about Ralph Fry

My paternal grandmother was the sister of Ralph Fry from Kingsbury Episcopi (meaning belonging to the Diocese of Bath and Wells not Muchelney Abbey, on the Somerset Levels) where, with the village of Barrington (1593), 13 generations of Males have come from. My grandmother married Jeremiah Male.

Ralph was well known as a restorer of churches and stately homes. At its height his company employed 72 craftsmen: skilled wood and stone carvers as well as carpenters, lead workers and masons. They worked on 140 churches in the Diocese of Bath & Wells alone, as well as St George's Chapel Windsor, Wilton House, St David's Cathedral, Montacute House and many other sites. At home he enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a 'dowser' or water diviner. He was the son of a stone carver (my great grandfather) - and was himself a notable woodcarver. I remember as a child seeing a rose emerge from a piece of oak at his behest. That, combined with his down-to-earth wisdom and his skill as a water diviner made of him a Merlin-like character in the family.

As a youngster I used to spend time in his workshops. Both my grandfathers died before I had the privilege of meeting them so my great uncle was an important figure in my life. He died without issue and, as far as I know, we are the last of his blood relatives.

I created the site and photographed the churches over several years as a tribute, having enlisted the support of Bishop Peter of Bath and Wells and Hugh Playfair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee. My thanks to them and to the late Peter Bird of the Caroƫ Partnership in Wells for their encouragement.