Also known as
23 September 1943
7 June 1967 (aged 23)
- "Some of my fondest memories are of the nights I would take Frances to the cinemas in the West End of London. We would go to the Odeon in Marble Arch and in the darkness, once we were seated, I would glance round at Frances, who had the most beautiful brown eyes I have ever seen, and Frances would know I was looking at her, and she would smile as though pleased. Little things like this are what true love is really all about, and the secret type of incidents that make one’s heart sing."
- ―Reggie Kray, Born Fighter 1991
Frances Elsie Kray (neé Shea) (23 September 1943 - 7 June 1967) was the first wife to Reggie Kray, and the pair married on the 19th April 1965 at St James Church, Bethnal Green. Her marriage to Reggie Kray lasted only eight months when she left, although the marriage was never formally dissolved.
Her father, Frank Shea Sr., had run the gambling at The Regency Club in Stoke Newington, which is how she came to the attention of the twins. Her brother Frank Shea occasionally worked as a driver for the Krays and The Firm. An inquest came to the conclusion that she committed suicide in 1967, aged 23.
Frances was born in 1943 in Hoxton, London to Elsie Shea, a Shoreditch born twenty-one-year-old seamstress and Frank Shea Sr., a woodworker (aged twenty-six at the time) from Hoxton but of Irish descent. She was born at 57 Ormsby Street and was baptised on the 17th October 1943, by Father Henry Wincott. Frank Shea, her brother was born a month after World War II was declared and worked as an occasional driver for the Krays during the early 1960s. Frances first met Reggie Kray when she was sixteen through her brother but the pair did not become close until the 1960s.
In 1960, Reggie and Frances were in a relationship after she had left school and worked at the Strand in a clerical job. In February 1960, Reggie took her to the Astor Club in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square and in May that year they visited Jersey for a holiday. Frankie, Frances' brother had known Reggie for quite some time and he had been offered the chance to work in the Wellington Way club.
Reggie proposed to her in 1961, at Steeple Bay in Essex, when she was eighteen and he was twenty-seven. She refused, considering herself to be too young for marriage.
In May 1964, Pete Whelan, a then 21-year-old printer's apprentice from Clerkenwell, met Frances, then 20, at a Hackney Wimpy bar. He fell for her beauty and asked her out, sparking a fun three-month relationship, which included romantic trips to the theatre or pubs. Sometimes, when he dropped Frances off at her house, he would notice an MG Midget patrolling the street, driving past the parked van, but he thought nothing of it.
Reggie took her to Barcelona and to Milan and, in February 1965, he proposed to her again; this time, she accepted.
Marriage to Reggie Kray
- "Not merely was there not the faintest hope of either of them finding happiness together, but I could see them causing serious harm to one another"
- ―Father Hetherington, 1970
Frances and Reggie married on the 19th April 1965, at St James The Great Church in Bethnal Green when Frances was 22 and he was 31. The first priest, Father Hetherington they asked to officiate refused to do so, but a second one accepted. Many attended the wedding and this has been well documented in the photographs. Members of The Firm appeared, such as Pat Connolly and Limehouse Willy, as well as many of the Kray and Lee family, including Charlie Kray and his son Gary. Described as “The East End wedding of the year”, the nuptials, despite the weather, drew large crowds, all eager to catch a glimpse of the capital’s toughest criminal and his Bardot-esque bride. Frances wore a demure ivory satin and guipure lace gown with a short veil and perfectly coiffed beehive. Being attractive came natural to her, amongst other wonders.
David Bailey was the official photographer (the only wedding he has ever worked at) and celebrity guests, including actress Diana Dors, arrived at the church in Rolls Royces. Twin brother Ronnie was best man, natch, and to help with the media frenzy, the place was surrounded by steely looking men called ‘Big Pat’ and ‘The Dodger’. During the ceremony, some lacklustre hymn singing from guests was dealt with swiftly by minders venturing down the aisles and whispering firmly: “Reggie wants you to sing.” Frances’ mother Elsie, who was fiercely opposed to the match, wore black to the ceremony in protest.
