Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Constance Lloyd’

Oscance: Toasting Oscar and Constance Wilde

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 30th May, 2016

Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd on 29 May 1884 at St. James’s Church, Paddington, a short walk from the bride’s grandfather’s house in Lancaster Gate. For the past dozen years or so, that event has been commemorated at the church with an afternoon ceremony called Oscance, with readings, interviews and performances. But yesterday’s commemoration was special, as it centred on the unveiling by their only grandson, Merlin Holland, of a beautiful memorial to the couple, made by he young letter-cutter, Thomas Sergeant. As one of the Patrons of the Oscar Wilde Society, I was then asked asked to propose a toast (with prosecco), which I did as follows:

Wilde plaqueEvery time I come to St. James’s, I can feel the presence of Oscar Wilde. Spooky, as Dame Edna Everage would say, though spooky in a most pleasant way. He’s up there somewhere, among the rafters, looking down on us. But he’s not alone, because half concealed behind one of the pillars — not hiding, but watching the proceedings with a wry smile on her face — is Constance. As was mentioned in the reading from Franny Moyle’s biography, Constance was a strong character in her own right — for example, being an active member of the Chelsea Women’s Liberal Association — though the drama of Oscar’s later life left her overshadowed. I sometimes wonder how things would have been if the couple had lived a hundred years later, in our own, more liberal age. But maybe there would not have been this more liberal age had it not been for the lesson of the downfall of Oscar Wilde. It is most fitting now that all the planning and commissioning and the tooling of the memorial are complete that Oscar and Constance in the form of the beautiful plaque will now greet everyone who comes into this church and will bid us farewell this afternoon. I therefore ask you to raise your glasses: to Oscar and Constance!

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Frying Tonight

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 30th May, 2009

Stephen FryI’m increasingly being asked, ‘So, what are you going to do after the election, then?’, to which the obvious response is: ‘that depends on the result!’ But because the UK votes on Thursday, whereas most of the Continent only goes to the polls at the weekend, the results of the European elections won’t be known in London until Sunday evening. Which leaves a hiatus of  almost three days.

 Jonathan Fryer 017The Friday plan is easy, as it’s my birthday and I’ll have to clear all the accumulated clutter from the house in preparation for an early evening party for my fellow candidates and election team, to thank them for all their hard work (which is still going on!). But Saturday is more ‘exotic’ and totally non-political, as Stephen Fry and I — both Patrons of the Oscar Wilde Society — have a long-standing engagement to perform at ‘Oscance’: the 125th anniversary of the wedding of Oscar Wilde to Constance Lloyd, at St James Paddington, compered by the broadcaster Christopher Cook. Stephen will be interviweed about playing Oscar in the film ‘Wilde’, as well as reading the story ‘The Young King’. I will be reading passages relating to the theme ‘Wilde about London’.

Tickets for the event are available only through advance booking, for a donation of a minimum of £15 each (the Church is raising funds to erect a beautiful screen in Wilde’s memory), available from Oscance, 39 Westbourne Gardens, London W2 5NR. Bookings asap. The performance is on Saturday, 6 June, starting at 3pm, with sparkling wine and canapés.

Link: http://www.stjamespaddington.org.uk

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Oscance 2008

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 7th June, 2008

This afternoon I took part in the Oscance event at the Church of St James the Less in Paddington, to commemorate the wedding there of Oscar Wilde and Constance Lloyd. The broadcaster Christopher Cook compered the programme, which included a dramatic reading of the Wilde children’s story, ‘The Happy Prince’, piano music (incuding the ‘Oscar Mazurka’ and the ‘Aesthetic Waltz’) played by Donald MacKenzie and a reading by me from my book André & Oscar.  Oscar Wilde Society members were well represented in the audience. Sparkling rosé wine and canapés were served before, during and after the event, an indulgence of which Oscar would, I am sure, have approved. But there was a serious side to the proceedings, as there is much that is tragic not only about Oscar Wilde’s life but also about Constance’s. She died in Genoa without ever seeing her husband after he was released from prison, having essentially lost him to Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. Next year’s Oscance will mark the 125th anniversary of the wedding, so there will be an extra-special event in the Church. The date is already fixed in the diary: Saturday 6 June, at 3pm.

Links: www.stjamespaddington.org.uk www.oscarwildesociety.org.uk

  

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