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Title: Old Country Inns of England
Author: Gregory, Edward W., Maskell, Henry P.
Language: English
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OLD COUNTRY INNS OF ENGLAND



_Uniform with this volume_


INNS AND TAVERNS OF OLD LONDON

Setting forth the historical and literary associations of those ancient
hostelries, together with an account of the most notable coffee-houses,
clubs, and pleasure gardens of the British metropolis.

By HENRY C. SHELLEY

With coloured frontispiece, and 48 other illustrations

L. C. PAGE & COMPANY

53 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.



[Illustration: The Chequers, Loose]



  Old Country Inns of England

  BY HENRY P. MASKELL
  AND EDWARD W. GREGORY

  _With Illustrations by_
  THE AUTHORS


  BOSTON
  L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
  MDCCCCXI



PREFACE


“Why do your guide books tell us about nothing but Churches and Manor
Houses?” Such was the not altogether unjustifiable complaint of an
American friend whose motor car was undergoing repairs. He was stranded in
a sleepy old market town of winding streets, overhanging structures and
oddly set gables, where every stone and carved beam seemed only waiting an
interpreter to unfold its story.

In the following pages we have attempted a classification and description
of the inns, which not only sheltered our forefathers when on their
journeys, but served as their usual places for meeting and recreation. The
subject is by no means exhausted. All over England there are hundreds of
other old inns quite as interesting as those which find mention, and it is
hoped that our work may prove for many tourists the introduction to a most
fascinating study.

Thoughtful men, including earnest Churchmen such as the Bishop of
Birmingham and the Rev. H. R. Gamble, are asking the question whether the
old inns should be allowed to disappear. The public house as a national
institution has still its purposes to fulfil, and a few suggestions have
therefore been included with a view of showing how it might easily be
adapted to modern social needs.



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                           PAGE

      I. MANORIAL INNS                                               1

     II. MONASTIC INNS                                              14

    III. THE HOSPICES                                               29

     IV. THE RISE OF THE TOWNS                                      41

      V. THE CRAFT GUILDS AND TRADERS’ INNS                         56

     VI. CHURCH INNS AND CHURCH ALES                                67

    VII. COACHING INNS                                              81

   VIII. WAYSIDE INNS AND ALEHOUSES                                 96

     IX. HISTORIC SIGNS AND HISTORIC INNS                          112

      X. SPORTS AND PASTIMES                                       135

     XI. THE INNS OF LITERATURE AND ART                            148

    XII. FANCIFUL SIGNS AND CURIOUS SIGNBOARDS                     160

   XIII. HAUNTED INNS                                              181

    XIV. OLD INNS AND THEIR ARCHITECTURE                           195

     XV. THE COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER                                  209

    XVI. THE NEW INN AND ITS POSSIBILITIES                         220

   XVII. INN FURNITURE                                             237

  XVIII. THE INNKEEPER                                             256

    XIX. PUBLIC HOUSE REFORM                                       272



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                  PAGE

  THE CHEQUERS, LOOSE                                   _Frontispiece_

  THE KING’S ARMS, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD                                   x

  THE SPREAD EAGLE, MIDHURST                                     8, 10

  THE BULL, SUDBURY                                                 19

  PIGEON HOUSE AT THE BULL, LONG MELFORD                            21

  YARD OF THE WHITE HORSE, DORKING                                  27

  THE WHITE HART, BRENTWOOD                                         42

  THE SWAN, FELSTEAD                                                51

  THE BRICKLAYERS’ ARMS, CAXTON                                     61

  THE GOLDEN FLEECE, SOUTH WEALD                                    63

  PORCH, CHALK CHURCH, KENT                               _facing_  67

  CHURCH HOUSE, PENSHURST                                           72

  THE PUNCH BOWL, HIGH EASTER                                   74, 76

  YARD OF THE WHITE HART, ST. ALBANS                                84

  COACH GALLERY AT THE BULL, LONG MELFORD                           86

  FIREPLACE AT THE WHITE HART, WITHAM                               89

  OLD COACHING INNS, ST. ALBANS                                     94

  BOTOLPH’S BRIDGE INN, ROMNEY MARSH                                95

  THE WHITE HORSE, PLESHY                                           99

  THE CHEQUERS, DODDINGTON                                _facing_ 104

  THE CHEQUERS, REDBOURNE                                          106

  THE THREE HORSE SHOES, PAPWORTH EVERARD                          108

  THE HORSESHOES, LICKFOLD                                         109

  THE RED LION, WINGHAM                                            113

  THE SWAN, SUTTON VALENCE                                         116

  THE KING’S HEAD, ROEHAMPTON                                      119

  THE NELSON, MAIDSTONE                                            129

  THE HORSE AND GROOM, NEAR WALTHAM ST. LAWRENCE                   136

  THE FALSTAFF, CANTERBURY                                         149

  THE SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, NEWINGTON                                 152

  SIGN OF THE FOX AND HOUNDS, BARLEY                               165

  SIGN OF BLACK’S HEAD, ASHBOURNE                                  170

  SIGN OF WHITE HART, WITHAM                                       173

  THE ANGEL, THEALE                                                175

  THE CLOTHIERS’ ARMS, STROUD                             _facing_ 184

  THE GREYHOUND INN, STROUD                                   "    190

  THE SHIP, WINGHAM                                                194

  THE KING’S HEAD, AYLESBURY                                       196

  TAP-ROOM AT THE BULL, SUDBURY                                    198

  THE KING’S HEAD, LOUGHTON, ESSEX                        _facing_ 200

  FIREPLACE AT THE SUN, FEERING                                    203

  FIREPLACE AT THE NOAH’S ARK, LURGASHALL                          207

  FOX AND PELICAN INN, HASLEMERE                          _facing_ 212

  THE WHITE HORSE INN, STETCHWORTH, NEWMARKET                 "    228

  THE WOODMAN INN, FARNBOROUGH, KENT                          "    240

  THE WHEATSHEAF INN, LOUGHTON, ESSEX                         "    248

  THE SKITTLES INN, LETCHWORTH, HERTS                         "    254

  RECREATION ROOM IN THE SKITTLES INN, LETCHWORTH, HERTS      "    266

  THE BELL INN, BELL COMMON, EPPING                           "    280

  SIGN OF THE ANGEL INN, WOOLHAMPTON                               285



[Illustration: The King’s Arms, Hemel Hempstead]



OLD COUNTRY INNS



CHAPTER I

MANORIAL INNS


Which among the thousand of old inns to be met with on our country roads
has a right to be called the oldest? There are many claimants. The
title-deeds of the _Saracen’s Head_ at Newark refer back to 1341. Local
antiquaries cite documentary evidence to prove that the _Seven Stars_ at
Manchester existed before the year 1356. Symond Potyn, who founded St.
Catherine’s Hospital for poor Pilgrims at Rochester in 1316, is described
as “of the _Crown Inn_.” A Nottingham ballad relates the adventures of one
Dame Rose who kept the _Ram_ in that town “in the days of good King
Stephen.” Then we have the witness of the German Ambassador to the comfort
and excellence of the _Fountain_ at Canterbury, when he lodged there in
1299, on the occasion of the marriage of King Edward I to Margaret of
France. Nay, the legend runs that within its walls the four murderers of
St. Thomas arranged the last details of their plot in 1170, and that the
wife of Earl Godwin stayed at this inn in 1029. But what are all these
compared with the _Fighting Cocks_ at St. Albans, said to be the oldest
inhabited house in England? A few years ago its signboard modestly
chronicled the fact that it had been “Rebuilt after the Flood.”

Nevertheless, we can safely assert that no English inn has a history of
more than 800 years, and that very few hostelries can trace their
independent existence to a period earlier than the fourteenth century.
Until the towns had acquired rights of self-government and trade had in
consequence begun to expand, there was little occasion for inns. England
under the Norman kings was a purely agricultural country with scattered
villages where dependent tillers of the soil grouped their clay-walled
thatched hovels around church and manor-house. Even ancient towns, with a
record of a thousand years, were merely rather larger villages on a
navigable river or a cross road. Foreign merchant ships were just
beginning to call once more at the seaports on the chance of trade.

Travelling on the roads was attended with serious dangers and
inconveniences. Robbers abounded, some not so courteous and discriminating
as the legendary Robin Hood. Armed retainers at the tail of some noble
lord’s retinue were occasionally not above a little highway robbery on
their own account, and if the victim failed to beat off his assailant his
remedy at law was precarious at best. Such a band, if sufficiently
numerous, would even go so far as to attack the King’s officers sent in
pursuit of them. The journey might at any time be brought to an abrupt
conclusion because the travellers’ horses and carts were forcibly
commandeered by the purveyor to the King or some great noble. The roads
themselves were in a disgraceful state, full of deep ruts, holes and
quagmires, quite impassable in wet weather; their repair was left to
chance or the good-will of neighbouring owners. In the towns they were
encumbered with heaps of refuse. The rolls of Parliament from the reign of
Edward I onward contain numerous petitions for a regular highway tax.

A curious illustration of the lack of any systematic authority over the
roads, even as late as the fifteenth century, is preserved in the records
of the Manor of Aylesbury. A local miller, named Richard Boose, needed
some ramming clay for the repair of his mill. Accordingly his servants dug
a great pit in the middle of the road, ten feet wide and eight feet deep,
and so left it to become filled with water from the winter rains. A glover
from Leighton Buzzard, on his way home from market, fell in and was
drowned. Charged with manslaughter, the miller pleaded that he knew no
place wherein to get the kind of clay he required except on the high road.
He was acquitted.[1]

Furthermore, all England was parcelled out into manors, each a little
principality in itself presided over by a lord who in practice possessed
summary rights over life and property within his domain. A stranger might
be called upon to undergo a very searching examination to account for his
presence in the neighbourhood. Most of the inhabitants were forbidden to
leave the demesne without the consent of their lord. Not that this was a
great hardship; the idea of a journey rarely occurs to the bucolic mind,
and fully half the rural population of England in these days of cheap
railway excursions are content to spend their lives within their native
parish, or at any rate never venture beyond the market town.

In every manor there was a manor-house, the residence of the lord and the
centre of the life of the community. It was usually quite a simple
building on the main street near the church. Here were held the manor
courts, view of frank pledge, assize of bread and ale and other quaint
customs, some of which have come down to our own days. Hither at Hocktide
and harvest would come the tenants and their wives, bringing their own
platters, cups and napkins for their feast.

Such few travellers as were benighted on the road, small merchants or
pedlars going to a local fair, a knight or squire on his way to court,
Kings’ messengers and officials, would naturally put up at the
manor-house. Hospitality was so rarely called for that it was willingly
afforded, just as it is at an Australian homestead in the backwoods. One
more sleeping place on the rushes in the hall, another seat at the common
table--above or below the salt according to the hosteller’s estimate of
the guest’s condition in life--was no great matter. Doubtless each in his
own degree made his present to the hosteller in the morning; the butler
in a country house still expects his solatium from the parting guest.

By the middle of the fourteenth century the roads had become more
frequented, and it was no longer the fashion for the lord to reside in the
comparatively humble manor-house. The cost of living had seriously
increased; the nobility were impoverished by attendance at court, the
foreign wars, and their crowd of retainers. So the lord retired to his
more secluded castle or country seat, leaving strangers to be entertained
at the manor-house by a steward who afterwards was replaced by a regular
innkeeper as tenant. Throughout these changes the family crest or arms
remained on the front of the building. Or sometimes the manor-house was
turned to other uses and an inn was built close by, and the coat of arms
hung over the door in order to induce travellers to transfer their custom
thither. Such is the origin of the official inn throughout feudal Europe,
but in the Black Forest and the Tyrol the process was sometimes completely
reversed. As the nobility became poorer they parted with their estates and
turned innkeepers. One can still now and then make the surprising
discovery that mine host is by birth a baron, actually entitled to bear
the arms above his door, and that it is his ancestors who sleep under
those magnificent marble tombs in the minster hard by.

Inns with heraldic emblems for their signs, or called the Norfolk Arms,
Dorset Arms, Neville Arms, according to the local landowner, abound
everywhere--the actual arms scarcely ever being emblazoned on account of
the heavy tax on armorial bearings. But it is not easy to trace their
connection with the manor-house. Manors have been alienated over and over
again; with each change the sign on the inn has usually been repainted
with the arms of the new owner. One of the few exceptions is the _Tiger_
at Lindfield, which carries us back to the Michelbournes of the fourteenth
century.

For a characteristic example of a manorial inn we must invite our readers
to visit the sleepy town of Midhurst, venerable in its winding streets of
projecting upper stories, deeply moulded eaves and gables; a town nestling
among the gentler slopes of the South Downs, on the banks of that sweetest
and most musical of trout streams, the Sussex Rother. Here is an old inn,
far away from the great roads which no vandal has yet ventured to
rebuild. The older portion dates from about 1430, and no doubt stands on
the site of the original manor-house of the De Bohuns. It is an excellent
example of an early timber-framed house of the better class, with massive
old oak ceilings, ingle-nooks and “down” fires. The old fireplaces and
recessed ovens are pronounced by experts to be genuine fourteenth-century
work. A very large addition was made in 1650, when the stables were also
built. This latter portion will not be regretted by the visitor who loves
more comfort and cheery surroundings than is possible in a conscientiously
preserved fourteenth-century hotel.

[Illustration: The Spread Eagle, Midhurst]

In clearing away the paint from one of the panelled rooms at the _Spread
Eagle_ an inscription was discovered: “The Queen’s Room,” possibly
referring to the much travelled Queen Elizabeth who was entertained
“marvellously, nay rather excessively,” by Sir Anthony Browne, first
Viscount Montagu, at Cowdray, in 1591. A melancholy interest attaches to
the sign of the _Spread Eagle_. It was the crest of the Montagu family,
which came to an end in 1793 with the drowning of the last Viscount
Montagu at Schaffhausen, on the Rhine, in the very same week that his
splendid mansion at Cowdray was destroyed by fire.

It is worth noting that the double-gabled house in the foreground of our
first picture of the _Spread Eagle_ (once also an inn, now a cosy
temperance hotel) was built early in the seventeenth century by an
ancestor of Richard Cobden.

On royal manors the crown was more frequently employed as a distinguishing
mark of the manorial hall than the royal arms. Inns having for their
signs the King’s Arms have usually assumed this title during the
Reformation period when the royal arms were ordered to be set up in the
churches. An exception is the _King’s Arms_ Hotel at Godalming, which has
every reason to claim to be the original inn of the royal manor. The
present building is not much more than two centuries old, a fine
substantial example of red-brick domestic architecture in the reign of
good Queen Anne. An oak-panelled room is shown to visitors as that in
which Peter the Great Czar of Russia slept during his visit to England.
The landlord’s bill on this occasion is preserved as a curiosity in the
Bodleian library. The items of the bill are as follows: Breakfast--half a
sheep, a quarter of lamb, ten pullets, twelve chickens, three quarts of
brandy, six quarts of mulled wine, seven dozen of eggs, with salad in
proportion. At dinner the company had five ribs of beef weighing three
stone, one sheep weighing fifty pound, three quarters of lamb, a shoulder
and loin of veal boiled, eight pullets, eight rabbits, two-and-a-half
dozen sack and one dozen of claret. The number of guests was twenty-one.

[Illustration: The Spread Eagle, Midhurst]

There is another old inn at Godalming with the sign of _Three Lions_. We
have not been able to obtain any authentic information about its history,
and it may be only a coincidence that the royal arms before Edward III
quartered the arms of France consisted of three lions on a shield.

Even if inns that can prove their authentic manorial origin are few and
far between, this class of hostelry must once have been the most important
of all. The nomenclature of the thirteenth-century manor is preserved in
every detail of the modern inn. The hosteller remains as the ostler, who
now usually confines his attention to four-footed visitors; the
chamberlain has changed his sex (though only since the days of Sir Roger
de Coverley) and has become the Chambermaid. In most old manor-houses
provisions, wine and ale were served from a special department close to
the porch and called the “bower,” from Norse _Bür_, meaning buttery.
Frequenters of a modern inn resort for the same purpose to the “bar.”
Lastly, the presiding genius in every hotel or tavern, no matter how
humble, is invariably referred to as “the Landlord.” The very word “Inn,”
like the French _hôtel_, anciently implied the town residence of a
nobleman. The Inns of Court were nearly all of them houses of the nobility
converted for the purpose of lodging the law students there. The same
remark applies to the inns which preceded the cloistered colleges of our
older universities.

But we usually know the English inn by a much nobler name--a name which
carries us back to an age many generations before there were any manorial
lords to the tribal chief, and beyond the tribal chieftain to the common
dwelling of our Aryan forefathers. We generally refer to it as “The
public-house.” It is the one secular place of resort where we can all
forget our social differences; where millionaire and pauper, nobleman and
navvy can hob-nob together on equal ground if they care to do so. The
public-house opens its doors to every well-behaved citizen without
distinction of persons. It is the abiding witness to the common
brotherhood of man. For the public-house is not merely an institution to
provide lodging and refreshment for the individual wayfarer, nor yet a
shop for the sale of certain specific liquids; it is a place where men can
meet to entertain each other, and converse with their fellow men on equal
terms. As such it is hateful to the sectary, who would fain see men sorted
out into exclusive coteries for the airing of their own opinions and class
grievances.