A lavish reception followed at a Finsbury Park hotel where a snap of a petite Frances squished between the towering Reggie and Ronnie became one of the most iconic photos of the age.
For their honeymoon, the couple stayed in an Athens hotel. Reg went out drinking most night, often leaving his bride alone in their hotel. A series of diary entries in Frances's own handwriting chronicle some detail of their troubled marriage. Three months after the marriage, Frances left Reggie and returned to live with her parents.
Reggie suggested a second honeymoon at the end of June in Ibiza. She agreed and on 5 June 1965, Frances went for an appointment at Hackney Hospital and seemed in higher spirits. The following day, she saw Reg and they booked the tickets at a local travel agent. They farewelled each other at her brother's flat and Reg went home.
Frances Shea was the beautiful Irish girl from Bethnal Green, East London. Her father, Frank, had run the gambling at the Regency Club in Stoke Newington. And there, Frances met the infamous Kray twins. Ronnie Kray and Reggie Kray were foremost perpetrators of organized crime (gangsters) in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s.
Frances Shea met Reggie Kray when she was just sixteen. And after two years, Reggie proposed to her in 1961. However, Frances refused polity, considering herself to be too young for marriage because Reggie was 27 years old at that time. Even when Reggie Kray went to prison, he wrote several letters to her. After four years, He tried his luck again, and this time Frances Shea accepted. In 1965, despite the disapproval of her parents Reggie and Frances married at St. James’s Church in Bethnal Green. Even the priest refused to officiate the marriage, but the second priest accepted.
The couple planned their honeymoon in Athens, Greece. Two months after the marriage, Frances Kray left her husband and returned to live with her parents. She even attempted suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates. Reggie refused to leave her alone, and by 1967, the reconciled as a couple but not yet living together. The couple even planned a second honeymoon in Ibiza in the summer of 1967, but that did not happen. Reggie Kray abused Frances physically and emotionally. On one occasion, he cut his hand and forced her to watch it drip blood. Reggie Kray’s brother Ronnie Kray was homosexual; even Reggie was claimed to be bisexual. After their death, documents revealed that they had an incest relationship. Despite this, Reggie Kray was married twice.
On the 7th of June, 1967, Frances Shea attempted suicide by overdosing sleeping pills and took her life. She did at the age of 23. Reggie Kray paid for her funeral, which included substantial floral displays, including one over six feet tall in the form of a wreath spelling out her name. Her parents told Reggie Kray that their daughter’s last wish had been to revert to her maiden name, but he insisted that she be buried under her married name and wear her white satin wedding dress. However, Mrs. Shea persuaded the undertaker to clothe the corpse in tights and a slip, so that as little of her body as possible would be in contact with the hated dress.
After a few months, Reggie Kray murdered Jack D. McVitie, and he was arrested the following year and received life imprisonment. Before his arrest, Reggie visited Frances grave several times. When he was allowed to attend the funeral of his brother Charlie, he visited her grave and kissed the tombstone.
Reggie sat by my aunt’s body for two days
SWALLOWING the handful of pills, Frances Kray turned out the bedside light, lay down and waited to die.
She was lying in her niece’s bedroom, the niece she doted on, the niece who had shared the name she had before she married Reggie Kray.
Tears welling in her eyes Frances Shea says sadly: “I don’t know why she chose to die in my bed. I don’t know if it was because we were so close and she wanted to be near me at the end.
“I will never know.”
Read the first part of Frances’ interview here
Reggie’s wife - who Frances called Franie - died at the age of 23 in June 1967 less than two years after they married.
Frances says: “She had tried to kill herself before that night but always told my mum that she would never ‘do something stupid’ if I was in the house.
“Franie was staying at ours, but that night I went to stay with a friend and that’s when she took the overdose.”
Frances was only a little girl when her aunt died but she remembers vividly how Franie had changed in the months leading up to her death.
She said: “I remember two periods in that time, the one when Franie was fun, happy and singing all the time.
