Reggie Kray’s wife Frances Shea’s diaries: Drunken abuse, weapons and constant isolation

Life with the East End gangster was every bit as dark as you might imagine

Reggie Kray slept with armoury of weapons by his bedside, a diary written by his late wife, Frances Shea, reveals.

Shea was married to the East End gangster for two years, before dying of an overdose when she was just 24.

She first met Kray at the age of 16 and married him in 1965 when she was 22. Her five-page diary – which is to be auctioned off tomorrow at Gorringes of Lewes, East Sussex – highlights the difficulties with living with her then husband.

“(He) came back night time. By the side of bed gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife,” she wrote.

“He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow.”

Also being sold are 60 letters written by Kray to Shea before they were married and while he was still in prison. The letters start as light and chatty in tone, before fast becoming controlling and aggressive.

 

In one he describes his future wife as a “spiteful little tormentor” after she “humiliated” him by going dancing with her friends.

Her diary describes how isolated she felt living at their Marble Arch flat, repeatedly being subjected to his swearing and drunken, abusive behaviour.

“(Reggie) came in late every night drunk. Got up every morning two minutes to dress, left me all day came back late at night drunk.

“Went to his house - his brother walked in bedroom in underwear, swore at me.

“Went back to flat Marble Arch, came back night time.”

When she complained to her brother about the Krays gun collection, she was sworn at and the stash taken away by a local publican. Eventually, she was admitted to hospital “for some rest”.

“Him and his friend took me to the hospital, he was swearing and shouting at me in the car.”

 “Couldn’t stand it anymore - left him. When I was packing my suitcases to leave he told me he would bring up fictitious characters against.”
Ronnie and Reggie Kray with new wife Frances Shea in 1965 Shea tried to get their marriage annulled on the grounds that it was never consummated. Eventually, she died following a fatal drug overdose in 1967.

She was buried in the Kray family plot in Chingford, Essex, although her family unsuccessfully tried to have her exhumed and buried elsewhere under her maiden name, Shea.

“They had an unhappy marriage and it seems someone told Frances to write down incidents while she was trying to divorce Reggie,” said Jane Anderson, of auctioneers Gorringes of Lewes.

“It seems life with him was impossible. She spent most of her time alone in their flat and when he was there he was often drunk and he slept in a bed with various weaponry.

“When he was in prison it was safe for her to have a relationship with him.

“But on the outside, she was way out of her depth and was very frightened of Reggie, as anyone would have been."

Read more: Flowers, but no champagne at Reggie Kray's wedding
Reggie Kray sent home from prison to die
Reggie Kray interview: Ronnie died with no regrets
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence