Ernest Maurice Tassart (1869–1930) was a French competitor in fencing competitions at the 1900 Summer Olympics. He owned Tassart's Salle D'Armes at Margaret Street, Oxford Circus, London during the 1910s and regularly held the annual Varsity (Oxford vs. Cambridge university) Fencing matches.
Alfred Parkins (1906–1985) was born in London but lost both parents before the age of 14 years. He was taken on by Ernest Tassart as an apprentice at his salle d'armes in Margaret Street (the venue for the annual Varsity fencing matches between Oxford and Cambridge Universities). Alfred was sent to international competitions in Europe, e.g. Ostend championships in Belgium but also fenced at Salles Bertrand and Paul in London. In 1928, Alfred visited Maestro Giuseppe Mangiarotti in Milan and obtained the Diploma Academia D'armi Cremonese. Around this time, Alfred was also awarded the Diplome de l'Academie d'Armes de Paris and the Diplome de l'Academie D'Épée de Paris. In 1930, Alfred married Catherine (Margaret Kohn) and sons John and Jeremy were born in 1931 and 1934, respectively. Both went on to be Maitre d'Armes and accomplished fencers in their time.
In 1930, Tassart died but Alfred continued under the business name of Tassart-Parkins fencing school, initially assisted by Prof. M. Wells at 11 George Street, Portman Square, London. Two videos of this period are available from the British Pathé news website. For Tassart see under the film name of 'David and Goliath' for Alfred Parkins see under 'Fencers and Foils' where Alfred is recorded teaching a girls school in Crouch End, N. London. The commentary records that Professor Tassart-Parkins was talking in French.
In 1934, Alfred became British profesional champion for all three weapons and also the best style award at the first competition of the newly formed Federation of British Fencing Masters, a forerunner of the British Academy of Fencing of which he wa a founder member.
Alfred commenced teaching fencing at Roedean and Harrow schools and also at the Lansdowne Club in London where he was Maitre from circa. 1946 until his retirement in 1981. An excerpt from his obituary indicates 'although proficient at all three weapons, his real talent lay at épée where he attracted many top fencers to the Landsdowne including Mary Glen-Haig, Allan Jay and Bill Hoskyns, the latter winning the World Épée title in 1958'. Alfred received a diploma from Amateur Fencing Association in recognition for the achievement of his pupil. In 1947, Alfred and his team from the Lansdowne were successful at the Savage Shield competition. Indeed the Lansdowne won that competition no less than 10 times out of 14 between 1947 and 1961.
Alfred was coach to the British Fencing épée team in the 1948 Olympics in London. In 1958, a letter from C-L de Beaumont, President of the AFA invites Alfred to fence an exhibition match with his son John at the Empire Games event in London. That letter indicates that Maestro's Mangiarotti and Pavesi attended.
Upon his retirement, Alfred has the pleasure of seeing both of his sons continue as joint fencing masters at the Lansdowne.
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