“And the time when it all changed. She was very quiet, frail, quiet and seemed delicate.
“She was very ill. I didn’t know it then but Franie had already tried a few times to kill herself.
“I remember the next morning after she died I was at a swimming pool with friends and my dad arrived. He told me ‘Franie’s gone, Franie’s gone’ he told me straight that she was dead, we were all crying.
“I never went back to that home after Franie died, we moved straight away, my mum couldn’t bear to be there.’
Over the years Franie’s death has been blamed totally on Reggie Kray.
His infamy as half of Britain’s most evil gangland duo, his murderous ways, his violence, all drove her to depression and suicide according to legend.
It’s what her parents always believed, but Frances is not so sure.
She says: “Reggie did really, really love her. Two days before she died he was at my mum’s house going through holiday brochures with Franie saying he was going to take her away somewhere nice.
“When she died he refused to let her body be taken away and sat next to it for two days, he was absolutely heartbroken.
“I think Franie would have got ill whoever she was married to. Mental illness wasn’t understood at all then and she didn’t get the right treatment. I don’t think Reggie being who he was helped, but I don’t think he drove her to it.”
Like her wedding, Franie’s funeral was a huge, lavish affair with all of the underworld’s top faces attending. Reggie sobbed throughout and had to be dragged away from the graveside by twin Ronnie.
Frances said: “My mum told me that after Frances’ death Reggie had cleared out all of Franie’s possessions, taking anything of worth.
“They included a Post Office savings book with £500 in it which my family were convinced he used to pay for the funeral.
“In one of her suicide notes Franie asked that I be given a necklace of hers, but Reggie took it and gave it to his mother Violet.
“All I got was a poodle pyjama case that Franie had on her bed which I still have.”
Franie’s order of service - which bears a beautiful photo of her - had a poem that Reggie claimed to have written for her.
It reads: “If I could climb upon a passing cloud that would drift you way, I would not ask for a more beautiful day.
“Perhaps I would pass a rainbow, with nature’s colours so beautifully aglow, if you were there at the the journey’s end, I would know it was the beginning and not the end.”
Leafing through the now faded and tattered order Frances, from North London, says: “My grandparents were absolutely broken-hearted by her death.
“It destroyed my dad, he was never the same after. I think he felt guilt that he had brought the twins into our family.
“My nan and grandad blamed Reggie totally. He had insisted that Franie be buried in her wedding dress but when they went to see her in the chapel of rest, nan took it off and dressed Franie in one of her favourite outfits before putting the wedding dress back on.
“Then she wrenched her wedding ring off, they were the last to see her body so Reggie never knew. It gave Nan great comfort to have done that.”
What tormented her nan though was that her daughter had not received her dying wish, outlined in a suicide note, that she wanted to be buried under the name of Frances Shea.
Frances says: “She had changed her name back by deed poll and she said in one letter that was the name she wanted to be buried under.
“My grandparents wanted her buried under that name in a cemetery where they could eventually join her after death.
“But Reggie refused to do that. Instead she was buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery with a huge, elaborate headstone bearing the name Frances Kray.
“My nan was devastated. To her dying day she fought to get that changed.
“She went to MPs, the Home Office - I can see her now clutching a piece of paper on which she had written her requests and crying because it had been turned down again.
“My nan would stand sobbing at Franie’s grave sobbing at the name on the gravestone and the fact that she was down there all alone.
“After my nan and granddad died, me and other relatives took some of their ashes to Franie’s grave and sprinkled them there so that they could all be reunited at last.”
Frances hates the fact her auntie’s grave, which lies next to the Kray’s mother Violet, and near to that of the twins themselves attracts ghouls and ‘Kray fans’ from all over the world.
Her grave also contains the body of the Krays’ nephew Gary who died from AIDs at the age of 44.
She said: “I just wish she wasn’t there with them so that she could be left in peace.”
In one of her suicide notes Franie asked for ‘her things’ to be left to Frances. They included letters, diaries and photos.
She said: “My father Frank had them and when he died they should have come to me. But instead his second wife put them up for auction.
