Tag Archives: Harrow Road

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