The Faversham Fox
I remember it as if it was yesterday, although it was many months ago now. I had returned from a visit to my good friend the Duchess of Nessex, but when I entered the house I realised there was not a sound in the place. Of course, I later learned that Mrs Hudson had been tightly bound and gagged in her flat, and left to watch Afternoon television, but I was totally unaware of it at the time.
I was wearing a grey flock jacket over a long white dress, the skirt of which came well below my knees and covered the tops of my black leather boots, but I was still unaware of what was going on - until I walked into the reception room and saw him there.
He was a tall man, thin, wearing a brown tweed suit and a white shirt, but the most remarkable thing about him, the thing I spotted first, was the mask he was wearing - it was a fox head, complete with ears. He was also holding a gun, and pointing at me as he said “Baroness Delaney, I presume? Please, do me the honour of coming towards me with your hands raised in the air.”
Well, if a man in a fox mask is pointing a gun at you, what do you do? I did exactly what he said, leaving my handbag and gloves on the occasional table as he turned me round, crossed my wrist behind my back and started to very effectively bind me.
His manners were impeccable for a robber, as we talked of local events while he secured my wrist tightly together, keeping the rope over the cuffs of my jacket, and then tied my arms tightly to my side with bands of rope above and below my chest. He even apologised for the way it made my jacket open slightly - most commendable.
He then helped me to sit on the floor, and passed two bands of rope around my thighs and my legs, pulling my skirt into them, and then around my ankles. He then explained he had come to rob the house, and asked me for the combination to the safe, so as to avoid unnecessary mess.
Well, what else could I do? I told him what he needed to know, and then watched as he emptied the safe of my valuables and some of my husband’s documents. He then thanked me, rolled me onto my side and pulled my ankles back, making the leather squeak as he tied them to the ropes around my chest.
Oh yes - before that he took one of my scarves and pushed it into my mouth, before tying a wide white scarf tightly over my mouth and round my head.
So I was left there, unable to move or raise the alarm until the return of my husband - only when the police arrived and I mentioned the mask did I realise who he was, and who I had met.
The man who had robbed the Baroness was indeed well known to the police by that time - he went by the name of The Faversham Fox, and had earned a reputation for very high class robberies in the Home Counties. Over a period of some ten years, he was responsible for a string of break ins, kidnappings and robberies, before he seemed to just disappear. Tonight, on Behind The Mask, we look at his career and ask - what happened to him?
The first major incident which used the MO for which the Fox was best known occurred a year or so earlier, at the country house of Sir Terrence Forbes Mason, the well known city banker. He was not at home at the time, but his daughter, the honourable Audrey Forbes Mason, was. We went and asked her to relive that day...
I had being on a lunch date with the girls at the local inn, and it was an autumnal day, so I had on a grey silk roll neck sweater under my short sleeved light blue top. There was a string of pearls round my neck as always, and I was wearing soft suede boots under my long skirt.
At any rate, I was sitting in the drawing room when I heard the front door bell, and then Samantha, my maid, walking to answer it. I heard some muffled conversation, and then a thump, before the most extraordinary man walked in and looked at me.
He was dressed in a dinner suit, complete with stiff fronted shirt and white bow tie, but his head was that of a brown fox. He looked at me, and said “My apologies dear lady, but I have come to relieve you of your goods and chattel. I hope you will not try to stop me?”
“where is Samantha?” I said as I stood up. He then pointed a pistol at me, and said “Please, turn and put your hands behind your back, and then I will show you.”
I allowed him to bind my wrists with rope, and then he walked me out of the drawing room and into the hallway. That was when I saw Samantha sitting against the wall, her head to one side with her eyes closed. She had white tape around her upper body and legs, and a wide strip over her mouth as she breathed in and out through her nose.
“Come,” he said as he dragged me towards the cellar door, and we walked down. I had no idea how he knew that was where our safe was, but somehow he did, as he made me kneel against the wall and then bound my ankles tightly together, the rope sinking into the soft suede as it pressed against my legs.
I had to watch as he opened the safe and took everything, then he said “Forgive me,” as he held a folded handkerchief and a long white cotton scarf in his hands. I opened my mouth, allowing him to silence me, and then watched as he climbed the staircase, and - well, he obviously raided the rest of the house, before leaving me down below and Samantha in the hallway.
It was Samantha who eventually raised the alarm - this wonderful constable came down and freed me some hours later. I mean, the man who did this to me was charming as well, but he was a robber so I wasn’t meant to like him, right?
The Faversham Fox appeared at first to have appeared on the criminal scene out of nowhere, but police believe her had actually conducted a number of audacious robberies prior to becoming the Fox. There were a number of incidents in which wealthy women were robbed, but their ordeal started before they even returned home. Lady Honoria Black was one such person.