“All I received was a tiny amount of photos and a postcard.”
After the sale excerpts from Franie’s diary in which she spoke of her life of torment with Reggie, who was jailed for life for the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie and only released from jail in 2000 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, were published last year.
An angry Frances said: “I was totally disgusted by that. They were the private writings of a poor young girl who was mentally ill. They should never have been published.
“My dad would have been horrified. I would never have published them, I would have protected Franie - respected her memory.”
“I fear now that the Franie in the film (Legend) will be based on those diaries and letters and that won’t be a true reflection of everything she really was.”
She says she will watch the movie but adds: “I know I will find it very traumatic.
“I’m hoping that it will honour Franie’s memory in a nice way but don’t hold up much hope of that.”
Over the years her name has brought her trouble. She said: “Once I was in a nightclub and a man threatened to shoot me! He’d had a run in with the twins and someone had pointed me out.
“But now I love and adore the name and am proud to bear it. I just wish it was the name that was on Franie’s headstone, not Frances Kray.”
Drunken abuse & a bedroom cache of weapons – Frances Kray's diary reveals life with Reggie
Frances Kray with Gangster husband Reggie[BNPS]
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Long-suffering Frances Kray wrote of the constant abuse and drunken temper bouts she endured at the hands of the East End villain.
Describing how Reggie kept an arsenal of lethal weapons in their bedroom, she said: "(He) came back night time. By the side of bed gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife.
"He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow."
The feared London gangster later took to keeping a loaded rifle by his bed after making sure every door and window of their home was locked, the journal reveals.
The diary records how Reggie often told Frances to 'shut your mouth' and that he would 'make her suffer' and torment her, suggesting he was having affairs with club hostesses.
Frances also wrote of how much time the notorious gangster spent at his mother's house, where his hard-man twin brother Ronnie walked around in his underwear.
Desperate Frances kept the log while she sought a way out of her unhappy marriage with Reggie.
She eventually committed suicide by taking a fatal drug overdose in 1967.
Her five-page diary, along with over 60 letters Reggie wrote to her while he was in prison before they were married, are now being sold by a direct descendant of her family.
The letters show a clear Jekyll and Hyde element to Reggie's personality, as he comes across as loving and affectionate in some but bitter and spiteful in others.
In one letter he wrote in August 1960, the mobster calls his then girlfriend a 'spiteful little tormentor' - after she had told him she had been out dancing - and how she was 'humiliating' him in front of other inmates.
There are also numerous black and white photos of the couple, some of them previously unseen, that are being auctioned off.
The overall pre-sale estimate for the items is £4,000.
Jane Anderson, of auctioneers Gorringes of Lewes, East Sussex, said: "This archive is coming from the estate of Frances Kray.
Her five page diary and over 60 letters Reggie wrote from prison are going up for sale [BNPS]
"Reggie met Frances when she was 16. At first they were pen pals while he was in Wandsworth Prison and the letters were very chatty and friendly.
"The second batch is from after they were engaged in the tone is completely different, often berating her for not writing enough letters.
"They had an unhappy marriage and it seems someone told Frances to write down incidents while she was trying to divorce Reggie.
"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.
"Considering what happened to Frances, it is a very poignant archive.
"When she died she was buried in the Kray family plot.
"She had tried to change her name back to her maiden name of Shea and her family tried to get her grave moved from the plot but they didn't succeed."
The auction takes place tomorrow.
Tragic Frances Kray's miserable marriage to Reggie
In her diary, Frances, who was aged 25, described her lonely life at their flat in London's Marble Arch.
She wrote: "[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.
"By the side of the bed gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife. He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow.
"I phoned my brother up to get me out of this place and said something about guns. His brother swore at me and started collecting all the guns in a laundry bag."
She goes on to say how the Krays called a friend at a nearby pub who came and took the weapons away in fear the police had been called.
She added: "I said something about me looking for a new flat. He said 'shut your mouth'."
Frances was then admitted to hospital 'for some rest'.
