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Sell-off is tall order
3:00pm Sunday 22nd April 2012 in News
Clothes from an 8ft 4.5ins giant, who lived at The Barge Inn, Seend in the 1910s, will go on auction later this month.
Fred Kempster, best known as the English Giant, lived at the village pub, which was being run by his sister Ruth, for a while after returning from Germany.
He had been held as a prisoner in the country after the outbreak of the First World War.
Fred is also known to have lived for a time in a small house in Worton High Street, and he became a regular face in the Rose and Crown pub.
Keith Green, landlord at The Rose and Crown, said: “There are lots of rumours in the village, people from the village know about him. They talk about him playing darts in the pub and things like that. We still have a picture of him up here.”
Fred was born in Bayswater in 1889, one of seven children, and was 7ft 11ins by the age of 19. He was said to have reached 8ft 4.5ins tall, weighed 27 stone and is believed to be the tallest man to ever live in England.
In 1911 he joined Astely and Co’s American Circus and toured throughout Europe and America.
He was not allowed to join the army as he was seen as an easy target and was also lame in one leg, but was touring in Germany at the start of the First World War and was taken prisoner.
On his release he stayed at The Barge and eventually resumed his life as a circus star.
Luke Bailey, assistant manager at The Barge, said: “I’ve heard customers come in and say a giant used to live here. There used to be a book knocking around here that had a little bit more information about him.”
He was a popular figure in the west country and was also known as the Bath Giant and the Avebury Giant.
He had an expert knowledge of sport – especially cricket – and a great sense of humour, working for a while as a comedy act.
In 1918 he contracted pneumonia, and died in hospital in Blackburn on April 15, aged 29.
His long johns and a nightshirt were discovered by the family of one of Fred’s friends two years ago, and they will be auctioned at the end of the month in Yorkshire.
The clothes, with a 62ins chest, 29ins arms and an inside leg of 37ins for the long-johns, are expected to fetch £150-£200 at the auction at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn on April 28.