Innkeeper John Fothergill lampooned

Found - in A Bunch of Blue Ribbons.A Volume of Cambridge Essays [Collected by I. Rose. London: Chapman & Hall, 1933] a satirical poem lampooning the celebrated innkeeper John Fothergill. Fothergill wrote a best-seller Diary of an Innkeeper and was known to Oxford students for his inn at Thame, frequented by, among others, most of the prominent members of  the Brideshead set. Oddly, he is unknown to Wikipedia but has a good entry in the DNB. His Diary was republished fairly recently by the Folio Society. A Bunch of Blue Ribbons was a sort of counter blast to a recent work Red Rags -a record of pet hatreds and aversions by bright young students at Oxford and Cambridge. This poem is in a chapter called A Sob Sister defends Oxford by Christopher Saltmarshe (a Cambridge poet also unknown to the all-knowing Wikipedia):

I am giving below a disgraceful and insulting lampoon which fell into my hands. The subject is an inn-keeper, whose name is dear to the immediate generation of Oxonians, which learnt to appreciate him as a host, an epicure and a gentleman. As an example of the depths of scurrility to which the enemies of Oxford can stoop I, as an old Cantab., believe these verses to be unparalleled.


Buying a box of matches once by stealth,
I saw an inn-kepper who fame pursued,
Welcoming those who boasted height and wealth,
To the short and shabby he was merely rude.
And while obscure and costly dishes stewed,
He snubbed an Oriental from Shoreditch,
And cracked a jest with Lady May Fitzprude -
He kept a pub entirely for the rich.

And yet in every fairness let us state
He had created something very new,
A pseudo-Soho restaurant for the great,
A hot-house for the fashionable few. 
The thought of beer or other vulgar brew
Would anger him to so intense a pitch
That very soon the local farmers knew
He kept a pub entirely for the rich.

The lavatory was most strictly guarded
From sudden travellers in their distress
(Though free to aesthetes prettily pomaded
Who wishes to rouge or to adjust their dress)
Ladies were often turned away for less,
Except, of course, they claimed some social niche,
Or knew the gossip man on the Express -
He kept a pub entirely fro the rich.


Prince, let it be remembered for all time,
When Blathergall lies rotting in death's ditch,
His was the one unpardonable crime -
He kept a pub entirely for the rich.

One thought on “Innkeeper John Fothergill lampooned

  1. R.M.Healey

    Kit Saltmarshe may be unknown to Wikipedia, but anyone who knows about the WW2 Listening Station at Wood Norton, near Evesham and its staff of eminent polyglots and journalists, which included Sir Ernst Gombrich, Gilbert Harding and Geoffrey Grigson, will have come across Saltmarshe. He and Grigson were the resident caricaturists. See Renier and Rubinstein, Assigned to Listen (1987).


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