She wrote: "Him and his friend took me to the hospital, he was swearing and shouting at me in the car."
She went on: "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 me."
Summing up his behaviour, she adds: "Always drunk - slurring and falling all over the place."
Diary frances kray
June 7th saw the 49th anniversary of Frances Shea s death and it was a day for remembrance and love on the Frances Shea group.
An outpouring of beautiful tributes , memories and fan art by members led by a touching heartfelt poem written by Frances niece – Frances Shea .
FRANIE Gone 49 years today
I love you deeply and always will
I understand your leaving
I remember all the good with us
yet doubt I will stop grieving
You’re a part of my heart and
always have been
People can judge but they’ve never seen
The love we had and the times we spent
Your visit was brief but you were heaven sent
I’m here for you to get you seen
to represent you well
I’ll make them listen gorgeous
My darling, complex girl
God bless my beautiful fran. Hope you and mum are having a drink having a lovely time xxxxx J C
Hayley Hamils beautiful collage of Frances
She understood her worth, which made her powerful, The world needed a Beautiful woman who was strong and brave, so she became one. No super powers needed, Even as she sleep’s today she is remembered in the heart’s of many.I would like pay my respects on this day to the Shea Fam on the day of their Aunties anniversary.MK
Darling Frances left us 49 years ago today under such tragic circumstances. My thoughts are with the Shea family. Rest in peace, Frances. Gone but never forgotten. We love you. HH
Tribute from Gemma Brocks
“To live in hearts we leave behind. Is not to die.” #ThomasCampbell
Sending the very best of wishes to Frances Shea and her loved ones… TBH
✝ R.I.P Frances Elsie Shea ✝
1943 – 1967
Gone be never forgotten
Rest in peace Frances ❤️ I never got to meet her but her story has really touched my heart. Such a terrible loss of a beautiful young woman. My thoughts are with Frances and her family on this difficult day xxxxxx SW
Beautiful tribute by Gemma Brocks
So many beautiful tributes and pictures , I was unable to fit them all in.
But even after all those years , Frances still shines , in the heart’s and memories of all those who loved her and she always will.
Reggie Kray’s wife Frances Shea’s diaries: Drunken abuse, weapons and constant isolation
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.”
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."
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'He kept a gun, sword and knife by the bed. I phoned my brother to get me out of this place:' Harrowing diary entries of Reggie Kray's tragic wife reveal just how terrifying it was to be married to the mob
'He kept a gun, sword and knife by the bed. I phoned my brother to get me out of this place': Harrowing diary entries of Reggie Kray's tragic wife reveal just how terrifying it was to be married to the mob
- Diary of Frances Kray, wife of gangster Reggie, recently come to light
- 60 letters along with diary up for auction at estimated £4,000
- Entries describe an abusive drunk who neglected his wife
- Gangster kept stash of weapons by his bed and knife under his pillow
- Frances claimed Reggie was 'always drunk and slurring'
By Naomi Greenaway
Published: | Updated:
The notorious Kray brothers terrorised the East End of London during the 1950s and 60s. The Firm, as their brutal gang was known, was responsible for countless violent assaults, armed robberies, running protection rackets and for the murders of Jack 'the hat' McVitie and George Cornell.
And now intimate diary entries penned by the the tragic wife of Reggie Kray reveal that his reign of terror knew no bounds, and was just as fierce in his home life as he was within his underground world of crime.
Ronnie Kray (left), who died in 1995, toasting the future happiness of his brother Reggie (right) and Frances Shae (middle) after their marriage, which lasted only eight weeks before Frances left him
In her private scribblings Frances Kray, who first met Reggie when she was just 16, describes her hellish life with the gangster and having to share a bed with a gun and a flick-knife.
Her marriage to Reggie lasted only eight weeks but she wrote of the abuse and drunken temper bouts she endured at the hands of the East End villain.
Describing how Reggie kept a cache of deadly weapons in their bedroom, she said, 'He came back night time. By the side of bed gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife.'
'He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow,' she added.
