Dorothy Restaurant Weymouth fined for selling chocolate on a Sunday 1920!

There are many acts that were written by Parliament in times way back that have never been repealed, consequently they were sometimes evoked during later times when they made a mockery of the laws.

Such was a case in 1920, when a well-known Weymouth restauarnt fell foul of the law.

The popular Dorthy restaurant on the seafront was run at the time by Julian Burch Gilbert, a 25 year-old London lad and ex-serviceman who had made the move to Weymouth not soon after the end of WWI.


In the August of 1920, Julian found himself summonsed before the the magistrates bench charged with a breach of ‘the Lord’s Day Observance Act.’ The restaurant had done nothing more than sell a simple bar of chocolate!

His solicitor Mr Pengilly said that it was rediculous that anyone should be prosecuted for an act that was passed as long ago as 1677,(in fact it was first passed in 1625, but further amended in 1627, 1677 and 1780) and not relevant for todays world. Had the chocolate been classed as food, then the act simply would not have applied…but for what ever reason chocolate technically wasn’t listed as food!

He claimed that these were modern times,  “People indulged in boating, and in the Alexandra Gardens bandsmen were engaged on Sundays to provide music.” it made a mockery of the law that such an old and unused ruling could bring someone before the courts even today.

The magistrate had no other option than to fine Julian the 5 shillings. All for selling a bar of chocolate in a restaurant that sold food!

According to the solicitor it seems that in some parts of the country people flouted the law openly, and simply sent the 5 shilling fine down to the courts each week!

I wonder what they would have made of today’s Sunday trading? Though there are still laws governing the hours that businesses can operate on the Sabbath.

The Act had originally been passed during a period of unrest abroad (namely the French Revolution) and those in power over here in England were concerned with maintaning the status quo, and maintaining the Sabbath as a day of rest and religion.

The whole Act, so far as unrepealed, was not finally repealed by section 1 of, and Part IV of the Schedule , until the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


Related articles

Leave a Reply

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

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s