Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Funeral and fake wake in Bohemia

By David Russell, Dec 2011

Sometime in the 1970s a group of regulars from the North Star, Bohemia decided to raise some money by organising a mock funeral procession and wake around Bohemia.

A top quality coffin made from best plywood was produced by the pub committee and a ‘body’ was organised. The funeral procession complete with suitably dressed pallbearers, proceeded from pub to pub around Bohemia. One snag was that the body, dressed as Dracula, kept sitting up to see where he was going. The whole cortege was preceded by a fine band of instrumentalists. Halfway along Bohemia Road the Gas Board had left a grave into which the coffin and corpse were reverently lowered and photographed. They were then exhumed and carried shoulder high along Bohemia Road to the first stop which was the Wheatsheaf. A fair amount was collected in this pub while the pallbearers, the corpse and the band took refreshment.
The whole ensemble then reformed at the back of the pub and marched off along Cornfield Terrace, knocking on doors along the way. On reaching the Tower in Tower Road, a second pub collection was made.
A third call was made at the Dripping Spring for yet more refreshment and another collection. On returning to the North Star the wake continued into the afternoon. At its end one mourner was so overcome with grief and sustenance that he found it impossible to walk home, so he was placed in the coffin and carried shoulder high along Bohemia, through Silverhill and down Battle Road to his home.
On arrival, the coffin with body in it was stood upright at his front door, the knocker knocked, and when his wife opened the door the body slid out of the coffin and lay prostrate on the passage floor. Her comments are not printable. The proceeds from this event gave fifty-odd old age pensioners a trip to Beachy Head with sherry and chocolates before returning to a slap-up tea.

o Grateful acknowledgment to Frank Holdman, (landlord of the North Star, 1974-77) and to Vic Chalcraft, one of the ‘pallbearers’.

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