I had attended a meeting of the Board of Trustees for one of the many charities I support, and as always had booked a limousine to return me to my country home. There are two or three drivers I usually ask for, but on this particular day the driver was unknown to me. I asked what had happened to my usual driver, and he said he had been taken ill, so he would be taking me home today.
Well, I was running late, and I had a soiree to attend that evening, so I just got into the back of the car and waited as he drove off. We engaged in some small talk, and then I asked if he would raise the divider and allow me to think in peace and quiet.
This he did - and then I fell asleep. When I came to, I was horrified to find that my arms had been pulled behind my back, and my wrists tied together with rope - the same rope that was tied around my ankles as I looked down, seeing the white band over my dark hose. I also had some sort of cloth tied between my lips.
“Whtrudng,” I called into the intercom, only for the driver to say “Remain calm your ladyship - I am taking you home, but when we are there I shall be relieving you of your valuables. In the meantime, I suggest you enjoy the drive.”
Well, I was indignant - he had somehow bound and gagged me, and now I was in the back of a limousine, driving at about fifty miles an hour up the M11, with the doors locked and no way of raising the alarm - he had taken my purse and case into the front with him!
Instead I struggled, the buttons of my chartreuse jacket threatening to burst open and reveal the rather daring top of my black dress, but I was too tightly bound, as he pulled up outside the house. My husband was away, and he must have known I would be alone that night, as he made me get out of the car and hop into the front hallway.
From there, he took me into the library, and made me indicate where the safe was, before he sat me in a wooden chair and lashed me to it. He even took my pearls off me and pocketed them, before emptying the safe of money and other valuables, and then leaving me there, unable to move or call for help.
It was hours later before the housekeeper called me and raised the alarm. I alerted the firm I use, but they said that had not received a booking for me that day - so he had intercepted it somehow. For the life of me, I have no idea how...
Even though he was not formally known at that time as The Faversham Fox, it was obvious that this was an unusually skilled and formidable criminal planner at work. These robberies continued for some time - one of the last cases involving Lady Carolina Greenwood, the young wife of the Earl of Rochesterford...
I was out for the evening in Knightsbridge with some of my friends, and had full intended to wait to be picked up by my husband, but at about ten he called to say he had been held up, and a car was coming to get me. It was summer, so I had on a brown sleeveless top and a grey flecked long skirt, with baggy brown leather boots that had the cutest heels...
Oh, sorry - anyway, I left the restaurant, clutching my little grey handbag, and saw a young man waiting by a car. He called for Lady Greenwood, so naturally I walked towards it. The car was in a darker parking bit, but I didn’t think anything of it - not even when I felt something prick my arm...
How long I was out for I don’t know, but when I came to I was in the back of the vehicle, sitting with my legs bent. I could feel rope around my wrists behind my back, and as I looked down I saw the band above and below my chest, holding my arms into the side.
What was worse was the squeaking noise as I tried to move my legs, and I realised that under my skirt my ankles had been tied tightly together. It was then I tried to speak, and realised a knotted cloth had been pulled between my lips, muffling anything I was trying to say in protest.
“Ah good, you’re awake,” the man driving said, and he turned to look at me through a half face mask in the shape of a fox. “stay calm, your ladyship - I am taking you home.”
Well, on the one hand, he was doing what I thought he was going to do, but bound and gagged? I figured it was a prank on my husband’s part, so I decided to play along and wait to see what happened. I never knew he had this kinky a side, was my thinking - boy was I wrong.
I looked down and saw my purse was open, my mobile falling out, and I thought for a moment about using it, but if this was a prank by my husband, then I didn’t want to spoil it. Later on, I found out he had taken the battery out, but hey...
So we get home - and the house is in darkness. He used my keys to open the door, then carried me in and laid me out on an old Turkish ottoman we have in the front room. It’s then her tells me he’s going to rob the place - and I realised this is not a joke. I tried to struggle free, but he put a firm grip on me and told me in no uncertain terms not to move.
So I didn’t, not even when he left me alone and ransacked the bedrooms. I had been taken totally by surprise - and all I could think of was that fox mask, and the blue eyes peering at me from under it...
The Fox seemed to progress from this to the style of approach for which he is better known now. The first question most people asked was why a fox? Was it some form of protest against the hunting fraternity whom he seemed to target so frequently? Was he perhaps a groundsman or a gamekeeper?
At any rate, the police were baffled - but an easier question to ask was why Faversham. This came from the first recorded incident of him robbing a stately home - Lady Margaret, the Duchess of Faversham, relives that night...
It was the night of the 2005 Faversham Hunt Ball - my husband is the chairman of the Hunt, and it is my duty and responsibility to host this grand event. This particular evening, I was wearing a night blue strapless dress with a gold trim at the top of the bodice, and my usual dark hose with pumps. The dress was slightly daring - a lit at the side from skirt hem to waist - but it was still befitting of my standing and position. I had my blonde hair up, and was wearing a ruby and sapphire necklace. I also had opera gloves on - part of the uniform.
