ID: WW01_071 / Winifred Hone

TitleVictory Days. D.O.R.A. - Winifred Hone memoirs
AbstractThe first winter we were at the Victory we got into trouble under D.O.R.A. [ Defence of the Realm Act ]. The war had been over 4 months, my husband and his friends had been out shooting partridges, I got all carried away by the bag and suggested that I should cook them and they could have a late dinner. The meal was rather late, just after 10 o'clock, it hadn't been necessary to say 'Time Gentlemen Please', actually we had nothing to open for on that wet and stormy night. I had cleared the table and a game of cards was suggested, when the door opened and the local policeman accused us of having people on our premises after time. We couldn't deny the statement as we had a huge notice on the wall, pointing out the disadvantages of doing so under D.O.R.A., a war time restriction act. He noticed a half glass of wine on the window ledge that I had put there when clearing the table. He pointed and said in a horrified voice 'you have got intoxicating liquor in that glass'. Mr Few, a guest, said 'damn it, so I have', drinking it up with relish.

We were duly prosecuted and when the case came up before a very pious and bigoted bench at Colchester we were accused of running a pub disgracefully (actually at that time there was nothing to run, only bills that looked like being unpaid if trade didn't improve). We were subject to a lecture on running licenced premises, all this fuss and expence over a meal to break the monotony of life in general, a game of cards which never took place. We were duly fined £5 for our part in the proceeding, Mr Few £5 for emptying his glass of wine, which by this time was flat.

In 1920 we had only one policeman whose wage was very small, was naturally on the lookout for offenders, he was on his beat down Coast Road, his curiosity must have been aroused by a lighted window with the curtains undrawn at the late hour of 10.30, as most of the inhabitants were in the habit of retiring early because of their way of life. Crime was almost unknown, just a little poaching, but the poachers were too artful to be caught, so he could not rely on that for promotion which was the only way of getting a higher wage. Indeed, a policeman's lot was not a happy one, as expressed in Gilbert and Sullivan's Opera Pirates of Penzance.

A year or two after we had suffered the indignity of this prosecution, the chairman of the bench who lived in Layer Marney Towers came in one hot summer morning before opening time, and asked me to serve him with a drink as he was very thirsty. I reminded him that we had already been fined five pounds for allowing people to drink after licensing hours. He cheerily said 'don't break the law much, please let me have a shandy'. Thinking that discretion was the better part of valour, I supplied him with his drink, but on the house, although actually speaking that was not lawful under D.O.R.A.

[ D.O.R.A. is the Defence of the Realm Act. Amongst many other measures, it restricted the opening hours of pubs and made it illegal for customers to buy a round of drinks. ]

AuthorWinifred Hone
SourceMersea Museum / Wendy Brady