He later took to keeping a loaded rifle by his bed after making sure every door and window of their home was locked, the journal reveals.
The diary records how Reggie, who died in 2000, often told Frances to ‘shut your mouth’ and that he would warn her he'd ‘make her suffer’ and torment her suggesting he was having affairs with club hostesses.
Happier times: A letter from Reggie to Frances when he was in Wandsworth prison in 1960, which begins 'My Dearest Darling Frankie...'
Reggie's letter to Frances from Wandsworth prison, which ends, 'Well my darling that's all for now...' along with romantic words of a song, 'I love you more than ever, And yearn for the time we are together'
Frances also wrote of how much time the notorious gangster spent at his mother’s house, where his hardman twin brother Ronnie walked around in his underwear.
Desperate Frances kept the log while she sought a way out of her unhappy marriage with Reggie.
Tragically, she eventually committed suicide by taking a fatal drug overdose in 1967.
Her five page diary along with over 60 letters that Reggie wrote to her while he was in prison before they were married are now being sold in auction by a direct descendant of her family.
Reggie and Frances Kray on holiday in Jersey
Frances (far left) and Reggie (far right) on holiday in Jersey with friends
Frances with Reggie (far right) and friends in Jersey -- the smile masks a terrifying marriage. according to diary entries that have recently come to light
The letters show a Jeckyll and Hyde side to Reggie’s personality, as he comes across as loving and affectionate in some and bitter and spiteful in others.
In one letter he wrote in August 1960, the mobster calls his then girlfriend a ‘spiteful little tormentor’ and says she was ‘humiliating’ him in front of other inmates after she told him she had been out dancing.
There are also numerous black and white photos of the couple, some of them previously unseen, that are being sold by auctioneers Gorringes of Lewes, East Sussex.
The overall pre-sale estimate for the items, which are going up for auction tomorrow, is £4,000.
Left: Reggie Kray (left) once described as 'the most dangerous men in Britain' with an associate (right) and wife Frances, whose private diary and letters are up for auction; Right: A portrait of the gangster
Frances and Reggie Kray (third and fourth from left) with friends at a London Club
Jane Anderson, a spokesperson from the auction house, said, 'This archive is coming from the estate of Frances Kray.
'Reggie met Frances when she was 16. At first they were pen pals while he was in Wandsworth Prison and the letters were very chatty and friendly.
'The second batch is from after they were engaged and the tone is completely different, often berating her for not writing enough letters.
'They had an unhappy marriage and it appears that someone told Frances to write down incidents while she was trying to divorce Reggie.
A diary written by Frances Kray about her life with Reggie (pictured above on their wedding day) has recently comes to light and tells an unhappy tale of their relationship
'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.
'Considering what happened to Frances, it is a very poignant archive.
A diary kept by the tragic wife of Reggie Kray describing her hellish life with the gangster has emerged
The heart-wrenching diary of Frances Kray describes a terrifying life with gangster Reggie here
'When she died she was buried in the Kray family plot. She had tried to change her name back to her maiden name of Shea and her family tried to get her grave moved from the plot but they didn’t succeed.
In her diary, Frances described her lonely life at their flat in London’s Marble Arch where she lived when she was 25.
'Always drunk and slurring and falling all over the place', reads one of Frances's extracts
Her entries are written in abbreviated form, but tell a harrowing story.
She wrote: '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.
'By the side of the bed -- gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife. He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow.
'I phoned my brother up to get me out of this place and said something about guns. His brother swore at me and started collecting all the guns in a laundry bag.'
She goes on to say how the Krays called a friend at a nearby pub who came and took the weapons away in fear the police had been called.
She went on to write, 'I said something about me looking for a new flat. He said "shut your mouth".'
Frances was then admitted to hospital ‘for some rest’. She wrote, 'Him and his friend took me to the hospital, he was swearing and shouting at me in the car.'
She went on: '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 me.'
Summing up his behaviour, she adds: 'Always drunk - slurring and falling all over the place.'
EXTRACTS FROM FRANCES'S DIARY TELL A HARROWING TALE
- '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.'
