Cider House Rules

Dr Larch and Homer Wells

Dr Larch and Homer Wells

Filling in a couple of hours on a cold, spring day, I turned the television on and watched Cider House Rules.  This was shown on a channel that regularly screens older movies.

It’s a 1999 movie starring (Sir) Michael Caine and  Tobey Maguire.  Maguire plays Homer Wells an orphan who was adopted and returned twice to the orphanage that is directed by Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine).

Dr Larch is a secret abortionist and is also addicted to ether which he applies to himself on a regular nightly basis. Homer Wells has no formal education but Dr Larch trains him in obstetrics and abortions and he becomes Larch’s assistant.

The story follows Homer Wells growing up in the orphanage and becoming unsettled, wanting to see the world.  The opportunity arises when an airman arrives with his lady friend who will have an abortion.  The airman agrees to take Homer with him and arranges a job on his family’s apple orchard.  The apples are picked by a team of itinerant pickers and then they are turned into cider.  Homer bunks with these pickers and as they can’t read, reads them the Cider House Rules.

I don’t want to give away any more of this movie.  But would say that if you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a trip to the movies or to get on video.

Having seen this movie I remembered seeing photos of a Cider House in a book that my father gave me years ago.

Book cover

The book is entitled Rural London and was published way back in 1951.  It contains fantastic photos of parts of London way back then.  There is a chapter on East and South-east London and I remember some of scenes as they were when I was growing up in the east end of London.

But the cider house.

At the time the book was published there were three “hostelries” in London that differed from all other pubs in that they sold only cider.

Cider house

The Goat Tavern in Stafford Street

The Goat Tavern still stands in Stafford Street, off Old Bond Street.  The building probably dates back to the end of the seventeenth century.

goat tavern

The Goat Tavern today

We are told that the Goat Tavern is ‘female friendly’ and ‘gay friendly’.  Well, that’s a relief!

Men in cider house

Men drinking in cider house

The “hostelry” pictured above was in the Harrow Road and was formerly a carpenter’s shop that held a  licence that allowed only the workmen to drink on the premises.

This book is one of three that I am delving into at present.  Reading is not the correct word because I read something in one and then remember seeing something of a similar nature in one of the others.

3 books

And I am grateful that I have these books only one of which is relatively new. The other two Rural London and Mayhew’s London are both now tattered and well worn but are great to reread and learn about my home town in years gone by.

“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink.  When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
Frank Sinatra


18 responses to “Cider House Rules

  1. Love the Frank Sinatra quote Judith.


  2. Whoa, that’s a very young Toby Maguire.
    I always confuse him with Jake Gyllenhall. 🙂


  3. That Sinatra quote is a riot… The Cider House on old Bond Street is quite popular… Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  4. I remember seeing Cider House Rules, but am not familiar with the books.


    • Mayhew’s London was first published i1851 exactly 100 years beforeRural London. I am sure there must be many, many copies of each in circulation but I have never met (or heard of ) anybody who has one.

      I am lucky that I have these treasures in my bookcase. 🙂


  5. Loved the movie . . . and loved the quote. Thanks, Judith. 😀


  6. I loved Cider House Rules–the book and the movie. Thanks for the reminder. I might watch it again soon.

    You appear to be as much of a book lover as I am.


  7. I a most certainly a book lover. I had to get rid of many of my books when I downsized into my present house but I kept a few treasures. Rural London and Mayhew’s London certainly are treasures.


  8. Have read bits here and there Roman Britain-Londonium. Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles novels.


  9. You do have some special books to treasure. I’ve heard of the movie, but haven’t seen it. It’s aired on tv sometimes, but I prefer a movie without commercials and not cut to fit the allotted time.


  10. I like that movie very much. Check out my photo’s from a recent trip to the oldest running Cider Mill in the US if you would like.


    • Great photos, thanks. I have never visited a Cider Mill and wonder if there are any currently operating in New Zealand. Just off to check that out,
      Thanks for the comment, 🙂


Let's talk

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.