HISTORY ~ Where it all began…
Many think of The Jubilee Inn with its pale green roof, bay fronted walls and its textured rough-rendered yellowing façade with a smile, a sense of nostalgia…and then regret. Tucked away on the B3227 between the borders of East and West Anstey, The Jubilee sat for many years, a silent observer of rural life, enjoying stunning south facing views over the valleys towards Exmoor National Park, offering a warm fire, a cold pint and home cooked food to passing travellers.
The Jubilee tended to its regulars, who sat on rickety wooden benches on the circular fronted lawn pondering life after a hard day’s farming…and of course, enjoying a slow pint or few with trusted family and friends in this small local community.
Built to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935, at a time when the B3227 was one of the busiest transport routes down to Cornwall, the Inn started life as ‘The Royal Jubilee Inn’ before ‘Royal’ was dropped in favour of the simplicity by which it’s known today, “The Jubilee Inn” aka our home!
By the early 1940s as the great English spirit of unity in the face of World War II was prevalent, The Jubilee was used as a meeting point for the Home Guard. A rare picture below shows many of the brave men, rifles in hand, who patrolled the locality to protect their way of life, smiling into the south facing sun, no doubt waiting for the picture to immortalise them so they might pop into the pub for a swift half before duty resumed. Do you recognise anyone squinting into the sun? If so, please pop in and let us know. We are keen to fill in the gaps in the history of our home and welcome all stories, pictures or memorabilia from times gone by!
In the 1960s the Inn was frequented by gap-toothed comedy legend Terry Thomas when his sister-in-law, with her second husband Frank Tuck following the death of Terry’s brother, became licensee of The Jubilee. Mrs Tuck had two daughters and a son. Cheeky character that he was, Terry was known to have spent many a day at The Jubilee, visiting his nieces and nephew, playing the part of the naughty but lovable uncle, attending family celebrations and taking every opportunity to nip behind the bar and help himself to the fare on offer as shown in the picture to the right, with Mr Frank Tuck standing behind him. We believe Frank is the resident ghost who was caught on camera two years ago, seen by the family and friends near the area that was once the site of the original staircase, and the entity responsible for clinking glasses around midnight and of the occasional plate or pan zooming across the kitchen!
Stories of Terry crashing out tunes on the bar piano and rallying the locals in a song or two are still remembered by those old enough to have met him. Perhaps this was Terry reliving his youth when he fronted a jazz band, before making his name in the film industry? He certainly is remembered for putting on a good show! Having said that, we are reliably informed that there are also many locals who also remember the lovable rogue and of the good times had by all when he visited!
In the 1970s, The Jubilee was taken on by the Garners, who ran it through one of the worst winters recorded…just after they purchased it! On a summer day in 2013, while Claire was recovering from a liver transplant (courtesy of her donor brother Barrie who was married here at the Jubilee Inn in 2017). Staring out the window of The Jubilee across to the Wild Boar Farm and generally feeling quite frustrated at being sofa bound, a tidy looking mobile home pulled into the drive. Out came a sprightly elderly couple who introduced themselves as the Garners, having taken over the license from Mrs Tuck some 40 years ago.
They told Claire with a few fond stories of their time here, how they had replaced the original bar and the “knees up” that was had by all! Claire recalls “I was told that on one very hard winter they were snowed in with two coachloads of children who had been passing and had to stop for shelter as the coaches could no longer navigate the road. They told of bodies sleeping on sofas, chairs, floors and how for two weeks no one could leave the Inn. The children were not even able to go outside because the snow drifts were so high they couldn’t be seen! With food at a shortage, helicopters flew over and dropped food parcels to feed all the children, only being able to identify The Jubilee because of the famous green roof tiles that make the property so unique in the area. I have four children of my own and I can only imagine how being snowed in with 30 plus children for two weeks might have made you feel!”. The Inn has certainly been a family favourite for many years.
When the Garners left the Jubilee in the late 1970s, it continued to run successfully until 1988 when the new North Devon link road (A361) was opened. It was in the late 1980s that Claire first visited The Jubilee as a horse-mad London kid, travelling down to ride on Exmoor, staying at the West Anstey Farm with the lovely Bassett family, hacking out in all weathers and living the dream of escaping from the city…even at that age!
Claire said: “At that time, it was customary for my school friends and I to ride out from West Anstey Farm for the whole day stopping at various pubs on Exmoor for lunch, tethering up the horses and ponies outside while we ate scampi and chips from baskets lined with greaseproof paper! The Jubilee was one of those pubs.
“In October 2012, in the midst of cancer treatments and following a traumatic divorce, I left London and found myself at the Jubilee Inn, without an income of any substance and feeling rather lost…and I promptly got even more ill, facing a terminal diagnosis, trying to appear both brave and in control of the disease for the sake of my children and family. Cancer is scary and HCC (Hepatocellular Carcinoma) is not a great one to get, particularly in your liver. But I found that if I educated myself on how to improve my chances of survival, then the fear left and it was easier to see what needed to be changed in my life to give me that fighting chance, for the sake of my life and those of the children who were also finding the uncertainty of cancer difficult.”
