The scandalous Beatie Sumner at Hatchlands Park

A photograph of Beatie Sumner at Hatchlands Park

Celebrated beauty, Beatrice Holme-Sumner was born on 12 July 1862 at Hatchlands Park, her family tree sprinkled with royalty and notable ancestors. A controversial figure known for her strong will and defiant nature, Beatie was born to shock society.

From socialite to scandal

In 1885 scandal broke and hit the front pages. Beatie appeared in court with a man twice her age; he was married with five children. She and Charles Hoare, a banking heir, were accused of breaking a court ruling forbidding them to have contact. They’d been living together for two years but had first met years before.
As the scandal unfolded it emerged that Beatie had been banished to live with relatives at remote Berkeley Castle. Her father, Arthur Sumner, discovered that Charles had been found in Beatie's bedroom ‘in circumstances which he could not satisfactorily explain’. Undeterred, the couple continued to exchange letters. It was even rumoured that Beatie had staged a riding accident leading her to be bedridden, and therefore closer to Charles.
At the end of his tether, Arthur shockingly had Beatie declared a ward of court, the couple now legally bound against communicating. Arthur’s troubles continued in other areas of life as his debts mounted. Astonishingly, as a solution to the family's financial worries, Mrs Sumner demanded £3,000 from Charles Hoare and left the country for Germany with Beatie and her Uncle Fitz in tow. In yet another twist, unknown to Mrs Sumner, Fitz already owed money to Charles Hoare and ended up passing letters between the forbidden couple.

The fall...

In 1883 Beatie turned 21 and, no longer under court protection, moved in with Charles instantly. It was not to be happily ever after, the relationship crumbling when Charles heard about the contempt of court case being built against him. Fitz confessed his involvement alongside testimonies from servants who had been party to their secret meetings.
Mrs Georgina Sumner, Arthur's wife
Georgina Sumner and children
Mrs Georgina Sumner, Arthur's wife

Beatie and Charles got off lightly, being ordered to pay court costs but the scandal caused shockwaves through polite society. Beatie’s father fled to Malta and, never to return, her mother sought sanctuary from the scandal in Geneva. Uncle Fitz’s reputation lay in tatters and another uncle, Colonel Kingscote who’d brought the case to court, was forced to resign from parliament and withdrew from public life entirely.

...and rise

Happily, Beatie retained her spirit and independence and she went on to live an incredible life. She spent time aboard the naval training ship Mercury, eventually married cricketing superstar CB Fry. Together, the pair became a famous society power couple.