CHAPTER II

MONASTIC INNS


Rural England, during the two centuries after the Conquest, was
practically under martial law. The hardy Men of Kent and the Vale of
Holmsdale were strong enough to retain some of their ancient rights and
privileges. Beyond these districts local government was suppressed and a
military despotism took its place, administered often by half-civilized
chieftains. One influence alone was formidable enough to modify and soften
the crude tyranny of the feudal system--that of the Monasteries.

The religious orders were the only class who had directly profited by the
new regime to increase their power. Hitherto merely national they now
became, in a way, part of an international system. Not that they ceased to
be patriotic. In the combinations against regal misrule which produced the
Great Charters, Bishops and Abbots threw in their lot heartily with the
lay barons. But in themselves they formed at this time an almost
independent authority with special privileges dangerous to meddle with,
because behind them was the Universal Church and its temporal head the
Pope, now just reaching the zenith of his authority.

It was the religious orders that saved England from barbarism. Each
monastery was a kind of impregnable city within which all the graces of
civilization were fostered. Here learning, literature and art were
diligently studied; rich and poor, bondman and free, were welcomed as
scholars if only they proved their ability to profit by the tuition. A
certain number of manors were allotted to the Church, and this number was
constantly being increased by royal or private benefaction. The tenants of
ecclesiastical manors, more especially the villeins or serfs, were in
these early times much better treated than those subject to the secular
lords. The tenures were generally easy, labour customs could be commuted
for a small sum of money, and the serfs could acquire freedom on very
moderate terms. Enlightened forms of lease were introduced.

The monks were the great agriculturists of the Middle Ages, and so were
concerned in the maintenance of facilities for traffic. Apart from this
their one duty to the State was to satisfy the _trinoda necessitas_,
particularly the care of roads and bridges. This was considered a pious
and meritorious duty often rewarded with special indulgences; such
undertakings were a work of mercy, in that they befriended the unfortunate
traveller. The roads adjoining a monastic estate were usually kept in fair
condition, as compared with those in other districts. The first London
Bridge was built by the Prior of St. Mary Overie; another great endowed
bridge, that over the Medway at Rochester, owes its origin to the great
St. Dunstan. Nearly all the picturesque gothic bridges which still survive
were the work of the monks. Travelling was in many other ways directly
fostered by the monasteries. Communications were constantly passing
between the various houses of an order, many of which were on the
Continent. Authority for the election of a new abbot or a change in the
statutes would have to be obtained from Rome. The two centuries after the
Conquest witnessed a continual rebuilding and beautifying of the Abbey
Churches. Materials had to be brought from a distance, skilled artists
engaged, rich plate, metal work, and ornate vestments procured for the
altar-service. All this was a great stimulus to trade.

The doors of the monastery were open to all comers, and there were many
reasons why hospitality would be sought at a religious house in preference
to the manorial inn. Rich people resorted to them because of their comfort
and security; the poor because there was nothing to pay. No unpleasant
questions were likely to be asked; so we find Quentin Durward (in the
novel of Sir Walter Scott, which gives us such an excellent idea of the
period he describes,) always avoiding the public inns and taking refuge at
the monasteries in order to minimize the risk of his secret mission being
betrayed. Most of these houses had been endowed by the king or nobles, and
their descendants considered themselves at home within the precincts.

These noble guests, especially when they were accompanied by a
miscellaneous retinue, were apt to be rather too roisterous and turbulent
for the cloister. A statute of Edward I forbids anyone to lodge at a
religious house without the formal invitation of the Superior, unless he
be the founder, and then he must conform closely to the rules and
regulations. The poor alone were to retain the right to the grace of
hospitality free of charge. Numerous later statutes were enacted with the
same end in view. The monks of Battle rebuilt their Guest House outside
the Abbey Gate where it still remains a most beautiful example of
fifteenth-century half-timber work. Long before this time, however,
another expedient had been devised to cope with the increasing crowd of
travellers needing rest and refreshment.

Whenever we come across an inn bearing the sign of the _Bull_ it is worth
while to inquire whether there was formerly a religious house in the
neighbourhood. We have examined into the history of upwards of a hundred
“Bulls,” and even where definite proof has not been forthcoming, the
circumstantial evidence has always been sufficient to arouse suspicion. It
is especially a common sign in connection with a nunnery. Thus the inns of
this name at Dartford, Barking and Malling, all three very ancient,
belonged to the local abbeys. At Hythe, on the Medway, a manor of Malling
Abbey, there is a _Bull Inn_; and another at Theale in Berkshire, which
was the property of the prioress of Goring. Elfrida, the mother-in-law of
Edward the Martyr, founded a nunnery at Reading in expiation of the base
murder of that prince. This nunnery was abolished owing to scandals in the
twelfth century, but a _Bull Inn_ still flourishes near the site of the
Abbey Gate. At Newington, next Sittingbourne, the prioress was found
strangled in her bed and the nuns were removed elsewhere, but the _Bull_
remains as the chief inn to this day.

[Illustration: The Bull, Sudbury]

In deeds of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries relating to the _Bull_
at Barking, this house is referred to as “tectum vel hospitium vocatum le
_Bole_.” _Bole_ is the old French equivalent of the Latin _bulla_, a seal
from which it is clear that no bovine connection is implied by the sign,
but merely that the inn was licensed under the seal of the Abbey. Some
antiquaries have suggested that such inns were tied houses where ale of
monastic brewing was sold, reminding us of the current explanation of the
xx and xxx marks on barrels of strong ale, as having been originally the
seals guaranteeing the quality in the days when the monks were the leading
brewers. It is true that the peculiar virtue of the wells at
Burton-on-Trent was known at a very early period, and that the ale brewed
in the local Abbey was an article of commerce when Richard I was king.
Tied houses were not uncommon in the Middle Ages, witness the _Bear Inn_
in Southwark, leased in 1319 by Thomas Drinkwater, wine merchant to James
Beauflur, on condition that he purchased all his liquor from the said
Thomas Drinkwater, who agreed to furnish all needful flagons, mugs,
cutlery and linen. On the other hand, very few collegiate houses brewed
ale beyond the needs of their own consumption, and we have not yet come
across any lease binding their tenants. Mention is often made of a
brewhouse attached to the inn. As to the marks on the barrels a prosaic
solution is that these are merely excise marks of the seventeenth century,
when beer was taxed according to its strength.

[Illustration: Pigeon House at the Bull, Long Melford]

Whatever the terms of its original lease may have been the _Bull_ profited
by monastic favour and protection to grow into a big and prosperous
establishment. It is nearly always the leading hostelry of the town. Two
centuries ago the _Bull_ at St. Albans was described by Baskerville as the
largest in England, but with the decay of the coaching trade it has
retired into private life. Mr. Jingle’s recommendation of the _Bull_ at
Rochester, “Good house, nice beds,” might be fairly applied to nearly
every _Bull Inn_ of our acquaintance. The sign is a symbol of steady-going
respectable old-fashioned ways, where comfort is not sacrificed to
economy, and where the cellar and kitchen are alike irreproachable. Any
remnants of antiquity are concealed behind a broad Georgian façade, for
good business entails frequent rebuilding. The _Bull_ at Barking is now to
all appearance a quite modern hotel. Few would guess that its history
could be traced for seven hundred years, and that twice during that time
it has been occupied by a single family for more than a century. In 1636
it was sold to St. Margaret’s Hospital in Westminster, for the sum of one
shilling; and therefore continues to be collegiate property.

To avoid confusion we must remind the reader that the “_Bull’s Head_”
denotes the crest of the Nevilles or, occasionally, Anne Boleyn. The _Pied
Bull_ is a whimsical sign found near a cattle market or bull-ring. A few
inns, too, received the name of the Bull in Elizabethan or Jacobean times
when astrology was popular, and Taurus happened to be the house ascendant
in the horary figure. Thus in Ben Jonson’s “Alchemist”:

    “A townsman born in Taurus given the bull, or the Bull’s head; in
    Aries the ram.”

Sometimes in place of the official seal the monastic inn bore for its sign
a picture or carving of a religious mystery. Outside the Abbey Gate, at
Bury St. Edmunds, is the _Angel Inn_, once called the _Angelus_ or
_Salutation_; there is another _Angel Inn_, probably monastic, in
Guildford. Both of these are famous for their beautiful Early English
crypts, groined and vaulted in stone. The _Angel_ at Grantham belonged to
the Knights Templars. At Addington in Kent the _Angel_ has a very odd
staircase of great antiquity, each tread being a solid log of timber; and
an underground passage, which local gossip connects with a priory at
Ryarsh. Another monastic _Angel_ at Basingstoke is said to be the subject
of Ben Jonson’s coarse epigram, inspired by the departure of his hostess,
Mrs. Hope and her daughter Prudence. The _Cock_ as an emblem of St. Peter,
and the _Crosskeys_ are frequently found. The most interesting inn in the
city of Westminster was the _Cock and Tabard_, in Tothill Street, pulled
down in 1871. It dated from the reign of Edward III, and it was here,
according to Stowe, that the workmen engaged in the completion of the
Abbey Church were paid. From its yard two centuries later the first
stage-coach to Oxford was started. Battle Abbey possessed several “_Star_”
inns, the best known of which was the _Star_ at Alfriston, which may
either be named after Our Lady, Star of the Sea, or after the Earl of
Sussex, one of whose badges was the star.

Semi-religious signs such as the _Angel_, _Star_ and _Mitre_ are not
always monastic, nor need they imply pre-reformation origin. The Angel at
Islington is, comparatively speaking, a mushroom upstart. Under the sign
of the _Angel_, Jacobs, a Jew, opened in 1650 one of the first
coffee-houses in the parish of St. Peter, Oxford. A pious Roundhead might
find chapter and verse for the sign and gloat over the conceit of
entertaining an Angel--perhaps not unawares. Puritan sects have been known
to give the official title of “Angel” to their itinerant preachers. The
_Cock Tavern_, in Fleet Street, in spite of the splendid gilt chanticleer
(generally attributed to Grinling Gibbons) has no connection with St.
Peter. An advertisement, printed in the _Intelligence_ of 1665, shows
that its old name was the _Cock and Bottle_. Cock is still used in some
parts of the country for the spigot, or tap in a barrel; and the sign was
simply a short way of informing the bibulous that they could obtain here
ale both on draught and in bottle.

A monastic inn far exceeding in world-wide fame all others, is that
_Tabard Inn_ in the Borough, whence five hundred years ago thirty merry
pilgrims set forth on a springtide morning on their three days’ journey
along the old Watling Street to Canterbury. The _Tabard_ was a speculation
of the Abbot of Hyde, Winchester, and no doubt a profitable one, for its
landlords were always men of character and substance who would attract
guests of good class. Harry Bailey, Chaucer’s friend, represented
Southwark in two successive parliaments, and another landlord, William
Rutton, sat in Parliament for East Grinstead in 1529. Built in 1307,
together with a hostel for the clergy of the monastery, it remained in
much the same condition as when Chaucer sang its praises until about 1602.
The stone-coloured wooden gallery, in front of which hung a picture of the
Canterbury Pilgrimage, attributed to Blake, and the so-called “Pilgrim’s
room” were probably of this period; the rest was rebuilt after the great
fire of Southwark, 1676. Twenty years ago all was demolished, and a
gin-shop on its site of modern, vulgar red-brick mock gothic absurdly
claims the title of “_The Old Tabard_.”

One religious order never attempted to divert the increasing stream of
guests into the inns. With the Knights Hospitallers all comers were
welcomed; the entertainment of strangers remained their chief duty. The
accounts of their house in Clerkenwell for the year 1337 show that they
had spent more than their whole revenue--at least £8,000, the reason
being, as the prior explains, the hospitality given to strangers, members
of the royal family and other grandees who all expected to be entertained
in accordance with their rank. A noble would occasionally send his whole
suite to the convent in order to save expense. The Knight monks finding no
Paynim to demolish became an order of hotel-keepers, and travellers never
failed to profit by the generous fare provided in their numerous
establishments.

[Illustration: Yard of the White Horse, Dorking]

At Dorking, when the Knights departed, the innkeeper took their place and
continues to keep up the old traditions. The _White Cross_ is now the
_White Horse_, though not from any similarity of names but because the
Earls of Arundel, and afterwards the Dukes of Norfolk, were lords of the
manor. In later life the _White Horse_ was a famous coaching house, and
rebuildings have apparently destroyed any feature older than say three
centuries. Perhaps it was in the yard of this house, where a noble old
vine spreads green fragrance over the great white gables, that Charles
Dickens met the individual who sat for the portrait of Tony Weller. Deep
underneath the building are a series of vaults cut out of the
sandstone--maybe a relic of the Hospitallers. In one of the lowest is a
curious old well. Tradition has it that these cellars were used in the
smuggling days. To lovers of the road the quaint gables and broad oriels
of the _White Horse_ are no mean landmark, for they are the destination of
a real old-fashioned coach and four running hither from Charing Cross
daily during the summer months.



CHAPTER III

THE HOSPICES


Mention of the Knights Hospitallers brings us by an easy stage to
pilgrimages; it was the original purpose of this order to keep open the
route to the Holy Places and to assist the sick and needy pilgrims on
their journey. Some pious merchants of Amalfi obtained permission to found
a refuge for destitute pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, about
the middle of the eleventh century. At first the brethren of St. John were
content with nursing the sick and relieving the hungry in the Jerusalem
Hospice, and in this work of mercy earned the toleration of Saladin when
he once more captured Jerusalem from the Christians. But at this time they
had already taken to the sword and had become very active and trenchant
members of the Church Militant.

Rich in glowing romance and stirring adventure is the story of the
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and the many expeditions to regain possession of
the Holy Land. We are more concerned with the ordinary Englishman. While
the Crusade ensured the absence for a season of a goodly number of
turbulent lords and truculent retainers, he was at liberty to visit the
shrines of his own country. At Glastonbury was the chapel of St. Joseph of
Arimathea and the sacred Thorn, as venerable as anything in Christendom.
Hardly less ancient was the shrine of the first martyr, St. Alban; while
at Durham he might kneel in reverence before the relics of the great St.
Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. St. Ethelbert of Hereford and St. Edmund
at Bury St. Edmunds would equally invite the suffrages of their clients.

Pilgrimages played their part, and a very important one too, in the making
of England. They gave the ordinary man an opportunity to travel. A subject
race of stolid peasantry, who otherwise would never have left the confines
of their lord’s estate, were encouraged to go on a long journey and see
what the world outside was like. If any man wished to go on a pilgrimage
he needed only a scrip and staff consecrated by his parish priest. So
furnished no lord could detain him. By virtue of his pious and meritorious
vow he would find friends and assistance everywhere. The most desperate
characters would respect the sanctity of his profession; if a robber found
that his victim was a pilgrim he restored all that he had taken.[2] During
his absence, any monastery was prepared to take charge of his affairs, nor
could any legal proceedings be taken against him until his return.
Pilgrimages were the thin end of the wedge which was destined to shatter
the whole feudal system. They sowed the seeds of the great Revolt of the
peasants under Richard II. They instilled into the heart of the people
that roving restless spirit that made the Englishman the most successful
coloniser the world has ever known.

Under the very curfew the torch of liberty was smouldering. It is
significant that nearly all the places of popular pilgrimage established
between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries had a political basis. The
figure of the last king of the old English stock stood out bright against
the darkness of England, trodden under foot by the foreigner. Memories of
peace, prosperity, and independence gathered round his name, and while men
were clamouring for the good laws of Edward the Confessor, throngs of
pilgrims hastened to implore intercession of the Saint; to-day his tomb
in the Abbey of Westminster is the most hallowed spot for every true
Englishman. A century later the scene of the martyrdom at Canterbury was
attracting even vaster crowds, nearly one-tenth of the whole population of
the country resorting hither for worship in a single year. We may well
believe that they came to reverence St. Thomas of Canterbury, as not
merely a devout ascetic, but as the first Commoner of English birth who
dared to brave the absolute power of the King.

There were several quite unauthorised pilgrimages of political origin.
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who had headed the barons in their agitation
against Edward II and the royal favourites, became, after his execution, a
saint in popular estimation; pilgrimages were organised to Pontefract as
well as to a picture of the “Saint” set up in St. Paul’s Cathedral in
spite of royal protests. By a strange revulsion of sentiment the tomb of
Edward II, himself one of the least desirable of kings, became a place of
pilgrimage; and a special inn had to be built at Gloucester to accommodate
those who wished to make their prayers and vows on his behalf. The good
Simon de Montfort, although he died under excommunication, was accounted a
saint; and Latin hymns and versicles were composed for his office.[3]

Of all the devotional pilgrimages none could stand in comparison with Our
Lady of Walsingham. It may be regarded as illustrative of the English
character that this shrine grew into notoriety, without any startling
miracle, from simple and homely beginnings. A pious Norfolk lady caused a
little wooden house to be built in imitation of the Holy House at Nazareth
and invited her neighbours to join with her there in meditation on the
mystery of the Immaculate Conception. With time and a great concourse of
pilgrims came an elaboration of legend and a variety of foreign
accessories, maybe exaggerated in the half satirical description given by
Erasmus. But when the true unvarnished story of Walsingham comes to be
written it will show that to the very end a degree of sober good sense
controlled the authorities there.

In the fourteenth century pilgrimages had become the fashion for all
classes. With kings and nobles they were a ceremonial duty. The sick man
went to regain his health and discovered it, maybe, on the breezy heath or
sunny downs long before he reached the Shrine. The simple devout soul, no
doubt, found in the restful minster the religious consolation he came in
search of. More worldly people enjoyed an inexpensive holiday. Merchants
went on pilgrimages to avoid their creditors. During their absence an
uncomfortable “slump” in business could be tided over. Chaucer half
conveys a sly suggestion that this was the motive underlying the presence
of the merchant in the “Canterbury Tales”:

  “There wiste no wight that he was in debt.”

