility, in everything, including dancing and music. There was a tearoom in town called the Devonshire Buttery, which often had a few girls playing music. Kennerley would go over and ask to play, and take over whatever instrument was offered . violin, viola, cello, - and would even sing. Peter said he eventually committed suicide. I seem to remember hearing he gassed himself in his car, having cut a perfect circle in the window for the gaspipe. Also that he had killed somebody in an accident. But of this detail I am not perfectly certain. I recently found on the internet that Clara Butt's husband was called Kennerley, and that she had two sons, the elder dying of meningitis, and the younger from suicide. * * * [Neil Fletcher. Nannup, Western Australia. 28.02.2007. © ] ======== POSTSCRIPTS: Further internet discovery: Clara Butt also had a daughter. A number of relatives surviving today. Also: a photo in National Portrait Gallery. London: "Dame Clara Ellen Butt and Robert Henry Kennerley Rumford with their family". Two children sitting at the feet of their parents are Master Roy Rumford and Miss Joy Rumford. There are a number of other family photographs in which Roy Rumford appears. His dates are given 1904-1923. So he was more or less the same age as Peter. In 1923 Peter 20. So the events recounted might have been those of late teenagers. Clearly in his anecdotes (above) Peter Fletcher might not have known Rumford's first name. People of that generation commonly called people by their surnames. Modified: 12.02.2020