Fry's Island

Fry's Island
The upstream point of the island. The yellow sign indicates the ferry to the Island Bohemian Club.
The downstream point of the island, with Demontfort House.
The bowling green.

Fry's Island, also known as De Montfort Island, is an island in the River Thames in England. The island is on the reach above Caversham Lock at Reading, Berkshire. The centre of Reading is to the south and the suburb of Caversham to the immediate north.

Fry's Island is a natural island, the only access to it being by boat. It is home to a private house (Demontfort House), a boatyard with a residence (Caversham Boat Services) and a private bowling club (the Island Bohemian Club). Each of these occupants runs their own private ferry service.[1]


Fry's Island is famous as the location of the duel between Robert de Montfort and Henry of Essex, the standard bearer to King Henry II.[citation needed] The duel took place while the court was in residence at Reading Abbey in 1163. Robert had accused Henry of Essex of cowardice and treason, because he dropped the standard and called out the King was dead during a previous battle with the Welsh. Henry of Essex denied these charges.[2]

King Henry decreed that this dispute must be resolved in a trial by combat, to be undertaken on what is now Fry's Island. At the height of the combat, Henry of Essex fell wounded and, in the belief he was dead, the King ordered the monks to carry him away and bury him. However he was not dead, and the monks nursed him back to health. Because he had lost the combat he was adjudged guilty and stripped of his lands; however he was permitted to become a monk at the abbey where he remained for the rest of his life.[2]

The first reference to the Island Bohemian Club dates back to 1908, when it held an annual general meeting under the name of the Old Codgers Club. The present name was adopted in 1909, and purchased the freehold of its part of the island in two phases in 1961 and 1968.[3]

Demontfort House was built in 1897. During WW2 the house was used as an American Services 'club'. In the 1960s the house operated as the 'Blue Beat Island Club', the club was the subject of a police raid in 1965.[citation needed]

Caversham Boat Services was established in 1970. The residence and large workshop are housed in the former Reading Rowing Club building built in 1893. The adjacent boatyard of Bridge Boats was established in 1958 as a builder of wooden boats, becoming a boat hire business in the 1980s. The business was taken over and merged with Caversham Boat Services in 2009.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Location". Island Bohemian Bowling Club. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  2. ^ a b Ford, David Nash. "Trial by Combat at Reading". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 2004-12-01. 
  3. ^ "Club History". Island Bohemian Bowling Club. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
Next island upstream River Thames Next island downstream
Pipers Island Fry's Island De Bohun Island

Coordinates: 51°27′47″N 0°58′25″W / 51.46318°N 0.97361°W / 51.46318; -0.97361

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