Workmen weary of a thankless task found a pretext in a pilgrimage for
going off on the quest of a new master. An idle apprentice had an excuse
ready at hand for exchanging the dull city workshop for a week in the
Kentish orchards. A villein might succeed in reaching some distant town
where he could live unbeknown by his lord for the necessary year and a day
which meant permanent freedom. Statutes were passed over and over again to
restrain these abuses, but they were all evaded. The pilgrimage was an
institution hallowed from time immemorial, and none could gainsay the
right of every Christian man to take in hand his scrip and staff.

Imagine the motley procession almost ceaseless from morn till eve on the
Roman roads to the North through St. Albans, Eastward to Canterbury, or
Westward by Reading or Salisbury towards the favoured resort. Ladies of
rank in their horse-litters or rich tapestried carriages; peasants in
their springless two-wheeled dog-carts. Then a company of middle-class
people on horseback, all of them, men and women alike, well able to manage
their steeds. The very poor travelled on foot, and many better class trod
barefoot some portion of the Walsingham green way as a penitential
exercise. Lame, halt and blind negotiated their journey as best they
could. The pilgrim roads were fairly good; Watling Street ran almost
straight as an arrow as it was set out by the Roman engineers from
Deptford to Canterbury. All roads were said to lead to Walsingham, and
that through Ware and Newmarket, if not Roman, was nearly as direct.
Pilgrims on horseback from the West of England might utilize the so-called
“Pilgrims’ Way” to Canterbury, but by the fourteenth century the Kentish
portion had been broken up into a series of feeders to the Watling Street.
A similar bridle path ran from Newmarket towards Fakenham on the
Walsingham route.

When night fell these wayfarers would tax all available resources for
their shelter and sustenance. At the manor-house they were very unwelcome;
the lord had good cause to detest the idea of poor people going on
pilgrimage. The monastery could only receive a small proportion. Many
needed nursing as well as rest. And so a special form of
lodging-house--half inn, half charitable institution had to be devised.
The great Hospice at Jerusalem, which provided for fully a thousand
visitors at one time, was regarded as the model, but the idea is much
older. At Cebrero, in Northern Spain, there is a _Hospicio Real_, founded
in 836 by King Alphonso II, for pilgrims crossing the pass of Piedrafita
on the way from Segovia to St. James of Compostella. St. John’s Hospital
at Winchester claims to have been originally founded by St. Brinstan about
the year 930 for sick and poor pilgrims to St. Swithin.

For the Canterbury pilgrims there were many of these hospices. That at
Rochester, a private benefaction, we have already mentioned. The _George
Inn_, which still can show a fine Early English crypt, may also be
described as a pilgrims’ inn, though, perhaps, like that at St. Albans,
for the better class of people. There was a pilgrims’ resting house at
Bapchild, near Sittingbourne. Ospringe, near Faversham, takes its name not
from the spring which used to babble so pleasantly along the water lane,
but from the great hospice founded by Henry III. By a similar “derangement
of epitaphs” the hospice at Colnbrook has developed into the _Ostrich
Inn_. A considerable portion of the hospice at Ospringe survives to this
day in half-timbered buildings around the _Crown Inn_, and the chapel is
said to form the foundations of the _Ship Inn_ on the opposite side of the
road. It is more likely that this inn stands on the site of the separate
establishment provided for lepers. This hospice must have been of great
extent and provided accommodation for rich and poor alike. A master and
three regular brethren of the Order of the Holy Cross were to superintend
the work of hospitality and nursing. Owing to an outbreak of the plague in
the reign of Edward IV the brethren forsook the place in a panic and died
without taking care to choose their successors. The property escheated to
the Crown; hence the presence of the _Crown Inn_.

Canterbury abounded in hospices of various kinds, some specially reserved
for the poorer clergy. The fourteenth century façade and vaulted lower
storey of one of these still survives in the High Street. Originally
established by St. Thomas himself, it was rebuilt by Archbishop Stratford,
whose regulations provided that every pilgrim in health should have one
night’s lodging to the cost of fourpence (about five shillings in modern
money); the weak and infirm were to be preferred to the hale, and women
upwards of forty years were to attend to the bedding and administer
medicaments to the sick.

At Maidstone, there was a large hospice for pilgrims travelling to
Canterbury by Malling and Charing. St. Peter’s Church was formerly the
Chapel of this institution. At Reading the hospice was founded by Abbot
Hugh about 1180 and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. A sisterhood of
eight widows ministered to the wants of the pilgrims. We may mention also
the hospitals of St. Giles and St. Ethelbert at Hereford, both of very
ancient date. At the latter alms were distributed to a hundred poor people
daily.

Under the sign of the _George Inn_ we can often detect the successor to a
pilgrims’ hostel dedicated to St. George of the Dragon. The _George_, at
Glastonbury, the very finest existing example of an inn built in stone
during the Perpendicular period, was founded by Abbot Selwood in 1489, and
provided board and lodging to pilgrims free of charge for two days. The
_George_ at St. Albans, is more suggestive in its present state of a cosy
well-ordered coaching inn of the Georgian period, with nothing visible of
antiquity except its panelled staircase and beautiful old furniture. But
its records carry us back to 1401, and in 1448 it received a licence from
the Abbot for the celebration of low mass in the private chapel on account
of the many noble and worthy personages who resorted thither when on
pilgrimage to the Cathedral. At another George and Dragon hospice at
Wymondham, the Saint has succumbed to the reptile, and the _Green Dragon_
presides alone on the signboard.

Pilgrims to shrines beyond sea were not forgotten. At Dover the _Maison
Dieu_ was built and endowed by Hubert de Burgh, the great Justiciary, in
the reign of Edward III; and on crossing to Calais the adventurer found
another _Maison Dieu_, the first of a long chain of resting-places on the
way to Rome, the Three Kings at Cologne, or Rocamadour, in Guyenne,
according as his fancy or devotion might direct him.



CHAPTER IV

THE RISE OF THE TOWNS


Every high road leads sooner or later to a market town, and in that town
the tourist may be sure of finding a _White Hart Inn_. The _White Hart_ is
the commonest of signs all through England. Half-timbered and rambling,
with the marks of decrepit old age and long service writ large all over
it, this inn is in evidence near the market-place, often in a street of
the same name, to remind us of its importance in the days gone by.
Sometimes, as at Guildford and Brentwood, the old building lies hidden
behind a more modern front. When the builder has laid violent hands on a
_White Hart_, title-deeds or other authentic records of its antiquity are
in nearly every case available.

[Illustration: The White Hart, Brentwood]

A vague tradition attempts to explain these inns as royal posting-houses,
it being supposed that stations to supply fresh horses for the royal
journeys were first established during the last years of Edward III.
Undoubtedly the _White Hart_ inns all date from the beginning of the
reign of Richard II. After the scandals and misrule during the long dotage
of his father, the nation centred all their hopes in the young king who
showed promise of becoming a wise and able ruler. The policy of the good
Parliament would once more govern in the council, and it seemed a happy
omen when he took for his badge the white stag with a collar of gold
around his neck. This legend, portrayed on so many signboards, was a
delight of the mediæval romantic writers: the white hart was never to be
taken alive except by one who had conquered the whole world. Its oldest
form appears in the pages of Aristotle who relates how Diomedes
consecrated a white stag to Diana; and how it lived for a thousand years
before it was killed by Agathocles, King of Sicily. Pliny gives Alexander
the Great, and later writers Julius Cæsar and Charlemagne, as the Emperors
who captured the young white stag and released it after decorating it with
the golden band. On the Dorchester road, near Stowminster, there used to
be an inn with this kingly stag painted for a sign, and underneath the
following lines translated from a mediæval quatrain by some not very
conscientious scholar who has imported Cæsar, stag and all, into the West
of England:

  “When Julius Cæsar landed here,
   I was then a little deer,
   When Julius Cæsar reigned King,
   Round my neck he put this ring;
   Whoever shall me overtake,
   Spare my life for Cæsar’s sake!”

But when we begin to inquire into the actual title-deeds of the _White
Hart_ inns, we find ourselves in the midst of movements of far deeper
import than the outburst of national loyalty on the signboards. The story
of a great mediæval fiscal policy; the birth of home manufactures; the
struggle of the towns for municipal rights. The sign of the White Hart
marks a turning-point in the great social and industrial revolution which
was to bring to the great body of Englishmen prosperity and freedom.

No country could compare with England, during the Middle Ages, for the
production of wool. From the twelfth century onwards wool was almost the
only export and the principal source of wealth for landowners and farmers.
So important a trade was bound to receive the attention of Chancellors in
search of a new tax. Accordingly, early in the thirteenth century, a
system was devised by which no wool could possibly be exported until it
had contributed its quota to the royal treasury. Wool, as well as some
other raw materials, such as skins, lead and tin, had to be brought for
sale to an appointed place called the Staple, where the trade was under
the superintendence of a special corporation whose seal must appear on
every bale. The Staple was at first fixed at Bruges, the chief seaport of
the Flemish cloth manufacturer, but during the reign of Edward III, it was
moved to England, and then finally, in 1390, established at Calais.
Thither every dealer was obliged to carry his bales by certain approved
routes, through Boston, London, Sandwich, Winchester, or Southampton, and
these towns became subsidiary centres of the Staple. _Staple Inn_, in
Holborn, was an inn for merchants of the Staple before it became a resort
for the lawyers. In the end the merchants of the Staple grew into a ring
of powerful monopolists, who controlled prices, regulated times of sale,
and even secured the carrying trade in their own hands. The sale of
English sheep abroad, either for breeding or for shearing, was also
forbidden under very heavy penalties.

All these vexatious formalities in getting his wool to Calais, and the
rapacity of the merchants of the Staple, disgusted the English farmer. As
early as 1258 Simon de Montfort urged that England ought to be a centre
of manufacture, and not merely a source of raw material. Edward III,
while with one hand consolidating the power of the monopolists who
controlled the Staple, on the other hand stimulated the obvious remedy. He
invited Flemish weavers to settle in this country. By the end of his reign
the whirring sound of the looms might be heard all through Norfolk, Essex
and Kent. From a country of farmers which exported wool, England was soon
to be transformed into a country of manufacturers who exported cloth. The
sale of wool at the Staple dwindled away, while Yorkshire tweeds and
Cotswold broadcloths were winning the preference for price and quality in
the most distant markets.

The commercial prosperity of England is generally said to have been built
up on the industries arising out of the woolpack. But in the fourteenth
century capital was already being found for the development of many other
enterprises. In 1307 there were complaints about London fog, owing to the
use of coal as fuel. In the Sussex weald and the Forest of Dean the iron
trade was so busy that it was necessary to import a considerable portion
of the ore from Sweden and Spain. The excellence of English guns, it is
said, contributed largely to the victories of Henry V in France.[4] The
lost art of brickmaking was reintroduced by the Flemings. Cheaper labour
and materials induced copper-founders from Dinant and bell-founders from
Liege to transfer their trades hither. Instead of bringing beer from
Prussia the shipmasters found it more profitable to export Maidstone ales
into Flanders.

Meanwhile, the towns from a position of semi-servitude had been step by
step attaining to liberty, wealth and the political franchise. London led
the way owing to the presence of merchants from Rouen and Caen who settled
there immediately after the Conquest and took the position of a governing
class prepared to treat with the King for privileges. The steps by which
the various boroughs secured their rights of self-government, free speech
in free meeting and equal justice would need several volumes to describe.
They were won by steady solid perseverance, by customs allowed to grow up
unnoticed during the quarrels between the barons and the royal favourites,
by a direct bargain with the lord of the manor, or in a few instances by
less ingenuous methods. Most of the towns, like London, were situated on
the royal demesne. With these the work was comparatively easy. Secure of
his ultimate supremacy, and indifferent to small sources of power, the
king was generally willing to surrender local claims for a fixed payment
in money. A Corporation was a better security for the payment of dues than
petty officers given to peculation. Accordingly, from the reign of Henry
I, charters were granted giving a progressive degree of liberty, although
until the reign of John the King retained the nomination of the portreeve
or mayor.

The feudal baron was not so willing to part with his supremacy. But the
nobility were rapidly becoming poorer; and the issue of the battle was
ultimately with the strong. Either the powerful merchants’ guild,
returning unwearied to the fray after each rebuff, by its steady dogged
agitation ended in forcing a compromise, or else the traders deserted the
place and let it dwindle away into a poverty-stricken village. Sometimes
an ancient charter was alleged to exist and prescriptive rights claimed
before a commission in the King’s Courts; and the longest purse could fee
the most persistent counsel.

Much less hopeful were the prospects of citizens whose lord was a
religious house. The monasteries were rich, well acquainted with forms of
law, and as trustees not justified in parting with their hereditary
assets. Hitherto promoters of progress, the monks now began, to be
regarded as a stumbling-block on the path towards freedom. And from this
arose the smouldering hatred of the monasteries that underlies so much of
the literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. During the great
revolt of the villeins the monasteries and bishops’ palaces on the route
of the insurgents were all burnt and sacked by the mob. At St. Albans,
Cirencester, and even in the cinque port of Romney, the struggles of the
townsfolk to burst their thraldom were endless and always futile. It was
organised force in conflict with organised authority, and the result was
that the latter prevailed. At Coventry the motto of the two contending
bodies was _divide et impera_. The Merchant Guild became the Guild of the
Holy Trinity and shared with the Corpus Christi Guild (of which the Prior
and other Churchmen were members) all authority in the town, nominating
the Mayor and all the important officials.

Simon de Montfort, “the father of English liberty,” was the first to
recognise the growing importance of the commercial middle classes by
summoning two burgesses from each of the town boroughs to his Parliament
in 1264, and their presence was treated as a matter of course in
subsequent Parliaments, though they formed a comparatively insignificant
factor. In the reign of Edward III, when the Knights of the Shire
associated with them to form the future House of Commons, their growing
wealth and ability to make terms with the King as a condition of granting
supplies was recognised and a marked increase of parliamentary activity
commenced. Their “petitions” became on the assent of the Crown Statutes of
the Realm, and henceforward the Lower House was to initiate nearly all
legislation.

And now we can return to our _White Hart_ inns. They were the first inns
to be built by the corporations, or at least under their licence. Secure
in the possession of their charter, proud of their ever-increasing
commerce, hopeful of the future privileges and reforms that were likely to
be obtained by their burgesses in Parliament, the towns began to provide
new inns of a superior kind for the merchants who came regularly to their
markets. They were held direct from the King, and to the reigning king
alone they looked for any future marks of favour. Hence these inns almost
invariably bear the badge of the reigning king. When Richard II was
deposed the White Hart gave place to the White Swan of Henry IV, and this
latter is nearly as common on the signboards. Barons and earls might
dispute and make war on one another as to who was the sovereign _de jure_;
the concern of the towns was with the king _de facto_. The Commons
regarded each change of dynasty from Plantagenet to red rose and from red
rose to white rose with the complacency of the Vicar of Bray. The old
aristocracy ruined themselves and died out amid these political disputes;
meanwhile the burghers grew rich and their posterity formed the nucleus of
a new aristocracy of English race and of more patriotic instincts.

[Illustration: The Swan, Felstead]

The signboards tell the same tale all through the fifteenth century. The
Antelope of Henry VI, the White Lion of Edward IV, and the White Boar of
Richard III each take their turn. The changes they represented meant
little more than incidental gossip to the burghers. All the real life of
the citizens was in their home and trade, in their craft guilds, in
treaties with neighbouring towns, or in the little controversies of the
town council.

We know only a few incidental details about the internal comforts of the
White Hart inns. The majority of the guests slept in large rooms, on
couches or wooden bedsteads. Only a few very important grandees were
accorded a private _camera_. The bed was a long sack-like mattress stuffed
with straw or hay; great folk would carry with them their own bed on
their journeys. Most people lay in their ordinary clothes on the bed,
though counterpanes and linen were just coming into use. Carpets were
chiefly employed like tapestry for hanging on the walls and diminishing
the continual draughts. The women had their special apartments; the
serving men slept on the rushes of the hall, while the grooms were left to
make the best of stable and barn. Meals were taken at fixed hours, at a
long movable table on trestles in the hall, guests and servants sitting
down together, but placed according to rank. Some of the dishes would not
commend themselves to fastidious moderns, but at least, there was never
any lack of good wholesome fare; loaves, joints and meat pasties all on a
gargantuan scale. Wines of British as well as foreign extraction competed
with the nut brown ale. Essex was in those days the vineyard of England.

How much we have fallen off in the capacity of our stomachs from the good
old times of open-air life and daily exercise on horseback may be judged
from the following allowance of provisions granted to Lady Lucy, one of
the maids of honour to Queen Katherine of Aragon:

    “Breakfast--A chine of beef, a loaf, a gallon of ale.

    Luncheon--Bread and a gallon of ale.

    Dinner--A piece of boiled beef, a slice of roast meat, a gallon of
    ale.

    Supper--Porridge, mutton, a loaf, and a gallon of ale.”

When the Warden of Merton College travelled with two of his fellows and
four servants from Oxford to Durham in 1331, the season being winter,
their average bill was 2d. for beds for the whole party, or for the
servants alone, one halfpenny; at the town inns of fifty years later the
price of a bed was one penny, and the increased comfort warranted the
higher charge.[5] The private rooms, instead of being numbered, received
names according to the subject portrayed on the tapestry hangings. This
custom continued in old-fashioned inns up to quite recent times, and has
served as the basis of stage humour of a sort:

    SCENE. A Country Inn.

