On the face of it, there was nothing exceptional about John Wright the landlord of the St John’s public house, Melchbourne, and yet it was this that was truly exceptional! At his funeral on Thursday 21 March 2013, John was described by the vicar as a generous and kind-hearted man; to those qualities we can add welcoming, unaffected, warm, congenial … the list goes on. There was ‘nothing exceptional’ about the pub that he ran either, except that judged by the same standards as the man who ran it (and the two are inseparable) that’s what made it exceptional. In an age when most pubs are suffering from the same identity crisis as the country, where nothing on the outside can be guaranteed to represent what lies across the threshold, where honest-to-goodness old-fashioned pub interiors are being torn apart in a whim by the sharp young men in suits who sit on the boards of pub management companies, the St John’s endured and was an oasis in the desert of mediocrity. Today, nothing can be relied on to remain the same for long, but the St John’s had a wonderful continuity: spit and sawdust to some; honesty and integrity to others. A trip to the St John’s was like putting on an old pair of slippers — at once easy, comfortable and welcoming.
The St John’s and John Wright were inseparable; they were an institution. And whether the building stays as a pub or, as most speculate, will be sold off as a private dwelling, standing there on that quiet junction between Swineshead, Yelden and Melchbourne the St John’s Arms will forever be a monument to itself and a monument to the man who ran it ~ a kind-hearted, good-natured man who made us all so very welcome over so many years. Thanks for the memory John.