“I read a book called ‘The Anti-Cancer Diet’ A New Way of Life by Dr David Servan Schreiber which was given to my by friend and investigative journalist Giovanni Ulleri – it changed my life. It addressed the issues of how lifestyle, stress and trauma can negatively affect your immune system preventing it battling those mutant cancer cells. It claimed two out of three of cancers were avoidable. It recommended eight hours sleep and not being a ‘Stressie Bessie’ (as my kids would say) to contribute to improving your longevity despite the cancer.
It all seemed to come down to chemicals and chemical reactions. Unnecessary chemicals in our food and chemical reactions our body caused by food choices and outside influences of lifestyle such as sleep deprivation, and in my case, persistent intimate trauma. What was there to loose in following the basic principles of eating healthy, fresh foods full of goodness instead of high sugar processed foods, or getting proper sleep, of trying to avoid stressful encounters? Absolutely nothing. So, I changed my diet and tried to change my approach to life. It has not been easy and every day is a challenge, particularly when events outside my control continued causing havoc….but it did give me the tools to have confidence that I could make a difference. I took responsibility for my choices and took back control as far as I could with having cancer and it has worked for me in my cancer journey.
On my 11th cycle of 12 chemotherapy treatments Claire wanted to share a bit of her new found inspiration so when saved from certain death by her brother, a thought developed.
“I needed a focus to move on from the fears of the preceding years (as did all the family – cancer affects everyone). Somehow, I also had to make a living as I could no longer practiced law in London and my mobility was an inhibitor to most travel. I had also lost much faith in the system after I saw first hand the ways in which it could be abused. My family suggested the idea of revamping the Jubilee Inn and creating a unique venue for the local community to return to, while offering not only superb locally sourced food, but stepping up the standard and exploring cooking techniques which help retain the nutrients in the food and therefore, benefit your body more than other types of cooking may”.
“I visited the Penny Brohn Cancer Care centre in Pill, Bristol, which is a wellness centre for cancer patients and their supporting friends and families. Their approach was life-changing for me and reinforced my resolve to survive. I would recommend any of their courses if anyone has a cancer diagnosis or is caring for someone with cancer”.
“I also became involved in a film called The C Word Movie by Megan O’Hara (Morgan Freeman being the Executive producer). It focuses on the cancer journeys individuals and I faced and how we approached a change to our lives for the better since diagnosis. It also touches on some of the wider issues with why there is so little education about prevention of cancers when prevention is always going to be better than having to cure. I met people who inspired me to do better and aim for the moon, for the sake of all my family and I”.
“It’s no secret in my family that I loved food and to cook before my diagnosis and since then, I have struggled to keep weight on and eat at all some days. But, now things are very different. I am inspired to eat and keep healthy as I have come to realise how much my strength depends on the right nutrition. With family support The Jubilee has been refurbished and extended to facilitate an entirely new home which has the scope for a complete lifestyle, which can support the changes that cancer has brought to family life, even allowing me some ability to work from home if I can!”.
“Recently I found an old picture of me on horseback outside The Jubilee for the Easter Witness Ride, the wooden cross being held up by Gwenda Bassett before we all hacked off to West Anstey Church if I recall correctly. I must have been about 11-years-old. I couldn’t help looking at my younger self in that picture and wishing for a minute that I could step back to a time when the challenges of my adulthood years had not yet befallen my path. To see that goofy toothed kid in the picture grinning like she was having the best fun of her life in that moment, never having a notion of what joys and tragedy life would bring.
From playing poker around the world with the notorious “devil fish”, to competitive pro-am snooker events, to raising awareness of the need for Anti-Stalking legislation and creating a new principle of common law in the process, and choosing a legal career intended to help others, and becoming a solicitor, I certainly had a varied and joyful youth! I was blessed with beautiful children although a troubled relationship which led to much difficulty for many years. Today I am back in the driving seat and doing what I can to fundraise for Women’s Aid and the rights women and children all whilst facing an aggressive terminal cancer – life is never dull! It’s very true that what doesn’t kill you, can make you stronger.
It was not on my radar that I would be lucky enough to have four amazing children of my own 30 years ago, or that in order to see them grow up I would need to receive from my own brother a life-lengthening liver transplant. After all of that, only then did I finally get the dream of living in the wilds of Exmoor, in the very pub that was then, painted white and gleaming in the background of the picture. Phew! They say ignorance is bliss. Thankfully I was a ignorant of that future then. I am privileged to have got through the craziness of life with a home for the children and my family which will see us through to the end of my days and be there for them to escape to in generations to come”.
The Jubilee Inn remains a private residence. The family open the doors from time to time, for community and charitable endeavours.
You never know how strong you can be, until you have no option. Speak up, have courage, and have faith that there are always good people in the world who can make a difference … and that includes you. Please support charities close to our hearts….