    _Timothy._ What rooms have you disengaged, Waiter?

    _Waiter._ Why sir, there’s the Moon: but I forget--there’s a man in
    that.

    _Timothy._ Eh! A man in the Moon! Oh then we’ll not go there.

    _Waiter._ There’s the Waterloo Subscription, Sir; that’s full--there’s
    the Pope’s Head; that’s empty, etc., etc.[6]

In the minute books of the Grey Coat Hospital, a very valuable religious
educational charity, we come across a rather startling entry. On Epiphany,
1698, “After prayers and sermon in church, the children and their parents
dined in Hell.” Heaven and Hell were two public dining rooms adjoining the
old Palace of Westminster, and so named either from the hangings or other
pictorial decoration.



CHAPTER V

THE CRAFT GUILDS AND TRADERS’ INNS


Of the writing of books about the mediæval guilds there seems to be no
end, and each new contribution serves to mystify rather than to throw
light on the difficulties of the subject. From the earliest times, it was
an inherent tendency of the Teutonic races to combine and form guilds.
There were guilds for the building of bridges, for the relief of poor
pilgrims, and for almost every imaginable purpose, ranging from the
organisation of a municipality to the Saxon “frith-gild,” which undertook
the punishment of thieves and the exacting of compensation for homicides.
As to the craft guilds of the Middle Ages, some are content to regard them
as trade unions, others as similar to our modern clubs, and a third class
of writers assert that they were purely religious. As a matter of fact,
they were capable of becoming all three in turn.

No doubt the original motive of these guilds was to create a monopoly and
artificial control over the particular trade, and also to obtain that
security which only an organised association is able to give against
tyranny and corruption. They comprised all ranks, wage-earners,
manufacturers, and merchants. The weakness of such a body was that there
was no community of interests as regards the internal economy of the
industry. That is to say, the merchants and masters would not be induced
to improve the position of their apprentices or to raise the wages of
journeymen. The only common ground would lie in attempts to assert the
interests of the trade at large against the whole body of consumers, or
against competing trades.

On the other hand, the Corporation itself was originally a guild which had
succeeded in obtaining a charter and thus becoming the administrative
authority. It would regard with anxiety the creation of other bodies which
might follow in its footsteps and become very dangerous rivals. Charters,
indeed, were in the twelfth century being bought from the King, which
rendered fraternities dependent for their existence on the royal will
alone. The weavers of London lived in a quarter by themselves, with their
own courts and raised their own taxes, suffering no intrusion from the
City officials. Only by an expensive process of boycotting was this abuse
brought to an end. When once the municipalities perceived their danger,
they proceeded ruthlessly to reduce the craft guilds into subjection and
to limit the purposes for which they were permitted to combine.

And this brings us to the second period in the history of the craft
guilds, when we find each trade forming itself into an association to
provide a burial fund for its deceased members, masses for the repose of
their souls, and to organise a solemn procession and miracle play on the
annual festival. Behind the religious association the union for trade
purposes remained. When the secular powers of the craft guild were more
clearly defined, in the fifteenth century, under the style of a company,
the observance of the mystery was often allowed to fall into desuetude.
The Companies became mere trustees of the endowments belonging to the
religious guilds and treated with equanimity the abolition of these trusts
at the Reformation.

In the third period the craft guilds as Companies became a useful adjunct
of the Corporation, protecting the community from overcharges, settling
disputes in the trade, and generally forming courts of reference on
technical matters. The City companies of to-day, though not under any
compulsion to do so, still occasionally render service of a kindred
nature. The work of the Plumbers’ Company, a few years ago, in arranging
for the examination and registration of plumbers will be called to mind;
the Apothecaries’ Company has also done good service. Out of the guilds of
the Holy Trinity at Hull and at Deptford has grown the Corporation of
Trinity House, that wealthy philanthropic body that builds lighthouses,
licenses pilots, and ministers in various ways to the welfare of our
merchant shipping.

At Headcorn and Cranbrook, in the Weald of Kent, and again at Lavenham and
Sudbury, in Suffolk, may be seen many beautiful examples of the halls of
the craft guilds now derelict and converted to less noble purposes. Part
of the _King’s Head_ at Aylesbury is supposed by experts to have been
anciently a Guildhall. We shall refer more fully to this building in
another chapter.

We have seen that the guilds afforded very few advantages to the
wage-earners, and according to the natural tendency of all such bodies,
they ended in becoming aristocratic and exclusive. They were for a long
period masters of the labour of the country, preventing any attempts at
strikes, and securing that all disputes as to the rate of pay should be
settled by the arbitration of their own warden. Vainly the serving-men of
the Saddlers strove to form a guild of their own on the harmless pattern
of a religious body with their own festival at Our Lady of
Stratford-le-Bow. It was complained of them that in thirteen years their
hire had more than doubled the ordinary rate, and their meetings were
ruthlessly repressed. The May-Day festival of the Journeymen Shearers in
Shrewsbury was suppressed for a similar reason.[7]

Only one refuge remained for the oppressed workmen--the inn, which for
centuries was to be the place where he could hold these more or less
illegal meetings with his comrades. In the houses of call for artisans,
the workers discussed their grievances, hatched conspiracies and strikes,
or devised less drastic methods for the betterment of their condition. At
Kidderminster there is an inn called _The Holy Blaise_, after the patron
of weavers; another, _Bishop Blaise_, exists in the heart of the City of
London in New Inn Yard. The _Boar’s Head_, by the way, was a commonly
accepted emblem of St. Blaise. Many _St. Crispins_ or _Jolly Crispins_
survive to represent the shoemaker. St. Hugh was another patron of the
shoe trade, and there was once a _St. Hugh’s Bones_ in Clare Market.
_Simon the Tanner_ is an old house in Long Lane, Bermondsey. A later age
absurdly re-named inns frequented by the labouring class as _The Weavers’
Arms_, _Carpenters’ Arms_, _Bricklayers’ Arms_, etc., etc. These inns, a
common occurrence in every large town, are often of old foundation, and
incidentally commemorate the fact that in the public-house it was that the
wage-earners first learnt the art of combination for their own betterment.
Here the earliest trade unions found a welcome and a home, with which many
of their successors are still content. The club room at the inn was the
cradle of the Friendly Societies. The Freemasons have given name to a
whole series of taverns. All the numerous and generally well managed
benefit Societies on the pattern of the Foresters, Hearts of Oak and
Oddfellows owe their very existence to the public-house.

[Illustration: Bricklayers’ Arms, Caxton]

It was anciently the custom for workmen to be paid at the nearest inn, and
out of this, during the bad period at the beginning of the nineteenth
century grew a very serious abuse. Those to whom was entrusted the duty of
engaging and paying various forms of precarious and unskilled labour, such
as coal whippers and porters, found it profitable to become owners of
public-houses where the unfortunate men were kept waiting for a job which
was generally awarded to the individual whose score was the largest. When
the men returned from their work they were expected to spend a
considerable portion of their earnings for the good of the house. The
Truck Act of 1843 put an end to this heartless scandal.

[Illustration: Golden Fleece, South Weald]

The _Woolpack_ and _Fleece_ were, of course, the signs of inns frequented
by the merchants who came to buy wool. At Guildford all the alehouses were
at one time required to exhibit a Woolpack as a token of the leading
commodity in the town. There is a very fine old _Golden Fleece Inn_ at
South Weald in Essex, broad-fronted and roomy, Jacobean in style, but
fallen sadly from its old estate since the coach traffic ceased on the
Ipswich road.

The _Three Kings_ was anciently the sign of the mercers, because in the
Middle Ages linen thread materials brought from Cologne had the highest
reputation, and were probably stamped either with the figures of the three
wise men, or with three crowns. But the _Three Crowns_ are asserted to be
more commonly emblematic of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and
Ireland. The _Golden Ball_ was another mercers’ sign, from the arms of
Constantinople, which was formerly the centre of the silk trade. The
_Elephant and Castle_ was the crest of the Cutlers’ Company. However, the
_Elephant and Castle_, at the corner of Newington Causeway, has a quite
different origin. The skeleton of an elephant was discovered while digging
a gravel-pit near this spot in 1714. Elephants in mediæval heraldry were
invariably represented as carrying a solidly-built castle, a traveller’s
exaggeration of the Indian palanquin. The _Lion and Castle_ indicated a
dealer in Spanish wines, because sherry casks were stamped with the brand
of the Spanish arms.

Foresters resorted for company to the _Green Man_, and the survival of
many old taverns of that name reminds us that there were numerous forests
in the neighbourhood of London. The Northwood, or Norwood, extended from
near the _Green Man_ at Dulwich to Croydon, where there is another _Green
Man Inn_. The _Green Man_ at Leytonstone stands on the verge of Epping
Forest. Wherever a painted sign exists on one of these houses it generally
represents either an archer or a forester clad in Lincoln green.

The _Two Brewers_ does not denote that the ale of the two rival tradesmen
is on sale, but the manner in which beer was anciently carried about
before the invention of brewers’ drays. Two porters are shown bearing the
precious barrel slung between them on a pole.

Last of all to be mentioned among the inns which remind us of disappearing
occupations are those found usually where the ancient green ways join the
main roads to London. The drover and his herd of tired wild-eyed cattle is
no longer a feature on the roadside. It is cheaper and more convenient to
send oxen to market by cattle-train. But the long green lanes, touching
here and there a market town, extend through the Eastern and Midland
counties, right up to the North of England. Lonely and deserted,
practicable only by the pedestrian or the rider of a sure-footed pony,
scarcely ever used except by the county officials, whose duty it is to
maintain the right of way, they remain as an ideal hunting ground for the
naturalist. When the explorer, tired and hungry after many miles of rough
journeying, finds shelter at the _Drover’s Call_, _Butcher’s Arms_, or
_Jolly Drovers_, the purpose of these old half-forgotten by-roads is made
clear to him, and he can meditate during his hour of rest on the changes
which fifty years have made in the methods of transport.



CHAPTER VI

CHURCH INNS AND CHURCH ALES


We had occasion a year or two ago to visit a small country town where
several public-houses were scheduled previous to being closed under the
Licensing Act. It was impossible to defend the continuance of the
licences. The high road which ran through the lower part of the town was
well provided with inns for the passing traveller. These condemned inns,
nine or ten in number, were all in a side street leading to the church at
the top of the hill. We inquired of a local antiquary, an enthusiast on
the subject of inns, whether he could account for the existence of so many
in a situation apparently ill-adapted for a prosperous trade, and received
a surprising explanation.

[Illustration: Porch, Chalk Church, Kent]

“They loved God in those days,” muttered the old gentleman, with a sigh of
regret, “and loving God each man loved his brother also. In the church
they learnt the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven; the public-house gave
them the opportunity of realising the Kingdom of Heaven in the practice
of brotherly love. It is a survival of the early Christian Agape.
‘Exercise hospitality one to another,’ says the Apostle--for this is the
full meaning of προσλαμβάνεσθαι in Romans xv, 7. In the good old days men
did not go into a public-house to drown their wits in gin, but to buy each
other good wholesome ale in Christian fellowship. And as every man went to
church--of course, there had to be many alehouses!”

We have since discovered a less picturesque though much more plausible
origin of these superfluous inns which will be given in another chapter.
Nevertheless, allowing for our good friend’s flamboyant enthusiasm, there
is an element of truth in his contention. Wherever there is a church we
may be certain of finding an old inn hard by. In pre-reformation times the
Church, while not exactly countenancing the alehouse, looked not sourly on
drinking customs when indulged in with discretion. The training of the
character in self-restraint is a great ideal of the Catholic Church. The
alternation of festival and fast is one integral feature of the process.
Fasting alone is insufficient. Continual abstinence results in
self-mutilation; the appetite is merely distorted thereby. It is a great
secret of the higher life that where there is no temptation there can be
no victory. And so the Church enjoined on our forefathers the duty of
feasting heartily and fasting conscientiously each in their due season. A
great doctor of the Church gave the maxim that to be fasting after the
fifth hour of a holy-day was to be _ipso facto_ excommunicate.

Before inns became common the parish clergy were expected to entertain
travellers. It must be borne in mind that until the thirteenth century
many of the secular priests were married men. The Rolls of Parliament for
1379 contain a complaint that owing to the non-residence of the clergy
this duty of affording shelter to benighted wayfarers was in danger of
lapsing. In our own boyhood it was still the traditional custom for
travellers in remote districts to put up at the rectory, and this may help
to account for the unnecessary size of rectories in sparsely populated
country parishes. But obviously the unmarried priest of the fifteenth
century found it more convenient to all parties when an inn was built on
his glebe, where it would be more or less under his control, and he could
be answerable for its good conduct.

Again, parishioners from outlying districts were expected on high
festivals to attend morning and afternoon services at their mother church.
In licensing a chapel at Smallhythe in 1509 “on account of the badness of
the roads and the dangers which the inhabitants underwent from the waters
being out,” Archbishop Warham was careful to stipulate that the people of
Smallhythe were not thereby released from their duties at the parish
church of Tenterden. Some accommodation was necessary where those coming
from a distance could rest and have their midday meal during the interval
between High Mass and Vespers. At Lurgashall, in Sussex, there is a very
ancient closed porch of wood extending the whole length of the South aisle
which local tradition declares to have been built for this express
purpose. Perhaps also the large parvise to the west of the tower at
Boxley, like in form to the antechapels in the colleges at Oxford and
Cambridge, was a shelter of this kind. Mr. Baring-Gould thinks that the
deep porches in the French cathedrals were intended to shelter the
peasants during the midday hours. But by the fifteenth century the
increase in the standard of comfort would demand an inn, rather than
these exposed and draughty places for shelter.

Church Ales were a special institution of the mediæval Church to the
intent that no parishioner by reason of poverty should lack the means of
feasting to his heart’s content on the greater holy-days; all were to
assemble and make merry together. “In every parish,” says Aubrey, in the
introduction to his “Natural History of Wiltshire,” “there was a Church
House, to which belonged spits, crocks, and other utensils for dressing
provisions. Here the housekeepers met. The young people were there, too,
and had dancing, bowling, shooting at butts, etc., the ancients sitting
gravely by and looking on. All things were civil and without scandal.”
Whitsuntide was the great feast of early summer before haymaking began,
and so these feasts were popularly known as Whitsun-Ales, but Easter and
Christmas were not forgotten. From an old Breton legend we learn
incidentally that it was customary for the three masses of Christmas to be
said consecutively by anticipation, after which all adjourned for a
gorgeous feast in the neighbouring Church House. Sometimes two parishes
united for the celebration of the Church Ale. In Dodsworth’s manuscripts
there is an old indenture preserved, an agreement between the parishioners
of Elveston and Okebrook, in Derbyshire, to brew four ales, and every ale
of one quarter of malt between Easter and the feast of St. John the
Baptist; every inhabitant of the two parishes to attend the several ales.
Charitable folks bequeathed funds for the maintenance of these parish
banquets on particular festivals.

[Illustration: Church House, Penshurst]

Just above the western door of Chalk Church, near Gravesend, squats carved
in stone a grotesque goblin figure, cross-legged and grinning with a most
jovial expression as he grasps a flagon of ale. Charles Dickens in his
latter years never omitted to stop and have greeting with this comical old
monster. Now, this sculpture commemorates a _give ale_, bequeathed by
William May, in 1512, that there should be “every year for his soull, an
obit, and to make in bread six bushells of wheat, and in drink ten
bushells of malt, and in cheese twenty pence, to give to poor people for
the health of his soull.”

After the Reformation the Church Ales were continued, chiefly in order
that the Churchwardens might by the sale of the liquor secure funds for
the repair of the fabric. “There were no rates for the poor in my
grandfather’s days,” says Aubrey. “But for Kingston St. Michael (no small
parish) the Church Ale of Whitsuntide did the business.” Abuses rapidly
crept in. Stubbs, the author of the “Anatomie of Abuses,” complains in
1583, that the ales were kept up for six weeks on end, or even longer. In
the West of England instances are related of the South aisle of the church
being filled with beer casks and men busy supplying all comers. The sale
of liquor went on during morning service greatly to the disturbance of the
officiating minister. Bishops’ injunctions, ecclesiastical canons, and
orders of the justices fulminated vainly against the degenerated Church
Ales. Not till the time of the Commonwealth were they finally abolished.

[Illustration: The Punch Bowl, High Easter]

Bishop Hobhouse traces the growth of the Church House into a regular
tavern at Tintinhull in Somersetshire. First, there was a small bakehouse
for the making of the _pain bénit_. In time this had developed into a
bakery supplying the whole neighbourhood with bread. From brewing ale for
Church festivals, the brewhouse undertook the regular sale of malt liquor;
and it was a very profitable business for the churchwardens; so that
municipal trading was not quite unknown in the olden time.

The only examples of an undoubted Church House that we have come across
are the “Church Loft” at West Wycombe, in Bucks, and the exquisite
half-timbered building over the Lych Gate at Penshurst. The _Castle Inn_
at Hurst, in Berkshire, is traditionally known as the Church House. The
bowling-green behind this inn is one of the best in England and of great
antiquity. There are many inns and other old houses near churchyards which
probably began their career as Church Houses; the half-timbered “Priest
house” at Langdon, in Essex, and the long plastered and tiled tudor
structure over the porch at Felstead, opposite the _Swan Inn_, and
formerly used as the Grammar School, may both be of this category. The
_Punch Bowl_ at High Easter is actually in the churchyard; its interior
framing--a marvellous piece of joinery--and the richly-moulded beams show
it to have been built at the same time as part of the church, perhaps by
the same craftsmen. By the way, Mr. James Stokes, the landlord for many
years of the _Punch Bowl_, a worthy, good-hearted man, was in size the
nearest rival of Daniel Lambert we ever met. His huge proportions were not
by any means due to indolent habits. He was a thatcher by trade, and
noted in the district for his activity and skill.