Anyway, the evening was a success until - well, until the man in the fox outfit turned up. Have you seen that adverts for that bottled beer - Old Speckled Hen? Well, when he came in he looked just like that - tweed jacket, shirt with cravat, trousers, shoes - and a full head fox mask.
The people who saw him thought it was a fabulous joke, and I have to admit that at first I thought it was a prank played by my husband as well. I could not see him in the room, so I actually went as far as to assume it was him - a foolish assumption as thing turned out, but at the time I knew no better.
He bowed and danced with some of the ladies, before he came over and bowed, offering his hand as he said “Shall we dance?” I smiled in return and accepted the invitation, and he was a most pleasant dancer as we waltzed across the room, the audience clapping and applauding. It was when he danced me out of the room, and produced a small pistol from the pocket of his jacket, that I realised something was wrong.
“Upstairs, if you please,” he said in the same polite, but now firm manner, and taking my arm he marched me up to my bedroom - which is where I saw my husband, lying unconscious on the bed with his wrist and ankles tied.
“If you would be so good as to empty your jewellery boxes into this bag?”
I looked at him as he pointed the gun at me, and held out a small black velvet bag, and I knew this was a robbery. Well, I had no choice - I gave him what he wanted, then winced as he spun me round, pulled my arms behind my back and tied my wrist tightly together with rope. I was just glad I had my gloves on to offer me some sort of protection as the cords rubbed against me.
Smiling, he then walked me back down the stairs, past the party, and into the cellar, where he sat me on the floor and tied my ankles tightly together. Taking a small piece of cloth, he then made me open my mouth and allow him to push it in, before he tied one of my own white silk scarves tightly over my lower face to keep the cloth in place.
“My apologies for the inconvenience,” he said as I struggled, kicking off one shoe as I did so, then he waved at me and left. It was over an hour before one of the waitresses we had hired for the evening found me, and the police were called.
The police later discovered that the Fox had slipped into the party as one of the waiters, but the audacity of his approach and the value of the stolen goods meant he was soon very well known to the police, and the name of The Faversham Fox stuck.
His most recent visit was to the country home of Lord and Lady Delaware, just over a month ago. Lord Delaware, the Ambassador to the United States, was in London on business, leaving his fifty year old wife Lady Antonia Delaware alone with her housekeeper. She takes up the story.
Paula had just served afternoon tea for me in the office, where I was engaged in writing some letters, when we heard the front doorbell ring. I was still in the outfit I had worn for the Charity Commission that morning - a purple coat dress with a wide black belt and matching heels, while Paula had a grey dress with a white apron and flat shoes.
At any rate, I returned to looking at my letters, sipping my tea when she went to answer the ringing. When she did not return for a while, I merely presumed it was a delivery or a visitor that she had got rid of. Well, it was a visitor, but she had not managed to get rid of him.
I had got up out of my chair, and turned to look out of the large bay windows, idly playing with my necklace as I did so, when I saw the most unusual sight reflected in the glass. It looked for all the world like the puppet in that Roald Dahl film - but then I heard it say “Please, Your Ladyship, do not scream or make any sudden moves” and I saw the gun in the gloved hand under the head.
“Oh my goodness,” I said as I turned round, and saw him standing there, “I’ve heard of you. You’re the Faversham Fox, correct?”
He nodded, the whiskers on his mask bobbing up and down, and said “Please, take a seat.” He indicated a simple wooden seat by the side, so I sat down and watched as from somewhere he produced several lengths of white cloth.
Within fifteen minutes, he had secured me to the chair, with my wrist tied behind my back with one length of cloth, then my ankles tied to the front legs, the band of cloth cinched with a shorter length. He had used two more pieces of cloth - one in my mouth, and one over it to keep me quiet.
He then left for a few minutes, before carrying Paula in. She too had her wrists and ankles tied with cloth, and a length tied tightly over her mouth. Laying her on the floor, he said “You can keep each other company,” before he left us.
We did not see him again - he searched the house, and left us until my husband returned...
The Fox is still at large, and the police can only wait to see where he will strike again. When we return, we look at another legendary criminal - the woman known as The Vixen. Were the two linked? Find out after the break...
“Too much television can rot the brain, Your Ladyship - but it will stop people hearing you and your charming daughter for a while.”
She looked at her daughter, who was staring back at her from her position on the recliner. Her body was held firm with lengths of rope around her arms, legs and ankles, wrapping her long silk skirt and her cashmere jumper around her body, the leather of her short boots squeaking as she mewled through the plaster gag covering her mouth.
For her part, she was tightly lashed to the chair, her leather skirt pulled back as her suede covered ankles hung under the chair. The Fox looked at both of them, smiled and left them, as he began to search their house...