Author Topic: Michaelís Death  (Read 136 times)

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Michaelís Death
« on: June 09, 2019, 06:10:06 PM »
I went to Sandford Weir this week and also to Michaelís grave in Hampstead but the more I read about Michael and his sad life the more questions I seem to have. So, can anybody help with some or all of my questions? Some my appear trivial but the more one reads about the Davies family the more interested one becomes.
(1) Why did Michael and Rupert go to Sandford Weir? It is nearly 5 miles from Christ Church. Surely there must have been closer and safer parts of the Thames to swim.
(2) Michael was scared of swimming so why swim in deep water?
(3) Iíd read recently that Michael might have had a heart attack whilst struggling in the water.
(4) They walked to Sandford. Why not cycle?
(5) If they were in danger why not call out for help? Michael was a few weeks away from his 21st birthday. Maybe he didnít want to reach adulthood. It seems to me that it was a suicide pact.
(6) Michael studied at Christ Church. Does anybody know which was his room? What did he do in his spare time? Did Barrie visit him in Oxford.
(7) What is also very sad is that his grave in Hampstead is overgrown and neglected. Are there no family members alive who can keep an eye on his grave? The wording and spacing on his grave is very odd. Who attended his funeral?
Any ideas? Suggestions? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Nicholas

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 03:13:07 PM »
There are no definitive answers but in your order of questions:
Sandford is less than 5 miles from Oxford and is generally much quieter than the Thames nearer Oxford.  Latterly, Michael and Rupert tended to avoid their fellow students.
Michael attempted to learn to swim before at Silchester Road baths in North Kensington and may have been having lessons from Rupert. 
The post mortem examination did not mention a heart attack, but who knows how thorough it was.
They enjoyed walking together.
Witnesses did hear a shout.  There is no evidence of a suicide pact, and I wonder how much Peter Pan figured in Michael's life in 1921.
You will find at least one of Michael's Oxford addresses on this website.  Michael's private life is not well recorded, but he was visited by Barry occasionally.
It's up to the Davies family to look after the grave.  In a way, I like the idea that it is decaying as it reminds us that this story is approaching its 100th anniversary, and Andrew's wonderful book and television play are (incredibly) nearly 50 years old.  The funeral was a very unhappy event for everyone and you will find the names of some of the people who attended on this website.
May 2021 will mark the centenary of the accident at Sandford, and so the official papers (whatever has been kept) will be opened to the public.

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 10:15:16 PM »
Thank you for that Nicholas. I read somewhere that an autopsy wasnít carried out at the time. What reasons would they have for withholding information? You mentioned that Michael had drawn apart from his friends. Do you know why? From all accounts he seemed a very likeable young man. As Oxford is a bicycle city why do you think he didnít cycle to Sandford Weir?

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 10:39:00 PM »
Could you tell me whereabouts is the topic on Michaelís funeral. Who attended the funeral?

Nicholas

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 04:30:41 PM »
This was 1921 and just after a world war when tens of thousands of young men were killed.  The coroner was not necessarily a medical man, and even if he was he may not have been willing to undertake a full post mortem if foul play was not suspected. I doubt that information was deliberately withheld but drownings of undergraduates were/are not uncommon and the coroner would not have wanted to delay the burial of the two boys.  Please do not make up a conspiracy theory.  Michael had arrived at Oxford with a group of friends he had known at Eton and he had outgrown them.  Who knows why they didn't ride bicycles?  Or maybe they did, and no one bothered to mention it.

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 09:49:03 PM »
Iím certainly not making up a conspiracy theory in any way, as a historian myself Iím just very interested in all the events surrounding the story. Thereís very little definite facts about this event so any information is interesting. Sorry if my questioning upset you.

Brutus

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2019, 09:11:10 AM »
To add to Nicholas's excellent answers to mb0521's questions:

- according to witnesses (and Andrew Birkin's research), Michael and Rupert greeted friends on the way to the pool and seemed in a good mood, which doesn't sound like the behaviour of someone planning to commit suicide
- as Nicholas said, there was no foul play suspected, so no need for a full scale post mortem, which wouldn't have been standard procedure at the time.
- Michael's grave is in no worse state than some of the others in the churchyard, or other old cemeteries in London. It's sad, but unless descendants live nearby or can afford to maintain the graves, there's little that can be done. The only surviving descendants of the Llewelyn Davies boys are Nico's daughter Laura, who must be over 80, and her son, who live outside London.
- as far as I can see, there's nothing odd about the spacing or the wording on the stone. This seemed pretty standard for the time.

Nicholas

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 04:10:57 PM »
mb0521 All the answers to your questions are here on this website, you just have look. As far as the accident goes there is nothing more to be said - unless new information comes along. If you would like to break new ground, you could try writing to the current head of the Hogg family and see if they have kept any correspondence from their relative Edward Marjoribanks, who was a friend of Michael's and was deeply disturbed by his death.  If you do find something please share it.

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Michaelís Death
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2019, 04:53:12 PM »
Iím struggling to find where Michael lived when he was in Oxford. Can anybody help?