[Illustration: The Punch Bowl, High Easter]

In the absence of documents it is not easy to discriminate between the
Church Inn and the Church House. Old inns near the church bearing
ecclesiastical names may be of either origin, or may have served for both.
The _Bell_ is very common all over England. It is always found near the
church, and the sign is of the highest antiquity. Chaucer tells us that
the _Tabard_ in Southwark was “juste by the Belle.” The _Bell_ at Finedon,
in Northamptonshire, puts in a claim to be one of the very oldest in the
country, and the old _Bell Tavern_ which formerly stood in King Street,
Westminster, is mentioned in the expenses of Sir John Howard, Jockey of
Norfolk, in 1466. At the _Bell_, in Warwick Lane, died the good Archbishop
Leighton in 1684. “He often used to say that if he were to choose a place
to die in, it should be an inn; it looks like a pilgrim’s going home, to
whom this world was all as an inn, and who was weary of the noise and
confusion in it.... And he obtained what he desired.”[8]

Not unusual in this situation is a _Lamb Inn_. The _Lamb_ at Eastbourne
has a small but well-proportioned crypt, vaulted and groined. There is a
_Lamb and Flag_ near the old parish church at Brighton, Sudbury, and at
Swindon; and a _Lamb and Anchor_ in Bristol. These owe their origin to a
carving of the _Agnus Dei_, but may sometimes point to a house of the
Knights Templars, for the _Agnus Dei_ appeared on their coat of arms. The
_Bleeding Heart_ is an emblem of the five sorrowful mysteries of the
Rosary, and the _Heart_, generally found as the _Golden Heart_, is in
honour of the Blessed Virgin. The _Anchor_ is suggestive of a church inn,
but we have not been able to trace a house bearing this sign to any very
remote period. At Hartfield, there is an _Anchor Inn_ close to the church,
evidently ancient, and having a delightful old-fashioned garden. It was
formerly occupied by a church institution where the poor were fed and
housed in return for such labour as their age and skill would permit,
founded by the Rev. Richard Randes, a rector of the parish some two
hundred and fifty years ago. The house contains evidence of having existed
long before this date.

At least one church has, by the vicissitudes of time, become an inn; the
_George Hotel_ at Huntingdon, itself very old and picturesque, enshrines
in its cellars and lower walls all that is left of St. George’s Church.
The stones of St. Benedict’s Church in the same town were used two
centuries ago in building the _Barley Mow Inn_ at Hartford, and some
figures and panelling may be seen in the tap-room of the _Queen’s Head_,
close by where this church stood. At the _Old Red House_, about four miles
north of Newmarket on the road to Brandon, the bar-counter is formed out
of the rood-screen turned out of the neighbouring church at a
“Restoration” about five-and-twenty years ago.

In a corner of Romford churchyard a fifteenth-century chantry-house,
founded by Avery Comburgh, Squire of the Body to Henry VI, and
Under-Treasurer to Henry VII, became after the Reformation the _Cock and
Bell Inn_. Through the kindness of Messrs. Ind, Coope & Co., the present
Bishop of Colchester was enabled to regain possession for religious uses,
and after three hundred and sixty years of alienation this building, still
possessing its original oak ceiling beams and panelling has been converted
into a Church House for the parish, and a hall for meetings, corresponding
in style, has now been added from the design of Sir Charles Nicholson,
Bart.

Among the pleasantest memories of a pilgrimage to Walsingham, is that of a
Sunday spent at a little Suffolk village, where after service Pastor and
flock alike adjourned to our inn for a half an hour’s gossip. The old
custom would be difficult to restore nowadays, but much of the social
influence of the Church over the labouring classes was lost when rectors
left off occupying, at least once a week, the chair in the village inn
parlour. For it is not without good reason that church and inn stand so
frequently side by side. Each ministers alike to the natural and common
needs of man, and each in its own way has its lesson to teach us in the
gospel of the larger life. They have stood together through the ages as a
protest against the wayward theories of man-made puritanism; for they
belong to the Commandment which is “exceeding broad.”



CHAPTER VII

COACHING INNS


A hundred years ago, everybody who had occasion for inland travelling was
perforce obliged to use the road; that is, unless he preferred a canal
boat or barge, and navigable waters lay in the desired direction. Rich
people travelled in their private carriage with four horses which were
changed every few miles at the posting-houses. Those without means had to
content themselves with carriers’ carts or the stage broad-wheeled
waggons; a few resorted to dog-carts, then a tiny four-wheeled contrivance
actually drawn by dogs. But the great majority of passengers were conveyed
in the coaches or mails. In 1825 it was calculated that no less than
10,000 persons were daily on the road in mail-coaches, so closely timed
that if a driver were to be ten minutes late in arriving at an important
centre many corresponding services would be seriously upset. The average
speed, allowing for changing horses, was about ten miles an hour on the
fast day coaches.

All this vast organisation had grown up since the time of Queen Elizabeth,
when the coach was introduced from France by Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel.
Only in her old age would this queen leave her horse for the effeminate
conveyance, and the Judges continued to ride on horseback to Westminster
Hall, almost until the Restoration. In the year 1672, when there were only
six stage-coaches in daily running, a Mr. John Cresset, of the
Charterhouse, published a pamphlet urging their suppression on the ground
that “These stage-coaches make gentlemen come to London on every small
occasion, which otherwise they would not do, but upon urgent necessity;
nay the convenience of the passage makes their wives often come up, who
rather than come such long journeys on horseback would stay at home. Then,
when they come to town, they must presently be in the mode, get fine
clothes, go to plays and treats, and by these means get such a habit of
idleness and love of pleasure, as to make them uneasy ever after.”

The coaches started on their journey each morning and evening from great
inn yards surrounded by tiers of galleries one above the other. Sometimes,
as at the _Bull and Mouth_ in St. Martins le Grand, or the _Oxford Arms_
in Warwick Lane, there were four stories of these galleries. It is not
easy to trace the various steps by which the plan of the coaching inn was
evolved from the “corrall” of migrating tribes, who when resting for the
night arranged their waggons in a hollow square, with their cattle in the
centre. But the idea underlying the coaching inn was a species of fortress
entered only by the great archway with massive doors strongly barred at
closing time. The bedchambers of the guests all opened into the galleries
overlooking the yard. When an alarm was raised each owner of waggons or
cattle in the yard could at once hurry out to the defence of his property.
Later on, the traveller would be bound to hear the note of the guard’s
horn, warning him that the coach in which he had booked a place was
preparing to start.

“Heads, heads,--take care of your heads!” is the cry as the Pickwick Club
pass on the top of the Rochester coach through the low inn archway.
“Terrible place--dangerous work--other day--five children--mother--tall
lady eating sandwiches--forgot the arch--crash--knock--children look
round--mother’s head off--sandwich in her hand--no mouth to put it
in--head of a family off--shocking, shocking!” And it was no invention of
the ingenious Mr. Jingle--for the accident actually happened at the _White
Hart_ at St. Albans.

[Illustration: Yard of White Hart, St. Albans]

Just as the coaching system had reached its highest perfection, the
railway came and the coach vanished--more suddenly than the horse vehicle
has disappeared from the Strand with the advent of the taxi-cab and motor
omnibus. The landlord of the coaching inn and the posting-house found his
occupation gone almost as abruptly as the guard and driver. Gone are all
the coaching inns of London, although their names survive as receiving
offices of the railway carriers. In country towns on the main roads, like
Sittingbourne or Godalming, huge forlorn wrecks present their face to the
roads converted into shops or tenements. Some of them continue to maintain
a precarious existence in country villages like Buckden in
Huntingdonshire, scarcely visited by the traveller of to-day, whereas
seventy years ago their vast size was often insufficient to accommodate
the daily arrivals of guests. They linger on in the hope that motorists
may bring them a new popularity. Others, tired of empty rooms and
dwindling local trade have retired into private life. At Caxton, on the
old North Road, the _George_, a very large inn of a lonely country
village, is now a comfortable private residence, and the old gateway arch
would hardly be recognized in the French window opening on the front
garden.

[Illustration: Coach Gallery at the Bull, Long Melford]

Gone are the old galleried yards. We do not know of one complete instance,
except the little disused _Coach and Horses_ in York Street, Westminster,
which is neither large nor beautiful. Fragments of galleries exist at the
old _George Inn_ in the Borough, where they are in several stories; at
the _George_ at Huntingdon; the _Golden Lion_ at St. Ives, and the _New
Inn_ at Gloucester; but the finest remaining gallery is at the _Bull_ at
Dartford. The _Bull_ at Long Melford owns a glazed gallery, running along
the side of the yard next the inn, said to have served to facilitate the
loading of luggage on the coaches.

But in provincial towns the coaching inn is not quite left desolate; it is
the place of departure and arrival for the carrier’s van. One need only
search any local directory to discover the enormous number of these
conveyances and the various inns from which they start. The rustic still
prefers this method of travel to any other, and if the tourist is not in a
hurry the box seat of a carrier’s cart is the ideal place from which to
study rural affairs. The carrier knows everybody in the district and he is
often a dry kind of philosopher, if not an archæologist or naturalist. Win
his heart and he will divulge unexpected secrets, besides securing for you
the most comfortable night’s lodging. His recommendation will prove a
passport admitting into every grade of village society.

When the world proves unkind, when the loneliness and disappointments of
life press hard upon you--if Fortune has dealt you a humiliating
rebuff--then, if you have a few shillings left, one night spent in an old
wayside coaching inn will brace your system up and give you heart to face
your troubles once more with a new courage. The world you have left may
have despised you. Within the walls of this old hostelry, landlord,
waiter, chambermaid, exist only to obey your lightest whim. You are the
luminary round which this little world revolves--the “gentleman in the
parlour.” As Washington Irving so well puts it: “To a homeless man there
is a momentary feeling of independence as he stretches himself before an
inn fire; the armchair is his throne, the poker is his sceptre, and the
little parlour his undisputed empire.” If you condescend to join the
company in the tap-room, still further honour awaits you. Your
pronouncements on things temporal or things eternal have acquired an
acknowledged value; your opinion is invited and universally deferred to;
and the oldest inhabitant will for your special benefit invent a new
series of reminiscences. In short, you will feel the truth of all that Dr.
Johnson has laid down on the subject: “At a tavern there is a general
freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome; and the more noise you
make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the
welcomer you are. No servants will attend you with the alacrity which
waiters do, who are incited by the prospects of an immediate reward in
proportion as they please. No, sir; there is nothing which has been
contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good
tavern or inn.”

[Illustration: The White Hart, Witham]

A few minutes’ gossip with the landlord after closing time, and you sink
to rest in the depth of a feather bed, which removes the last vestiges of
the care that has beset you. Early in the morning you rise refreshed and
vigorous, ready after a walk round the old-fashioned garden to devour
unlimited supplies of ham and eggs washed down by coffee. It is only in
real old coaching inns that they possess the secret of brewing old English
coffee--a beverage that owes nothing to the poisonous intoxicating berry
of Arabia, discovered by the brothers Shirley. We believe it is
manufactured by roasting and grinding some species of scarlet runner. As a
breakfast drink it is unequalled. This coffee is the last of a series of
exhilarating experiences before you go your way rejoicing and awake to all
the graces of life. The bill will not be exorbitant--that is, if you have
been reasonable in your demands--and the landlord contemplates with
pleasure your return on a future occasion.

We love the coaching inn, not only as the home of practical good cheer,
but for the romantic memories that cling to it. Scarcely one of them but
has its story of the eloping couple, whose chaise slipped out at the back
gate just as the heroine’s father alighted to make inquiries at the front
door; the details vary, but the lovers always escape in the nick of time
with the connivance of Boniface. In a corner of the gallery of one old inn
near Huntingdon, a narrow door is shown, fitting so exactly that when
closed no person except those in the secret could trace it. Here some Dick
Turpin or Claude Duval might lie in wait and peep over the balcony to
choose his prey among the passengers stopping for the night; or find safe
hiding from the Bow Street runners. Romance easily gathered around the
journey by coach. Whereas a railway acquaintance ends when the passengers
each go his or her own way from the arrival platform, the companions on
the coach-top met again in the coffee-room, and might renew their intimacy
at breakfast next morning. Between London and York there was ample time
and opportunity for any suitable young couple to arrive at a good
understanding with one another.

None of the coaching inns had a more remarkable history than the _Castle
Inn_ at Marlborough. Built by Francis, Lord Seymour, in the reign of
Charles II from the reputed designs of Webb, Inigo Jones’ pupil and
son-in-law, this sumptuous manor-house was the favourite residence of the
Seymour family. During its occupation by Frances, Countess of Hertford,
and afterwards Duchess of Somerset, in the early years of the eighteenth
century, many of the leading wits and scholars of the age were invited
here. Dr. Watts, the hymn-writer, James Thomson, author of “The Seasons,”
and Elizabeth Rowe are all said to have composed their lays in the
grottoes and extravagantly-arranged gardens. When the house passed by
marriage into the hands of the Northumberland family it was neglected as a
superfluous residence, and at last was let on lease as an inn to a Mr.
Cotterell. It was a broad-fronted stately mansion, the most splendid and
best appointed hotel in England during that age. Before the grand portico
no less than forty coaches changed horses every day. The service was
magnificent. A dinner of twenty-two covers could, if necessary, be served
up on silver.

The great Lord Chatham once stayed several weeks at the _Castle Inn_. He
was detained there on his way back to London from Bath, by a relapse of
gout. His own suite demanded twenty rooms, and the exigencies of State
during that time strained the resources of the hotel to the utmost. He
required the whole staff, waiters, ostlers and boot-boys to wear his
livery. Mr. Stanley Weyman has seized on just this critical moment, and
has woven round the _Castle Inn_ the sweetest and most enthralling of his
many novels.

Other romances of real life are associated with it. Driving through
Marlborough and halting at the _Castle Inn_, a certain Duke of Chandos
heard screams in the inn-yard. Hastening to the spot he found a beautiful
girl being brutally beaten by an ostler. When the Duke interfered, the
ostler declared that the young woman was his wife, and therefore that he
had an indefeasible right to beat her. However, he was willing to
compromise the matter by selling his wife for £20. The Duke paid the
money, took the young woman away, and, so we are told, afterwards made her
Duchess of Chandos.

[Illustration: Old Coaching Inns, St Albans]

Water has continued to flow under the bridge that spans the Kennett for
many generations since Sir George Soane sat on the parapet and wooed
Julia, the college porter’s daughter. The old Bath Road knows no more the
coaches, curricles, wigs and hoops, holstered saddles or the beaux and
fine ladies, and gentleman’s gentlemen whose environment they were. We
drift half-unconsciously into the language of the novelist who has
recalled these old days so vividly. The _Castle Inn_ is now part of
Marlborough College, founded in 1843. The _Rose Inn_ at Wokingham has been
refronted since “With pluvial patter for refrain,” Gay, Pope, Swift and
Arbuthnot spent a rainy afternoon there vying their verses in praise of
Molly Moy, the fair daughter of their host, who in spite of her beauty
lived to be an old maid of seventy. Yet the wayfarer will discover that
innkeeper’s daughters are as pretty as they were in the days gone by.
Romance is not the exclusive property of any one generation. Where youth
and beauty are to be found there lurks the romance; and it belongs as much
to the inns of our own time as when highwaymen, patches, puffs, wigs, and
knee breeches were the prevailing fashion.

[Illustration: Botolph’s Bridge Inn, Romney Marsh]



CHAPTER VIII

WAYSIDE INNS AND ALEHOUSES


We have shown in previous chapters how the old English inn grew up almost
always under some local authority--either the lord of the manor, the
monastery, or the parish--and its conduct was regulated by legal
enactments from the reign of Henry II onwards. The alehouse, on the
contrary, might conduct its business as its owner pleased, subject only to
the natural laws of supply and demand. Every householder was free to brew
either for his own consumption or for sale, the one condition being that
his liquor was wholesome and good. Among the crimes that incurred the
punishment of the ducking-stool in the city of Chester during Saxon times
was that of brewing bad beer.

In every manor there was held annually the assize of bread and ale, the
two staple articles of diet which it was essential should be pure and of
good quality. “Bread, the staff of life, and beer life itself,” not
unknown as a motto on the signboards, is a saying that has come down to
us from a prehistoric period. And modern science, as it seems, is inclined
to endorse the maxim. Good old-fashioned wheaten and rye bread, made from
the whole flour from which only the coarser brans had been sifted, built
up the stamina of our forefathers. Their chief drink was ale brewed from
barley or oaten malt. The small proportion of alcohol served as a vehicle
for the organic phosphates necessary for the sustenance of strong nerves,
while the ferment of the malt helped to digest the starch granules in the
bread. Bread and ale are still the main diet of our labouring classes--but
alas! stale, finely-sifted flour contains a very poor allowance of gluten,
and chemically produced saccharine is destitute of phosphates. O, that our
modern legislators would revive the assize of bread and ale!

