‘A Parson Running a Pub’ (Part II)

‘A Pulpit in a Sense Novel’

Father Basil Lee Jellicoe, who died at only 36 in 1935, promoted a reformed, Christian-aligned pub, see our Part I, here. It may seem unlikely he can speak to us in person of his plans – from behind the bar – but he can.

From the Digital Video Repository of the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections, you may watch the well-spoken “padre-publican” articulate his goals in 1930 from the Anchor Inn in Somers Town, London. He acknowledges he advocates a “pulpit in a sense novel” but builds his case well.

The film, from Fox Movietone, runs for over five minutes, and is in three parts.* First, the Father’s sermon (in effect). Second, a group of customers is shown, mostly women, all in happy mood, drinking a dark beer which perhaps was porter. They exchange witticisms in strong voice, some of which I can make out.

Those attuned to British speech patterns can probably figure out the whole thing – it would be interesting to read a transcription. Jellicoe does not appear in this part.

The third section is another group of customers, male or mostly, with Jellicoe now present, leading them all in song. He plays a small accordion and smiles broadly as he leads his pub-church choir. One of the men is dressed in “pearly king” fashion.

Pints and halves of beer are drawn continually, and hoisted. I cannot recall seeing before beer drawn and people actually speaking in the pub this early before before WW II.

Here you see the reality of what Basil Jellicoe tried to achieve, and something of the prewar pub in action. Extraordinary.

For the final part of our series on Basil Jellicoe, see Part III.

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*The film is actually a compilation of “outtakes”. This Movietone clip appears to be the official release, and is available on YouTube among its British Movietones selections, but is much shorter than the MIRC outtake version and does not add significantly to it. The main difference we note is the Father’s matinée smile is highlighted better in the official release. Also, note how fast – expertly – the pints were pulled in those days. There were no two ways about it.

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