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TV chef and Sherborne priest John Eley on Dorset life
John Eley, the "cooking canon"
John Eley was Curate at Sherborne Abbey for three years.

A former curate of Sherborne Abbey is appealing for help as he writes his autobiography.

Before joining the Church, John Eley worked in various theatres, and was lighting director at the Palace Court Theatre, Bournemouth in 1966.

He would like to hear recollections of the theatre productions on at the time.

While he was living in Sherborne Reverend Eley also found fame as a TV chef. He was known as the Cooking Canon and worked on both BBC One and ITV.

He was spotted by TV producers after doing a display in a shop window in Sherborne to promote an Abbey Cookery recipe book.

Rev Eley first appeared on television as the "Cooking Canon" on BBC programme Pebble Mill at One in 1980. He was later a regular chef on TV:am breakfast programme Good Morning Britain.

"I always did television in my dog collar as a clergyman," said Reverend Eley.

"Everything was live. I did the shopping, the preparation, the cooking, the live performance. There was no 'here's one I made earlier'."

Finding food

However he admits that he did not create his own recipes.

"There are millions of recipes out there - we were quite honest and would say we had got it from an old book," he said.

"We got 12 - 14,000 letters a week requesting the recipes, and this was in the days before email."

Suffolk-born Rev Eley was ordained at Sherborne Abbey.

"It was the first time a man and a woman were made deacons at the same time," he said.

He is now partly retired but still a priest with the Anglican Church.

"I'm still in touch with the young men and women who were teenagers when I was curate," he said.

"Television is a very powerful medium - even today you are recognised by people. But locally they knew me as a priest."

If you would like to pass on information about the Palace Court Theatre please email dorset@bbc.co.uk.

Reverend John Eley talks to Alex Dyke on BBC Radio Solent on Monday 20 December.




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