In _Arnold’s Chronicle_, published by Pynson about 1521, the following
receipt for making beer is given: “Ten quarters of malt, two quarters of
wheat, two quarters of oats and eleven poundes of hoppys, to make eleven
barrels of single beer.” Hops only came into use about the reign of Henry
VII; previously ivy berries, heath or spice had been used as a flavouring
for ale. Leonard Maskall, of Plumpton, a writer on gardening in the reign
of Henry VIII, has the credit of acclimatising the hop-plant. He is also
said to have first introduced carp in the moat at Plumpton Place. Hence
the rhyme of which many versions are given:

  “Hops, heresy, carp and beer,
   Came into England all in one year.”

However, hops are mentioned as an adulterant in ale in a statute of Henry
VI; and about the same time mention of beer occurs in the accounts of Syon
Nunnery, which were kept in English.

Every inn, large or small, once possessed its own brewhouse, and although
wholesale breweries were established about the time of the Flemish
immigration, at the end of the fourteenth century, home-brewed ale was
commonly on draught fifty or sixty years ago. The _White Horse_ at Pleshy,
that village that boasts of knowing neither a teetotaller nor a drunkard,
relied entirely on its home-brewed liquors up to within the last ten
years, and the apparatus wherein they were prepared remains for the
student of old methods to examine.

Home-brewed ale is still more commonly to be met with in some districts
than many suppose. Even in the neighbourhood of the greatest brewery town
in the world, Burton-on-Trent, there are small inns which rely upon their
own brewing for the best of their ale. There is a very old brewhouse at
Derby, at the _Nottingham Castle Inn_, into which any passer-by may step
from the street and see, twice a week, a huge cauldron containing about a
hundred and twenty gallons, bubbling and foaming in the corner. This
brewhouse dates from the sixteenth century, and is one of the oldest
buildings in the town; the _Dolphin_, whose licence dates from 1530, being
another and perhaps older inn in the same neighbourhood.

[Illustration: White Horse, Pleshy]

A legion of brewers are named in Domesday Book, mostly women, and manorial
assizes show a preponderance of the fairer sex. The price of bread and ale
was fixed by statute in Henry III’s reign, and it was the business of the
Ale-tester to see that the measures were of standard capacity and stamped
with some recognized official mark. Alehouses abounded everywhere, known
by a long pole surmounted by a tuft of foliage. An Act of 1375 regulates
the length of the ale-stake at not more than seven feet over the public
way. The poles had a tendency to become over long to the deterioration of
the timber structures from which they depended, as well as danger to
travellers passing on horseback. At Guildford, and some other cloth
centres, the alehouses were required to exhibit a woolpack for a sign.

These alehouses were of all sorts and sizes. There was the humble
hedgeside cottage, looking like a mere sentry-box, illustrated in the
fourteenth century MS.[9], where a hermit is being entertained by an
alewife with a very large beer jug; or the little alehouse on the Watling
Street, somewhere near Rainham, where Chaucer’s Pardoner dismounted to

  “Drynke and byten on a cake”

before commencing his tale; or the establishment by Leatherhead Bridge,
where Elinour Rummyng drove such a thriving trade, immortalised by the
poet Skelton. Some of these larger alehouses were a cause of anxiety to
well-disposed people, and no doubt the Church Houses were partly
instituted with the idea of inducing the faithful to spend their time in a
less disreputable manner. All kinds of bad characters resorted to the
alehouse. Piers Plowman gives us a lurid picture of what went on there.
How the glutton going to be shriven met the alewife and was induced to
spend the afternoon and evening with

  “Tymme the tynkere and tweyne of his prentis
   Hikke the hakeneyman and Hughe the nedeler,
   Clarice of cokkeslane, and the clerke of the Cherche
   Dawe the dykere and a doziene other;
   Sir Piers of Pridie and Peronelle of Flanders,
   A ribidour, a ratonere, a rakyer of Chepe,
   A ropere, a redynkyng, and Rose the disheres,
   Gofrey of Garlekehithe, and Gryfin the Walshe,
   And upholderes an hepe.”

They drink deeply, joke coarsely and quarrels ensue.

Finally the glutton is hopelessly intoxicated.

  “He myghte neither steppe ne stande, er his staffe hadde;
   And thanne gan he go, liche a glewmannes biche,
   Somme tyme aside, and somme tyme arrere,
   As who-so leyth lynes for to lache foules.”

His wife and maid carry him home between them and he lies helpless through
Saturday and Sunday, waking in bitter repentance at having missed his
duties.[10]

From Skelton we learn how women came to pledge their wedding rings and
husbands’ clothes

  “Because the ale is good.”

Hence the necessity for an Act in Henry VII’s reign which empowered
justices to close alehouses notorious for bad conduct, and later, the
first Licensing Act of 1552, requiring every alehouse-keeper to obtain the
licence of two justices, and regulating the manner in which the business
is to be carried on. By an Act of 1627, a fine of twenty-one shillings, or
in default a whipping, was inflicted on the keepers of unlicensed
alehouses, and on a second conviction imprisonment for one month. But none
of these measures were enforced throughout the country, and they were
easily evaded. Anyone was still free to sell ale in booths at fair time,
and many trades had by custom the privilege to sell ale as a part of their
business: for example, barbers and blacksmiths, whose customers required
entertainment while waiting their turn. Two centuries after the first
Licensing Act, the nation was still unconvinced on the subject of free
trade in liquor. In a report on an inquiry made by Justices of the Peace
for the County of Middlesex in 1736, it was shown that within the limits
of Westminster, Holborn, The Tower and Finsbury (exclusive of London and
Southwark), there were no less than 2,105 unlicensed houses. Spirits were
retailed by above eighty other trades, particularly chandlers, weavers,
tobacconists, shoemakers, carpenters, barbers, tailors, dyers, etc.

Barbers’ shops were once resorted to by idlers, in order to pass away
their time, and a system of forfeits prevailed, nominally to enforce
order, but in practice to promote the sale of drink. They are referred to
in “Measure for Measure.”

                  “Laws for all faults,
  But laws so countenanced that the strong statutes
  Stand like the forfeits in a barber’s shop
  As much in mock as mark.”

Dr. Kenrick professes to have copied the following list of forfeits in a
shop near Northallerton:

  “RULES FOR SEEMLY BEHAVIOUR

  First come, first served--then come not late;
  And when arrived keep your state;
  For he who from these rules shall swerve
  Must pay the forfeits--so observe.

  1.

  Who enters here with boots and spurs,
  Must keep his nook; for if he stirs,
  And gives with armed heel a kick,
  A pint he pays for every prick.

  2.

  Who rudely takes another’s turn,
  A forfeit mug may manners learn.

  3.

  Who reverentless shall swear or curse,
  Must lug seven farthings from his purse.

  4.

  Who checks the barber in his tale,
  Must pay for each a pot of ale.

  5.

  Who will or cannot miss his hat
  While trimming, pays a pint for that.

  6.

  And he who can or will not pay,
  Shall hence be sent half trimm’d away,
  For will he, nill he, if in fault,
  He forfeit must in meal or malt.
  But mark who is already in drink,
  The cannikin must never clink.”

[Illustration: The Chequers, Doddington]

As the restrictions on travelling gradually disappeared many of the
alehouses developed into inns. As early as 1349, a statute of Edward III,
requiring those who entertained travellers to be content with moderate
prices, recognizes the class of _Herbergers_[11] or keepers of unlicensed
hostelries. And these inns as a class are deserving of close study from
the difficult problem of determining their exact age. Some of them may
have existed as alehouses during the Saxon period; some may even stand on
the sites of Roman _tabernae_.

The oldest of all inn signs of this class is the _Chequers_, found
throughout England, but especially in the neighbourhood of old Roman
roads. This sign is found on many houses at Pompeii, and was throughout
Europe the common indication of a money-changer’s office. Hence our Court
of the Exchequer, which concerned itself with the national funds and their
collection. The chess-board was the most primitive form of ready reckoner;
and as the innkeeper was the person best qualified to act as money-changer
he readily undertook the business. Small tradesmen still send their
assistants to the public-house when they require to change a sovereign.
Many heraldic shields are painted with checks, and Brand, in his “Popular
Antiquities,” suggested that the Chequers represent the coat of arms of
the Earls of Warrenne, on the supposition that a member of this family in
the reign of Edward IV possessed the exclusive right of granting licences.
It is absolutely certain that no such licence was ever authorised. Nothing
of the kind was ever attempted before Sir Giles Mompesson in the reign of
James I; but, of course, some “chequers” may possibly have a heraldic
origin.

[Illustration: The Chequers, Redbourne]

Chaucer’s pilgrims put up at the _Chequers on the Hope_ (_i.e._, on the
Hoop) at Canterbury, and part of this inn still remains near the
Cathedral gate. There was also a _Chequers Inn_ at St. Albans, but it has
now ceased to exist. Either may have stood on the sites of Roman inns; but
with these as with the thatched _Chequers_ on the Watling Street, near
Redbourne, or the _Chequers_ at Loose or Doddington, speculation is vain.
Like the needy knife-grinder, whose breeches were so woefully torn during
his drinking bout at an inn bearing the same name: “Story? God bless you,
I have none to tell, sir!” is the universal answer to all our inquiries
for any historical particulars beyond a century or two back.

Wayside inns needed no licence and were usually carried on by a hosteller
who combined the occupation with that of farmer or tradesman of some kind.
Where any old leases exist they are described merely as tenements or
farms. Thus the _Dorset Arms_ at Withyham, a very picturesque old shingled
and barge-boarded inn, appears as “Somers’ Farm.” Only by accident do we
find the name of one of the tenants, William Pigott, on a list of Sussex
tavern-keepers in the year 1636.

[Illustration: The Three Horseshoes near Papworth Everard]

When the sign of the _Three Horseshoes_ occurs at the end of a rough
difficult stretch of road during which a horse would often lose a shoe,
it is probable that the inn grew up side by side with a blacksmith’s
business, even when the smithy no longer exists. In a very lonely and
exposed situation on the Ermine Street, where the road to St. Ives crosses
near Papworth Everard, there is a thatched inn bearing this sign and also
known as _Kisby’s Hut_. At Lickfold, about six miles from Haslemere,
almost under the shadow of Black Down, the highest hill in Sussex, there
is a cosy half-timbered _Three Horseshoes_, which has come down to our
time practically unaltered since the day of its erection in 1642, and it
is well worth examination. The roads around it are liable to be flooded,
and it is a likely place for waggoners to pull up for repairs. But when
disentangling the riddles of local history, we must not be led astray
with obvious explanations. Many old coats of arms contain the three
horseshoes. Indeed there is one inn on a manor once belonging to the
Shelleys, where possibly the forgotten shield of the older Kentish branch
of the family--the three escallops--has been repainted as three
horseshoes.

[Illustration: The Horseshoes, Lickfold]

The _Plough_ and _Harrow_ are both primitive emblems, and agricultural
signs such as these point to a very high antiquity. The _Plough_ at
Kingsbury is supposed to be more than eight hundred years old.

At the Upper Dicker in Sussex there is an inn called the _Plough_, which
is worth visiting by motorists on their way to the _Star_ at Alfriston,
especially as it will enable them to get a glimpse of Michelham Priory on
an island in the Cuckmere close by. The tap-room of this inn has a
generously-planned fireplace with an ancient fireback and dogs. Up till
quite recently it was the custom to keep a fire constantly burning, and in
the hottest weather the warmth of this fire was far from unwelcome owing
to the thickness of the outer walls. This tradition of the ever-burning
fire is a curious one, found in remote districts, and pointing to a time
when the public-house was necessarily resorted to for purposes of this
kind. At the _Chequers Inn_, Slapestones, near Osmotherly, in Yorkshire,
the hearth-fire has been burning uninterruptedly for at least a hundred
and thirty years.

Some inns now known as the _Ship_ were possibly at one time the “Sheep,”
as will be readily understood by those acquainted with rustic dialect.
_Shepherd and Crook_, _Load of Hay_, _Woodman_, are all to be found in
rural districts throughout England. The _Wheatsheaf_, whether it surmounts
a fine old coaching house in a market town, or a little wayside inn far
from the madding crowd, reminds us that we once could boast of the finest
wheat culture in the world; while the _Harvest Home_ pleasantly recalls
the merry-making which concluded the ingathering of the crops.

In some country villages there are a very large number of small inns close
together, perhaps three in a row. At Steeple Ashton, in Oxfordshire, there
are thirteen, and at East Ilsley, in Berkshire, nearly as many to a
population of about five hundred. The street seems almost to consist of
public-houses. But it would be quite wrong to suppose that the inhabitants
of these districts are unduly given to convivial habits. The reports of
the petty sessions show that drunkenness is exceedingly rare. In Steeple
Ashton division no charge of drunkenness has been heard for the past six
years. Such villages are decayed market towns, which become important at
the time of their periodical sheep fairs, when an army of graziers and
shepherds from the distant downs must find board and lodging. For a week
these inns are crowded with dealers in velveteen jackets, and grizzled
veterans clad in those blue smock coats and slouched hats, which were once
the universal dress of village labourers, with a shaggy bob-tail dog under
every chair. When fair-time is over they are quite deserted.



CHAPTER IX

HISTORIC SIGNS AND HISTORIC INNS


“The Greeks honoured their great men and successful commanders by erecting
statues to them,” remarks Jacob Larwood; “modern nations make the
portraits of their celebrities serve as signs for public-houses.”[12]
Certainly it would be possible to make the signboards on the inns serve as
texts for a complete history of England. There was once even a _Cæsar’s
Head_ in Great Palace Yard; and King Alfred and Canute are still
commemorated at Wantage and at Southampton; while the _King Edgar Inn_ at
Chester, represents on its sign that monarch being rowed in a wherry down
the river Dee by eight tributary kings. But for authentic and ancient
historical signs we must not refer to any earlier period than the reign of
Edward III, when inns began to be built in large numbers.

Many _Red Lion_ inns date from this reign. The red lion was the badge of
John of Gaunt, married to Constance, daughter of Don Pedro the Cruel,
King of Leon and Castille. On the other hand, John of Gaunt was the leader
of an unpopular and reactionary party, not likely to commend itself to the
innkeeper. The _Red Lion_ at Wingham, containing an old court-room and
some curious and beautifully carved oaken beams, ceilings and kings-posts,
is declared by experts to date from 1320. In this case it is more probable
that the red lion of Scotland, conquered by Edward I, is commemorated. A
landlord of the _Red Lion_ at Sittingbourne, in 1820, advertised his
establishment as “Remarkable for an entertainment made by Mr. John Norwood
for King Henry V, as he returned from the Battle of Agincourt, in France,
in the year 1415, the whole amounting to no more than nine shillings and
ninepence, wine being at that time only a penny a pint, and all other
things proportionately cheap.” The _Red Lion_ at Speldhurst, near
Tunbridge Wells, was discovered by the investigations of the late Mr.
Morris in the Inland Revenue to have possessed a licence in 1415.

[Illustration: Red Lion, Wingham]

Not all _Red Lion_ inns, however, date from the fourteenth century, for
this was also said to be the favourite badge of Cardinal Wolsey. At
Hampton-on-Thames the _Red Lion_ came into existence when that great
statesman was building Hampton Court Palace, and served to lodge the
better class of craftsmen engaged in the work. After being for centuries a
favourite meeting-place for the Royal Chase, it became a resort for
literary and dramatic folk, Dryden, Pope, Colley Cibber, Addison, Quinn,
and Kitty Clive being among the names associated with the house. In the
early part of the nineteenth century it was famous for its tulip feasts
which drew the tulip fanciers of the world to Hampton. In 1908 the
charming old Tudor structure was condemned to make way for a
street-widening scheme, and its last appearance was as the background to a
cinematograph picture, in which the house suddenly burst into flames,
frenzied occupants appeared at the windows, the heroes of the local fire
brigade flew to the rescue in the nick of time, and the fire was put out
in the most approved manner.

At Walsingham there is a large inn containing remains of
fourteenth-century work, called the _Black Lion_. Perhaps it takes its
name from the arms of Queen Philippa, of Hainault, who came hither with
her husband, Edward III, in 1361, to offer thanks for the happy conclusion
of the French Wars after the treaty of Bretigny. But both _Black Lion_ and
_Golden Lion_ may occasionally refer to the lions of Flanders and be marks
of the great immigration of Flemish weavers, ironfounders and brewers
during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

[Illustration: The Swan, Sutton Valence]

The _Swan_ was a favourite emblem with many of our kings, its first
mention being in the “Vow of the Swan,” when Edward I swore to take
vengeance on Scotland for the murder of Comyn. On the signboards it must
generally be ascribed to Henry IV. With Henry V and VI, the antelope is
the heraldic emblem; there is an old half-timbered _Antelope_ opposite the
Market House at Godalming, but it has recently been re-named the _White
Hart_. At Bristol and at Guildford are _White Lion_ inns, probably in
honour of Edward IV, whose arms have for supporters the _White Lion_ and
the _Black Bull_ of the house of Clarence.

Richard III reigned for too short a span to provide us with many _White
Boars_, and the few that existed hastened after his death to change their
names to that of the _Blue Boar_; a coat of blue paint was a cheap way of
converting the _White Boar_ of the fallen monarch into the _Blue Boar_ of
the Earl of Oxford, whose influence had contributed very largely to place
Henry Tudor on the throne. It was at the _Blue Boar_ at Leicester, that
Richard III slept just before the battle of Bosworth. A large richly
carved and gilded four-post bedstead was long preserved there and shown to
sightseers as the bed which he occupied. In the time of Elizabeth, a Mr.
Clarke, who kept the house, accidentally discovered a huge store of gold
coins of the reign of Richard III, underneath the planks of the bedstead.
He concealed his good fortune and thus from a poor condition he became
rich, but this ill-gotten wealth brought a curse in its train. A
maid-servant plotted with seven ruffians to rob the inn. Mrs. Clarke,
interrupting them at their work, was strangled by the maid-servant, who
was sentenced to be drawn and burnt, and her seven accomplices were hanged
in the Market Place at Leicester in 1613.

