Vandal who targeted grave of Ian Fleming 'could be 007 superfan'
Vandal who targeted grave of James Bond author Ian Fleming and stole plaque bearing his name could be 007 superfan, locals fear
- Ian Fleming’s is in the grounds of St James’ Church in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire
- In September last year, an inscribed slate plaque was stolen from the grave
- Fears it could have been taken by a Bond super-fan and may never be recovered
A plaque taken from the grave of James Bond author Ian Fleming last year has still not been found – as locals fear it was stolen by a crazed 007 super-fan.
The iconic author’s grave has been marked with an obelisk in the grounds of St James’ Church in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire, for more than 50 years.
But in September last year, an inscribed slate plaque which featured the author’s name and the Latin phrase ‘omnia perfunctus vitae praemia marces’ – meaning ‘having enjoyed life’s prizes, you now decay’ – was removed without permission.
There are fears it could have been taken by a James Bond super-fan and may never be recovered.
A plaque (left) taken from the grave of James Bond author Ian Fleming (right) last year has still not been found – as locals fear it was stolen by a crazed super-fan
The iconic author’s grave has been marked with an obelisk in the grounds of St James’ Church in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire, (pictured) for more than 50 years
Who was James Bond author Ian Fleming?
Ian Lancaster Fleming was born into a well-off family with connections to the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co.
His father, an MP for Henley, died in 1917 during World War One.
Fleming’s work with Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during World War Two – combined with his career as a journalist – formed the basis for his Bond novels.
He wrote Casino Royale, the first book in the series, in 1952. Its huge success sent demand skyrocketing and three print runs had to be commissioned.
Between 1953 and 1966, he wrote 11 novels and two short story collections.
In total, 100 million copies of the Bond novels were sold worldwide and they remain hugely popular today.
Fleming was married to Ann Charteris – who he met while she was still married to the second Viscount Rothermere – and the pair had a son called Casper.
Fleming had a heart attack on August 11, 1964 and died the following day – Caspar’s 12th birthday – aged just 56.
Casper killed himself at the age of just 23 on October 2, 1975.
Ann died on July 12, 1981 and all three are buried together in St James’ Church in Sevenhampton.
Others have suggested that the attack was perpetrated by someone gripped by the false belief that the Flemings owed their fortune to slavery.
Fleming was buried at the St James’ Church site in 1964.
The graveyard is next to the Warneford Place estate which Mr Fleming moved to after completing the Bond novels – and where he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Sally Hawson of Save Swindon’s Heritage said: ‘Desecrating a grave is an awful thing to do.
‘This is one of those places where fans from all over the world make a pilgrimage to visit a world-famous author, it is special and important.
‘Heritage crime is unfortunately massive in this country.
‘There’s a network of people who steal things to order and are quite adept at what they do, but who knows if that’s the reason behind this vandalism.
‘We may never find out who did it and that’s sad, his family must be so upset.’
Matt Holland, who runs the literature and arts-focused Swindon Spring Festival, said he fears a fan was behind it.
He said: ‘To vandalise any grave is disrespectful.
‘But, of course and inevitably, graves of the famous are more at risk of getting both good and bad attention.
‘It occurs to me that this could be the work either of a fan, wanting an Ian Fleming plaque for their collection, or an enemy of Bond – someone who sees this desecration as a way of finally beating Bond and getting one step closer to world domination.
‘But either way, it’s a shame this has happened and, rather than lovers of literature, the people it will matter most to are Ian Fleming’s family and friends, for whom it must be upsetting.’
At the time of the grave’s disappearance, Fleming’s step-daughter Fionn Morgan said she feared the attack was perpetrated by people who believed the family had links to slavery.
She said: ‘It could be the work of an extreme Bond fan who wants to keep it.
In September last year, an inscribed slate plaque which featured the author’s name and the Latin phrase ‘omnia perfunctus vitae praemia marces’ – meaning ‘having enjoyed life’s prizes, you now decay’ – was removed without permission (left). Right: Fleming at his desk in 1958
‘Or, less likely, it could have been stolen by someone thinking it would sell for a large sum.’
But she said it was ‘very likely’ that the grave was desecrated by someone who concluded that Fleming and his family were beneficiaries of the slave trade, simply ‘because of Ian’s home in Jamaica, Goldeneye’.
Fleming’s grandfather, Robert Fleming, left school aged 13 but founded the bank which bore his name, making an immense fortune, much of which he bequeathed to his native Dundee.
Fleming was revered in Jamaica, particularly at Goldeneye, where staff referred to him as ‘the Commander’.
Fleming had a heart attack on August 11, 1964 and died the following day – on his son Caspar’s 12th birthday – aged just 56.
Casper killed himself at the age of 23 on October 2, 1975.
Ann died on July 12, 1981 and all three are buried together in St James’ Church in Sevenhampton. Casper and Ann’s plaques have been left intact.
Highworth pub The Goldfinger is named after one of his books which later became an iconic and hugely-successful Bond film starring Sean Connery.
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