When you travel to England you plan to visit museums, cathedrals, castles and colleges as the most outstanding historical places of the country but, have you ever thought that pubs are also a rich source of British history?

Pubs are traditional social places in English-speaking countries where people can drink alcoholic beverages and get together with friends. Almost every town has its own pub with regular clients.

Pubs could be tracked back to the Roman Times when Romans settled down in Britain and built a sophisticated net of roads and Public Houses located in almost every town. One of the first Roman tavern signs was the Bush because vine leaves were rare in Britain.

Later invaders of Britain brewed barley to fix their own beverage and so alehouses were created. They were so popular that Edgar, King of Kent, regulated the size of the drinking vessels to reduce the amount of ale taken from a barrel.

The advent of Christianity didn't put a stop to drinking and sometimes ales were brewed for Church Festivals. During the Middle Ages alehouses became more popular and with the increase of population, industry and even the Death of Thomas Becket in 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral, lots of travelers and pilgrimages were on the roads and inns run by monks gave shelter and food to the travelers.

By the 12th century pubs got names reflected in simple, religious signs such as the sun, the stars and the cross but later they became influenced by the coat of arms and powerful landowners. The crown is probably one of the most common sign for a pub and most Kings and Queens of the middle-ages shown on pub signs, though the sign was called king, queen, head or arms.

The Red Lion is one of the most common names for a pub since James I and VI of Scotland came to the throne in 1603 and ordered that the heraldic red lion of Scotland be displayed on all-important buildings, including pubs.

As urban life developed, professionals and wealthy people became permanent dwellers of towns so taverns provided them high-quality food, wine and relaxation, turning the inns into place visited only by the poor. By the end of 18th century alehouses sold wine too and taverns had lost their prestige so professionals and wealthy men moved to the gentlemen clubs.

As different transport services were introduced between the most important cities, the coaching inns appeared, giving passengers and coachmen an opportunity to refresh, eat, have fun and feed their horses. Consequently inns became trade places where business developed.

Drunkenness became a serious problem because alcohol was safer than water and so French wines and brandies were banned, giving an opportunity to the rise of gin-shops, where gin was produced cheaply, encouraging people to drink even more.

Although different laws, movements and restrictions on licenses changed the regulations of pubs along their history, pubs still represent a national pastime. There are about 50,000 pubs in UK where friends and strangers start an informal conversation on a pint.

So, next time you go to UK don't forget to drink and eat in a British pub.

About the author

Monica Di Santi is a travel study consultant at E1-network.com.

With more than 15 years working as teacher, translator and web writer. She holds a master degree in Linguistics an is the author of Fun with Languages.

Her articles and stories have been published in USA , Canada and India.


Thanks for your comment

I see The Grauniad ran true to form, and tidied up your piece with a blunt spoon in the olinne version.I quite enjoyed the inclusion of the Hermit's Cave in Camberwell. I used to go in a lot - a decent enough pint, good plain food served generously...


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of punters. Of csruoe pundits are worse than useless, being usually innumerate.I base my psehphological predictions on econometric and politico-metric data. Mainly cyclical swings overlaying secular trends.Also I dislike predicting seats totals. These numbers are too much beholden to unpredictable local factors gerrymandering, personalities etc. They are not proportionate to preference so do not give a reliable psephological index to ideological movements.Ray Fair's was for an Obama/DEM victory, roughly 52-48 split in the popular vote:Given these values, the predicted Republican vote share (of the two-party vote) is 48.09 percent. So the prediction is 51.91 for the Democrats and 48.09 for the Republicans, for a spread of 3.82.I also use , which came to roughly the same conclusion a 3-4% spread.The shaded region of the Table identifies the most probable combinations of cumulative US fatalities in Iraq and weighted-average real income growth. Those political-economic fundamentals imply an expected Republican two-party vote share centered on 48.2%. Barring unforeseen political shocks favoring the Republican candidate (presumptively John McCain), the Democratic standard bearer (presumptively Barack Obama) ought to win the 2008 presidential election by a margin in the neighborhood of 3.6 percentage points.Obviously these are abstract models based on largely cyclical politico-economic factors. Both Fair and Hibbs acknowledge that their models have to be tweaked to take account of local and temporal factors.The most important of these is the sheer ineptitude of the REPs and their obvious beholdeness to eccentric or elitist special interests. In my book that just about doubles the potential Obama/DEM victory margin spread, out to 6%+ (53+-47-).The one fly in the ointment with these models is the influence of the personality of the candidate. Pretty clearly Gore's persona (and Nader's wildcat) was a big negative in 2000, depressing the DEM vote from a potential 53% to an actual 48%.I predict that Obama's per! sona is a net positive. My anecdotal observation of the US, based on long observation and habitation, is that for every swing voter who is put off by Obama's racial identity there is at least one swing voter + who is attracted by Obama's trans-racial cultural appeal. So I think that the Bradley effect is not going to be significant.The best way to test this prediction is to compare the Obama/McCain split in Presidential contest with the DEM/REP split in the more generic Congressional contest. Any big variation in popular vote ratios between the two branches is an indicator of the degree of racism (or anti-racism ) in the US polity.Since the REP base (which holds the largest population of racists ) is demoralised it is going to be hard to get it out of bed on election day. Conversely the DEM base is mobilised, going by Obama's massive crowd appeal and his gi-normous web-based Obamatronic army of drones.So I predict that the Obama vote in the Presidential elections will be at least as good as the DEM vote in Congressional elections. I will go out on a limb and say that Obama will shade the Congressional DEMs in the popular vote, much against the Conventional Wisdom.But I will not lay out money on this bet.


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