Another sign which disappeared utterly after the Battle of Bosworth, was
the _White Rose_; but the _Red Rose of Lancaster_ is not uncommon at the
present time in the County Palatine. The _Rose and Crown_, or _Rose and
Portcullis_, are the royal signs of Henry VII’s reign. But as the _Rose_
was in mediæval times regarded as an emblem of Our Lady, “Rosa Mystica,”
besides being a national emblem, the numerous _Rose_ inns must not be
attributed to this period without more positive historical evidence. Such
doubts are not likely to arise with regard to the _King’s Head_, a sign
nearly always adorned with a lifelike portrait of bluff King Harry. Many
of these houses are old monastic or collegiate property, whose lessees
were anxious by the change of sign, to acknowledge their acceptance of the
situation. It is not necessary to fare a long distance from town to find
an old _King’s Head_. In the village of Roehampton, a short mile from
Putney, the much married monarch may still be recognized on the battered,
faded signboard hanging over an obelisk-shaped post in front of the long
low inn, faced with shingles. Within the house are many quaint
low-ceilinged rooms and some curious relics.

[Illustration: King’s Head, Roehampton]

“Good Queen Bess,” either by portrait or bust, is associated with the
_Queen’s Head_, although in this case painter or modeller had to be
careful, as the Virgin Queen was exceedingly particular. If her effigy
proved to be uncomely, or not lifelike in her opinion, it was liable to
destruction and the perpetrator to suffer from her serious displeasure. A
proclamation of 1563, complains that “a grete number of her loving
subjects are much greved and to take grete offence with the errors and
deformities allredy committed by sondry persons in this behalf,” and
orders that means be taken to “prohibit the shewing and publication of
such as are apparently deformed, until they may be reformed which are
reformable.” Many of the _Queen’s Head_ inns may owe their origin to Sir
Walter Raleigh, who, in the thirtieth year of that reign obtained a patent
“to make licence for keeping of taverns and retailing of wines through
England.” The _Queen’s Head_ at Islington, a noble structure with an
elaborately-carved front and richly ornamented ceilings, has always been
connected traditionally with Sir Walter. Either in this house, or at the
_Old Pied Bull_ close by, occurred that amusing episode in the early
history of tobacco smoking. His servant, happening to be carrying in a
pail of water, observed to his horror clouds of smoke issuing from
Raleigh’s mouth, and imagining him to be on fire, with admirable presence
of mind poured the liquid in a deluge over the knight.[13] Both inns have
unfortunately been pulled down.

With James I, the arms of England and Scotland were united, and the
Unicorn appears for the first time. There are many _Unicorn_ inns in the
South of England; but the fabulous beast was also a sign used by
apothecaries, possibly because the horn (really that of the Narwhal) was
supposed to detect the presence of poison. Albertus Magnus mentions
(without endorsing) a belief current in his time that knife-handles made
of this substance would sweat, if poison was brought into the room. Fuller
was more credulous.

Charles I took refuge at the _Unicorn Inn_ at Weobly, in Herefordshire, on
September 5th, 1645, and this inn was afterwards called the _Crown_. It is
now a private house.

_Royal Oaks_ are everywhere in memory of the Boscobel Oak, and the
accession of Charles II. _Oliver Cromwell_, who had usurped the _Rose and
Crown_ in High Street, Knightsbridge, was dethroned once more to make room
for the reinstatement of the old sign. Coming nearer to our own time the
_Brunswick_ inns hail the succession of the house of Brunswick to the
English Crown. George III and George IV appear occasionally, but not so
frequently as William IV, our Sailor King. Queen Victoria’s popularity is
shown by the hundreds of _Victoria_, _Island Queen_, _Empress_ and
_Jubilee_ inns. Since the coronation of our late gracious sovereign, King
Edward VII, the duties of the justices have involved the closing of old
houses rather than the licensing of new ones. So that it is unlikely that
future generations will be able to realise the esteem and regard of his
subjects by any large number of _Edward VII_ inns. However, there will be
a considerable array of _Royal Alberts_ and _Prince of Wales_ signboards
to indicate this nation’s good feeling towards him when he was heir
apparent to the throne; the same remark will apply with regard to the
_Princess Alexandra_ and _Rose of Denmark_.

We have by no means exhausted the list of royal emblems. Some _Falcon_
inns may have taken their title from the badge of the Dukes of York; but
this was not invariably the case, when in districts where hawking was a
popular sport. The _Falcon Hotel_, near Clapham Junction, owes its name to
the river Falcon, once a considerable stream, but now only permitted to
flow through Battersea underground. The “Gun” was a Tudor sign, and the
_Gun Inn_ at Dorking, evidently dates from the reign of Edward VI. Edward
III quartered the French arms with the English; the practice was continued
by his successors and may have originated the _Fleur de Lis_ or _Flower de
Luce_ inns, where none of the local families bear this charge on their
shields. Mention of the _Fleur de Lis_ at Faversham is the one piece of
local colouring in the “Tragedy of Arden of Faversham,” formerly
attributed to Shakespeare. The _Three Frogs_, near Wokingham, is, perhaps,
a version of the arms of France; before the _entente cordiale_ it used to
be a theory widely current among patriotic Britons that the _fleur de lis_
really was intended for a heraldic representation of a frog.

Occasionally members of noble families have attained to such distinction
that their crests have been utilized for inn signs far beyond the limits
of their estates. The _Bear and Ragged Staff_ was the crest of the Earls
of Warwick; but it attained to notoriety after its adoption by the
rapacious Dudleys. Robert Dudley, afterwards Duke of Northumberland,
discarded the Green Lion, his own emblem, for the Bear and Ragged Staff
of his mother, the last heiress of the Warwick family. His fourth son,
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth,
inherited the manor at Cumnor, an old possession of Abingdon Abbey. The
_Bear and Ragged Staff_ at Cumnor, and its landlord at that period, Giles
Gosling, are described in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, “Kenilworth,” wherein
is also related the tragic fate of Dudley’s unhappy countess, Amy Robsart.
Old pictures show this inn down to the middle of the last century as
retaining its thatched roof and rustic primitive appearance. On the
signboard was the name of the licensee, with the addition, “late Giles
Gosling.”

The _Eagle and Child_ was the crest of the Earls of Derby, the _Maiden
Head_, of the Dukes of Buckingham, and the _White Bear_, that of the Earls
of Kent. A still more frequent sign in the home counties, the
_Grasshopper_, shows the popularity of the great Sir Thomas Gresham, to
whom we owe the Royal Exchange and many other great City institutions. Sir
Christopher Hatton and Sir Francis Walsingham, both Elizabethan statesmen
of eminence, gave us respectively the _Hind_ and the _Tiger’s Head_. For
the _Saracen’s Head_ there will be various claimants, according to
locality, so many crusaders having adopted this charge; but a few
innkeepers of Lollard sympathies possibly adopted the sign out of
compliment to Sir John Oldcastle. Bagford informs us that the _Pelican_
was the badge of Lord Cromwell, the despoiler of monasteries, who also
stole this emblem from the Church. At Speen, near Newbury, there was a
coaching inn on the Bath Road, which provoked an epigram:

  “The famous house at Speenhamland,
       That stands upon the hill,
   May well be called the Pelican,
       From its enormous bill.”

Coming to the ballad heroes, _Guy of Warwick_ and the _Dun Cow_ slain by
him are found all through the Midlands; but they cannot compare for
popularity with _Robin Hood_, who is usually accompanied by _Little John_
on the signboard. This is not a result of the modern taste for romantic
literature. The _Robin Hood_ is mentioned as a common alehouse sign by
Samuel Rowlands in “Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell,” published in
1610. All the world loved Robin Hood, and cherished his memory as a jolly
good-natured outlaw, manly and fearless, generous to the poor and careful
for the honour of womenkind. Robin Hood alone among the revolutionary
spirits of the Middle Ages has a place on the signboards, although Wat
Tyler is remembered in connection with the _Crown Inn_ at Dartford, and
_Jack Straw’s Castle_ was until lately a great resort for holiday-makers
on Hampstead Heath. _King James and the Tinker_ inn at Enfield, which
claims on doubtful authority to be over a thousand years old, is
associated with another ballad story of which there are many versions,
such as “King Henry and the Miller of Mansfield,” or “King John and the
Miller of Charlton.” In one of these tales our old friend, the Vicar of
Bray, was dining at the _Bear_ at Maidenhead with some friends. The party
had taxed all the resources of the hotel, and when a stranger tired and
hungry asked for refreshments, the vicar only admitted him to table very
grudgingly. At the end of the meal the stranger discovered that he had
left his purse behind him, and was roundly abused by the dignitary.
However, his curate pleaded that the merry quips and anecdotes of the
guest deserved consideration; he had proved himself a good fellow and had
earned his dinner. At this moment some members of the royal staff enter,
and the guest turns out to be nothing less than his Majesty James I. So
the churlish vicar undergoes much discomfiture, and the curate receives
the reward of high preferment.

Outbursts of patriotism are a feature on the signboards. Great victories
of the British forces by land and sea, and the great military and naval
heroes have all been commemorated in their turn, beginning with the
_Crispin and Crispinian_, which greeted the troops of Henry V, as they
returned along the old Watling Street, after Agincourt (which was fought
on the feast day of these twin saints).

  “Crispin Crispian shall never go by
   From this day to the ending of the world,
   But we in it shall be remembered.”
                                “Henry V,” IV, 3.

The _Bull and Mouth_ is said to be a corruption of Boulogne Mouth,
captured by Henry VIII. _Bull and Gate_ may possibly be a similar
vulgarism for Boulogne Gate. We might draw up a complete sequence of great
battles fought and fortresses taken during the last three centuries, but
those most frequently met with are _Gibraltar_, _Waterloo_, _Battle of the
Nile_, and _Trafalgar_. Admirals range from _Blake_ to _Napier_, generals
from _Marlborough_ to _Wolseley_. Not one of them is forgotten, though
_Wellington_, _Nelson_ and _Keppel_ can probably claim the largest number
of adherents. The _Marquis of Granby_, almost forgotten by the ordinary
reader of history, enjoyed a remarkable popularity in his own day, if we
are to judge by the number of portraits of this high-spirited and
courageous nobleman which hang outside public-houses. The original of Mr.
Tony Weller’s _Marquis of Granby_ is, we believe, the one at Epsom, “Quite
a model of a roadside public-house of the better class--just large enough
to be convenient, and small enough to be snug.” The sign portrayed “the
head and shoulders of a gentleman with an apoplectic countenance, in a red
coat with blue facings, and a touch of the same blue over his
three-cornered hat, for a sky. Over that again were a pair of flags;
beneath the last button of his coat were a couple of cannon; and the whole
formed an expressive and undoubted likeness of the Marquis of Granby of
glorious memory.”

But the heart of the nation was most deeply touched by the mingled triumph
and pathos at Trafalgar. _Lord Nelson_, _Victory_, and _Trafalgar_, greet
us on every high road that leads down to the sea, in the neighbourhood of
every harbour or dock, and beside the quays on every navigable river. And
it is surprising how many of these _Nelson_ inns are buildings three or
four centuries old, showing that the innkeeper was prepared to sacrifice
the sign under which he had hitherto done business and trusted to make a
new reputation under the ægis of the popular hero. We have discovered
several _Nelson_ inns of this type in Kent, though none which we recall
with more pleasure than the quaint many-gabled wooden structure with a
considerable list to starboard on the high path by the riverside at
Maidstone. Its ways are homely but hearty; the same family have remained
in possession for a period rapidly approaching the century; and almost
every article of furniture is old-fashioned and curious.

[Illustration: The Nelson, Maidstone]

The public-house has been described as “the forum of the English.” We may
sneer at pot-house politics, but it is only in the tavern, the haven of
free speech, that the burning questions of the day can be discussed with
freedom and sincerity. Washington Irving called the inn “the temple of
true liberty.” The _Punch Bowl_ was a Whig sign, because that party
preferred that beverage (possibly because it was favoured by Fox), whereas
the Tories remained faithful to old-fashioned drinks like claret and sack.
Most of the political idols obtaining a recognition over the tavern door
have been champions of reform, such as _John Wilkes_, _Sir Francis
Burdett_, _Palmerston_, and _Gladstone_. Traditionally the innkeeper was
strongly inclined to this side until the bitter attacks of a section of
the Liberal party on his business and very existence forced him in
self-protection into alliance with modern conservatism.

Little interesting fragments of local history are sometimes recorded on
the signboards. For instance, in High Street, South Norwood, there are
three public-houses in succession, the _Ship_, _Jolly Sailor_, and
_Albion_. But for these we might forget that the Croydon Canal once ran
through this district with a wharf for unloading barges. The _Sloop Inn_,
at Blackhouse, in Sussex, dates from the time when the river Ouse was
navigable as far as Lindfield. At the foot of Gipsy Hill is the _Gipsy
Queen_, named after Margaret Finch, who ruled over the encampment of
nomads in the forest and told fortunes to all comers. She died in 1760, at
the age of 109, and was buried in Beckenham Churchyard. Owing to her
constant habit of sitting with her chin resting on her knees, it was
necessary to employ a deep square box in place of an ordinary coffin for
her interment. Local worthies are not very frequent; but John Winchcombe,
the famous clothier of Newbury, “the most considerable clothier that
England ever had,” is honoured at intervals along the Bath Road as _Jack
of Newbury_. _General Wolfe_, unlike the prophets, finds special
remembrance in his own birthplace, Westerham; but Sir Walter Raleigh has
been quite overlooked at Mitcham, in spite of the fact that he was the
founder of its leading manufacture. The inhabitants of Islington are more
grateful to _Sir Hugh Middleton_ for providing them with the New River,
and more than one house bearing this sign exists in the district.

Foreign princes have occasionally attained the distinction of tavern
popularity, but none so frequently as _Frederick the Great_, whose
portrait over the inspiring words “The Glorious Protestant Hero,” was
painted on many a signboard after the battle of Rosbach, and the _King of
Prussia_ is still a familiar name. _Garibaldi_ is an instance of British
sympathy with the political aspirations of a foreign people. Many English
adventurers joined in the struggles of the young Italian nation, and its
principal hero became for the time a popular idol of the very first order.
The length to which a section of the community were led in their worship
of the red-shirted revolutionist is satirised happily in Mortimer Collins’
“Village Comedy,” wherein the local publican constantly cites “Old Garry”
as the proper person to appeal to in deciding delicate questions of
etiquette and morality.

The _Anchor_ at Liphook, on the old Portsmouth road, was a favourite
resort of Edward II, when hunting in Woolmer Forest, and Queen Anne when
visiting the Staghunt also put up here. To this inn came Samuel Pepys in
1668, “exceeding tremulous about highwaymen,” having missed his way to
Guildford while coming over Hindhead. Another inn which could many a tale
unfold, if walls had tongues as well as ears, is the _Bull_ at Coventry.
Half a dozen conspiracies have been hatched under its spreading gables.
Henry VII made it his headquarters before the Battle of Bosworth. Mary
Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for a short time; and it was the first
meeting-place for the devisers of Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of
Parliament.

A handsomely-panelled and pilastered room in the _Crown and Treaty_ at
Uxbridge, is shown to visitors as part of the hall in which took place
those six months of fruitless negotiations between King and Parliament in
1644, which ended in sealing the fate of the monarchy. We have not been
able to trace the particular establishment, but it is said that an
alehouse had its share in accomplishing the restoration of Charles II. It
appears that a messenger from the Parliament carrying letters to General
Monk at Edinburgh travelled in company with one of the General’s
sergeants, and happened to mention that he also held despatches for the
Governor of Edinburgh Castle. The circumstance aroused the suspicions of
his companion. The messenger was induced to stop at a wayside inn and
plied with brandy until he became so intoxicated that the papers could be
taken from his person without detection. Then the sergeant posted by
forced stages to his general with the packet, which was opened and
perused. It turned out to contain an order for Monk’s arrest. Policy and
resentment combined to direct the eyes of Monk to Charles Stuart, and in
due course the Restoration became an accomplished fact.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X

SPORTS AND PASTIMES


Many of the inn signs to be met with in the old provincial trading centres
recall the sports of our ancestors. Too often these were of a brutal and
barbarous character, suited only to an age which took its pleasures
strenuously and knew nothing of squeamishness and delicate nerves. Not
that we of the twentieth century are at heart one whit more humane. The
cockney who would faint at the bloodshed and slaughter in a bull-ring,
devours greedily in his Sunday newspaper all the details of a horrible
murder, or a railway accident.

Bull-running and bull-baiting was an attraction only rivalled by
bear-baiting. The corporations of some towns had a by-law forbidding
butchers to exhibit bull beef for sale, unless the animal had previously
been baited by dogs for the amusement of the populace. Over the entrance
of the ancient Butchers’ Hall at Hereford, still hangs the bull-ring that
was used on these occasions. It required the introduction of several
fruitless bills into the House of Commons between 1802 and 1835, before an
Act was finally passed to abolish the practice. _Dog and Bear_ is a very
common sign, usually Jacobean in its origin. _Bull and Ring_, _Dog and
Bull_, _Bull and Butcher_, are all somewhat rare.

