‘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 that he can speak to us in person of his plans – from behind the bar, moreover – but he can.

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

The film is from Fox Movietone and lasts over five minutes. It is three parts.* First, there is the Father’s sermon (in effect). Second, a group of customers is shown, mostly women, all in happy mood who drink a dark beer that perhaps was porter. They exchange witticisms in strong voice, some of which I can make out. Those attuned to British speech patterns can probably understand the whole thing. It would be interesting to read a transcription! Jellicoe does not appear in this part.

The last part shows another group of customers, male or mostly, with Jellicoe now present who leads them all in song. He plays a small accordion and smiles broadly as he leads this pub-church choir. One of the patrons is dressed in “pearly king” fashion.

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

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