- 'By the side of the bed -- gun, sword, knife, chopper, flick-knife. He used to sleep with flick-knife under his pillow.'
- 'I phoned my brother up to get me out of this place and said something about guns. His brother swore at me and started collecting all the guns in a laundry bag.'
- 'I said something about me looking for a new flat. He said "shut your mouth".'
- '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 me.'
- 'Always drunk - slurring and falling all over the place.'
Reggie Kray (fourth from right) with friends at a Lido in London
Mob member 'Chunky Morgan' lifting up two fellow Kray associates in Bethnal Green, London
Reggie and Ronnie Kray in 1965 after 36 hours 'helping' the police inquiry into the murder of George Cornell
Ronnie and Reggie Kray drink tea at home in London after spending 36 hours being questioned by police over the murder of George Cornell
The twins (Ronnie, second from left; Reggie, centre with arm on friend) with friends and Ronnie's pet dog Freda when they were evacuated to Suffolk, England, during the Second World War
Ronnie (left) and Reggie with their nephew Gary Kray, son of their brother Charles, taken in Bethnal Green, London
Ron Kray (far left), associate Pat Connolly (third from left) and Reggie (far right) with friends
The brothers: Ronnie (left), who dies in 1995 and Reggie (right), who died in 2000
Left: Reggie Kray's mugshot after being accused of the murder of 'Axeman' Frank Mitchelll, in 1968. The Kray were already facing two charges of conspiracy to murder; Left: Jack McVitie, another of their murder victims
Ronnie Kray poses with singer Winifred Attwell and some local children in London
EXTRACTS FROM LOVE LETTER SENT FROM REGGIE TO FRANCES FROM WANDSWORTH PRISON ON AUGUST 11TH 1960 WHEN HAPPILY COURTING
'My Dearest Darling Frankie, Thanks very much for the biro pen and your last letter, I received both on Wednesday. Sorry I haven’t written sooner than now although I have already answered your other two letters. Well, Frankie I have got the blues tonight, so I shall enjoy writing this letter, after all we did start courting through the post, didn’t we. I’m really looking forward to those photos. I feel the same way about the last three weeks, it seems ages since I last saw you, you know I keep looking at your photos and try to bring them to life. I have another one of you and my pals say you look very nice...
...Well my darling that’s all for now. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon and it won’t be long before seeing you again. Good night Frankie. All my love, Fondest wishes, Reg
P.S. Do you know the song: ‘Time seems so distant and far way; I hope my love for you doesn’t drift away; I love you more than ever, And yearn for the time we were together...'
A HISTORY OF THE KRAY'S REIGN OF TERROR
- Ronnie and Reggie Kray were born on 25 October 1933 in Hoxton, East London
- On 5th November 1956 Ronnie was jailed for three years
- In February 1960 Reggie was imprisoned for 18 months for protection-related threats
- In 1960 Ronnie Kray killed fellow gangster George Cornell in The Blind Beggar pub, Whitechapel Road but intimidation prevented any witnesses from co-operating with police
- Reggie murdered Jack "The Hat" McVitie but his body was never recovered either
- On 12 December 1966 the Krays helped Frank Mitchell, 'The Mad Axeman', to escape from Dartmoor Prison. He later disappeared, but the Krays were acquitted of his murder.
- The twins were arrested on 9th May 1968 and once they were detained in police custody, witnesses slowly started to come forward
- Their trial lasted 39 days at the Old Bailey and they twins were sentenced to life imprisonment
- Ronnie remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on 17 March 1995
- Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight weeks before his death from cancer
- Ronnie was openly bisexual. He planned to marry a lady named Monica in the 1960s whom he had dated for nearly three years, but was arrested before he had the chance
- Reggie allegedly once had a one night stand with Barbara Windsor whose EastEnders' character Peggy Mitchell was reputedly based on Violet Kray, the twins mother
- He also a brief romance between with cabaret dancer Greta Harper in 1958, with whom he had a daughter, Sandra Ireson, whom he only met shortly before his death
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