[Illustration: Horse and Groom, near Waltham St. Lawrence]

Cock-fighting was a very favourite spectacle from the earliest times,
enjoyed heartily by gentle and serf, young and old, learned and simple.
Nature intended the game-cock to strive for mastery with his rival, and
with the weapons provided by nature the combat has a fearful interest for
the modern British boy, as each spring new conflicts recur in the
farmyard. But the art of the Elizabethan sportsman supplemented nature
with a sharp spur of steel. A graphic account of a cock-fight is given by
Count Kilmansegge in his “Diary of a Journey to England, 1761-2.” The
scene is to be identified by the little passage from Queen Anne’s Gate to
Birdcage Walk, still known as Cock-Pit Alley.

“On the 1st February, we went to see a cock-fight, which lasted the whole
of the week, where heavy bets, made by the Duke of Ancaster and others,
for more than 100 guineas were at stake. The fight takes place at the
Cock-Pit close to St. James’s Park, in the vicinity of Westminster. In the
middle of a circle and a gallery surrounded by benches, a slightly-raised
theatre is erected upon which the cocks fight; they are a small kind of
cock, to the legs of which a long spur, like a long needle is fixed, with
which they know how to inflict damage on their adversaries very cleverly
during the fight, but on which also they are frequently caught themselves,
so breaking their legs. One bird of each of the couples which we saw
fighting met with this misfortune, so that he was down in a moment, and
unable to raise or to help himself, consequently his adversary at once had
an enormous advantage. Notwithstanding this, he fought with his beak for
half an hour but the other bird had the best of it, and both were carried
off with bleeding heads. No one who has not seen such a sight can conceive
the uproar by which it is accompanied, as everybody at the same time
offers and accepts bets.... We were satisfied with seeing two fights,
although we might have remained to see still more for the half-crown which
we paid on entering.”

The cock-pit was not infrequently to be found in the inn yards. At Lincoln
the corporation pit was in the yard of the _Reindeer_, and here James I, a
great patron of this sport, was entertained. Pope, whilst living with his
father at Chiswick, took great delight in cock-fighting; all his
pocket-money was laid out in buying birds from various choice strains.
From this passion, we are told, his mother had the good sense and skill to
wean him.

Country towns generally contain an inn called the _Cock-fighters_,
sometimes with remains of the old pit _in situ_; and the sign of the _Cock
and Bell_ is said to be derived from the shrovetide cock-fights, when boys
matched their birds against each other, and to the lucky owner was awarded
a silver bell, which he wore in his hat for three Sundays following.
Originally, the Shrovetide cocks were mounted on stools and stones thrown
at them. Out of this has grown the modern “Cocoanut Shy.”

The sign of the _Bird in Hand_, often merely facetious, may when seen on
old inns, as at Widmore, near Bromley, have reference to hawking; so with
_Hawk and Buckle_ and _Falcon_ which, as a rule, we are content to treat
as heraldic emblems.

The _Kentish Bowman_ and the _Bow and Arrow_ remain to tell us of archery,
the favourite village pastime in rural England until quite recently. It is
a disputed point whether the resilient virtues of the wood, or their use
in Palm Sunday processions had most to answer for the hacked and mutilated
condition of the branches of old churchyard yews. _Speed the Plough_
recalls the rustic ploughing competitions.

_Dog and Gun_, _Dog and Duck_, _Dog and Badger_, _Fox and Hounds_, and
_Huntsman_, all betray the characteristic trait of John Bull, who
celebrates a fine frosty morning by “going out to kill something.” The
Hunt meet is usually in front of some leading inn; and hither when the run
is over choice blades repair to recount the doings of the day. These inns
abound in trophies of the chase, mounted antlers, stuffed foxes, otters,
or rare birds in glass cases; though few can vie with the collection of
specimens and prints at the _Swan_, Tarporley; where even the plate and
crockery bear witness to the pursuits of its patrons.

The _Blue Cap_ at Sandiway, in Cheshire, built in 1715, was so re-named in
1762 in memory of a very remarkable hound. So fast was his pace that a
weight had to be slung round his neck to prevent him outracing the rest of
the pack. On one side of the signboard his portrait appears. On the
reverse the following account of the race which first brought him into
notice:

“On Saturday, September 28th, 1762, Blue Cap and Wanton, ye property of
Mr. Smith-Barry, Master of ye Cheshire, in a match over ye Beacon course
at Newmarket, beat a couple of Mr. Meynell’s (ye Quorn), one of which was
Richmond. Sixty horses started with ye hounds. Mr. Smith-Barry’s huntsman,
Cooper, was ye first up, but ye mare that carried him was quite blind at
ye end. Only twelve got to ye end. Will Craine, who trained ye Cheshire
hounds, came in twelfth on Rib. Betting was 6 to 4 on Meynell’s.”

According to Daniel the race was run at fully thirty miles an hour.

From an inn named after an hound, we pass to another in the same county,
much more curious and antique in its thatched roof gables and old
furniture, which keeps green the memory of a splendid racehorse. The
_Smoker_ at Plumbley has nothing to do with tobacco. The portrait of the
old horse, together with the arms of Sir George Leicester, father of the
first Baron de Tabley, owner of the horse, have been painted on the
signboard by the daughter of Lady Leighton Warren, a member of this
family.

Inns are no longer betting centres, but their owners are keenly interested
in sport, and many jovial souls still notch calendars by racing events,
referring to some local episodes as having occurred “in the year when
Stickphast won the Derby.” Although the _Running Horse_ was a Hanoverian
emblem, most of the houses of this name within a few miles of Epsom must
owe their origin to the racing fraternity. The old _Running Horse_ at
Sandling, near Maidstone, so students of Dickens declare, suggested Mr.
Pickwick’s adventure with the eccentric steed, hired for the benefit of
Mr. Winkle.

Bowls is still almost as favourite a pastime at the old inns as it was in
the days of Sir Francis Drake. In East Anglia the greens are often of
remarkable size and beautifully kept. The finest bowling green in the
South of England is, we believe, that behind the _Queen’s Head_ at
Hawkhurst, an old-fashioned house to be visited for its sweet situation
and cosy arrangements--as well as for the almost unique collection of old
furniture gathered together by the late Mr. Clements. On the lawn of the
_Anchor_ at Hartfield, a game is in vogue called “Clock Golf,” which we
have seen nowhere else, but which possesses its attractions.

It is a traditional habit among prize-fighters when they retire on their
laurels to assume the management of a tavern, where their reputation makes
them efficient in maintaining order; but the sedentary style of life
usually produces too much adipose tissue for perfect health and happiness.
Old cricketers also drift into the same haven. Indeed, the public-house
has contributed many of the best exponents of the national game. William
Clarke, the father of modern cricket, and first secretary of the famous
All England Eleven, kept the _Trent Bridge Inn_ at Nottingham; Noah Mann,
a famous Sussex player, and one of the heroes of the Hambleden Club, came
from an inn at North Chapel, near the Surrey border of the county. He is
said to have once made ten runs with one hit. At Mitcham, nursery alike of
vegetation and of Surrey cricket, every publican is a cricketer of repute.
_Bat and Ball_, _Cricketers_, and similar signs are, of course, to be met
with everywhere.

At the _Swan_, Ash Vale, close to Basingstoke Canal, and at present kept
by Mr. John Tupper, the well-known army trainer, there still remains one
of the last rat-pits--of course, now not utilized for the sport. Ratting
survived cock-fighting for a time, the usual method being to turn a dog in
with a number of rats, which he was expected to kill within a given number
of minutes. The pit was about six feet in diameter with a high unclimbable
rim either of wood or polished cement.

A more humane, but very exciting rough-and-tumble competition may
occasionally be witnessed in the public-houses of some east-end districts,
and is entitled “Boot hunting.” Various individuals who pay an entrance
fee of perhaps sixpence, group themselves on a platform at the end of the
room, and remove their footgear which are put into a barrel, shaken up,
and then deposited in a heap. The signal is given, each man scrambles for
his own property, and to the first who succeeds in getting his boots on
the prize is awarded. Sometimes the competitors are chosen by the audience
whose “gate-money” provides the trophy.

We can hardly trace the sites even of the inns and alehouses between Ware
and Tottenham mentioned in the “Compleat Angler.” But, like old Isaac
Walton, the modern piscator loves to sample “the good liquor that our
honest forefathers did use to drink of, which preserved their health, and
made them to live so long and to do so many good deeds!” The _Talbot_ has
disappeared from Ashbourne on the Dove, but there are “other inns as
good.” The _Isaac Walton Inn_, on the Dove, has been for many years a
favourite resort of anglers. On the banks of the Thames, Kennet, Arun, or
Great Ouse, there are hostelries in which anglers much do congregate at
eventide during the season; on their walls gigantic trout (suspected by
the stranger to be modelled in plaster), float in most lifelike attitude
within a sea of painted glass. And we know of snug bar parlours in the
backwoods of Bermondsey, Finsbury, and Bethnal Green, whither about nine
o’clock men laden with rods and heavy baskets or sacks may be observed
hurrying along to be in time for the “weighing in.”

The inn yards of Bishopsgate and Southwark witnessed the early
performances of the English drama; and the auditorium of the theatre takes
its form from the tiers of galleries surrounding the “pit” which the
players found there. Music halls have also grown up from the impromptu
concerts in the taverns. The older music halls, like the _Oxford_,
_Middlesex_, or _Deacon’s_, were twenty years ago simply public-houses
with a hall behind them, where a chairman, armed with a hammer to maintain
silence, announced each performer by name and arranged the order of the
programme.

Many inns contain museums. At the _Marquis of Granby_, near New Cross
Station, there is a magnificent collection of hunting-knives, rifles, etc.
The late Mr. Frank Churchill, of the _White Lion_, Warlingham, displayed
in the ancient chimney-corner of that house gridirons, spits, and
domestic utensils of ancient pattern, and Mr. Alfred Churchill had a
similar museum at the _White Hart_, at Bletchingley.

For some unknown reason the police are discouraging these museums, and in
some districts publicans are warned against harbouring games of any kinds.
Even good old English manly pastimes like bowls and skittles are under the
ban of the licensing magistrates.

The other day we discussed the matter with an old yeoman farmer, while we
watched a quartette of young fellows playing a kind of bagatelle. He
declared that the effect of this policy, now so sedulously pursued by the
police, of depriving public-house frequenters of any species of recreation
whatever, was fast driving young men into the political clubs where
extravagant gambling and hard drinking, especially of spirits, was the
fashion. Many promising careers had been ruined in this way--and this we
may corroborate from our own experience in various towns. With tears in
his eyes the old man confessed to us that his vote had blackballed his own
boy from admission into the local club. The total expenditure of the group
during a whole evening’s amusement at the public-house amounted to a sum
not exceeding a shilling; perchance at the club they might have been
tempted to squander away at least half their week’s earnings.



CHAPTER XI

THE INNS OF LITERATURE AND ART


John Ball, shut up in the Archbishop’s prison at Canterbury, fell
a’longing for “the green fields and the whitethorn bushes, and the lark
singing over the corn, and the talk of good fellows round the alehouse
bench.” The same craving for the real things of life comes to every
creative genius fretting against class restrictions. Sir Walter Scott,
when staying with Wordsworth at Grassmere, usually managed to give his
host the slip in order to spend an hour or two in the _Swan_ beyond the
village; just as Addison had fled the splendid state of Holland House for
the _Old White Horse_ in Kensington Road. Either this wayside inn or the
_Red Lion_ at Hampton, was the scene of the historic drinking bout between
Addison and Pope, which so upset the latter’s digestion and sense of
dignity that he ever afterwards described the great essayist as a terrible
drunkard. The _Bull and Bush_, in North End Hampstead, now chiefly
patronised by holiday makers on account of its attractive tea-gardens,
was another resort where Addison, Dryden, Steele, and the rest of the
famous galaxy of wits loved to gather. It is said also to have once been
the country seat of Hogarth.

[Illustration: The Falstaff, Canterbury]

More temperate in their devotion to the flowing bowl, but scarcely less
brilliant in their abilities, were the company who fifty years ago used to
visit the _Bull_ at Woodbridge. George Borrow, the gipsy wanderer; Edward
Fitzgerald, the translator of “Omar Khayyam,” and Charles Keene, the
_Punch_ Artist, were among the number. Old John Grout, who kept the house,
was himself an odd character. When Lord Tennyson came to stay with
Fitzgerald, at Woodbridge, the latter remarked to Grout that the town
ought to feel itself honoured. John was not a student of poetry, and
inquired of Mr. Groome (whose son tells the story in “Two Suffolk
Friends”) who was the gentleman that Mr. Fitzgerald had been talking of.
“Mr. Tennyson, the poet-laureate,” was the reply. “Dissay,” said John,
hazily; “anyhow, he didn’t fare to know much about hosses when I showed
him over my stables!” In these stables there is a tomb to the memory of
George Carlow, who was buried there in 1738, at his own special desire.

Many, who afterwards rose to eminence in the world of art and letters
were born at inns. David Garrick’s birthplace was at the _Raven_ at
Hereford; at the Garrick Theatre, hard by, Kitty Clive, Mrs. Siddons and
Kemble made some of their early successes. William Cobbett was born at the
_Jolly Farmer_ at Farnham; while at the little _Wheatsheaf_ in Kelvedon,
now disused, but still retaining the wrought-iron bracket from which the
sign used to swing, Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher, first saw the
light. Cardinal Wolsey’s father is generally described as a butcher, but
he was also a tavern-keeper at Ipswich. Like dear old Tom Hughes, who kept
the _Black Lion_ at Walsingham, a few years ago, he combined with his inn,
branch shops for the sale of bread and meat. It was at the _Black Bear_ at
Devizes, then kept by his father, that Sir Thomas Lawrence first
discovered his talent as a painter. We may add that a personage with an
entirely different kind of reputation--Dick Turpin--was born at the
_Crown_, Hempstead, Essex.

A very large number of inns all over England are dedicated to the memory
of Shakespeare; in fact, a print dated 1823 shows the chief portion of the
house where the Bard was born at Stratford-on-Avon, as a very picturesque
inn--the _Swan and Maiden Head_--with a portly, good-humoured landlord
standing in the doorway and inviting visitors to enter and drink a bumper.
Of Shakespeare’s characters, the one best known on the signboards is Sir
John Falstaff. There are three _Falstaff_ inns on the Dover road. The
first is that on Gad’s Hill, the scene of the hero’s most glorious
exploit, and incidentally connecting him with his prototype, Sir John
Oldcastle. At Canterbury, just outside the West Gate, the _Falstaff_ is a
fine old-fashioned comfortable house with some very good linen-fold
panelling. But we love best to linger over the _Sir John Falstaff_ at
Newington, near Sittingbourne. The projecting upper storey, bracketed out
on grinning satyrs, the excellent portrait of the fat knight on the
signboard, the noble cornice, and the rakish lines of the great red-tiled
roof all give the distinctive character of the best Jacobean work.
Standing amid its homelier neighbours in the village street, it looks like
a rollicking cavalier who has come down in the world and is just a little
bit ashamed of being seen in such company. His finery is sadly faded; he
is obliged now to shift for himself and pick up what he can among these
common people. If we wait awhile, he will take us aside, and confide in us
about his doings, when he could share in the gay monarch’s revels with the
best of them. _Ben Jonson_, _Garrick_, and _Dr. Syntax_, are almost the
only other literary or dramatic signs that are at all common.

[Illustration: Sir John Falstaff, Newington]

The _Three Pigeons_ at Brentford was, in all likelihood, one of the haunts
of Shakespeare, and was certainly frequented by Ben Jonson, who mentions
it in the “Alchymist,” as also does Thomas Middleton in “The Roaring
Girl.” At this time the landlord was John Lowin, of the Globe Theatre,
said to have been the original creator of Falstaff in the “Merry Wives of
Windsor,” and of the part of Henry VIII. He died in great poverty during
the Commonwealth and the inn has lately been rebuilt.

Whether the _Bell_ at Edmonton is really the house at which John Gilpin
ought to have dined is a controversial point, in spite of the graphic
portrait of the hero on his mettlesome steed. More authentic is the fact
that, at the _Bell_, Charles Lamb was in the habit of taking a parting
glass with his friends before seeing them off by the London coach.

The _White Swan_ at Henley-in-Arden, and the _Red Lion_ at Henley, dispute
the claim to having inspired William Shenstone’s poem “Written at an Inn.”
Dr. Johnson decided in favour of the latter, and would repeat with emotion
the concluding verse which was scratched in the inn window:

  “Whoe’er has travelled life’s dull round
     Where’er his stages may have been,
   May sigh to think he still has found
     The warmest welcome at an inn.”

By way of antithesis we subjoin the following poem on a window in the
_Star and Garter_ at Brighton:

  “WM. VEAR
   Slept Here
   October the 1st
   Last Year.”

In the earlier chapters of “The Cloister and the Hearth,” a variety of
characteristic mediæval inns are described, with much archæological
accuracy and also with a sly satirical humour. “Like Father, like Son,” is
a proverb very true in the unchanging byways of Central Europe. Charles
Reade is for ever giving us graphic touches regarding the eccentricities
and shortcomings of Black Forest and Burgundian inns of our own time.
Delightful, too, is the scene at the _Pied Merlin_ in Conan Doyle’s “White
Company,” and we appreciate it none the less that some of the appointments
at Dame Eliza’s hostelry were scarcely likely to be found in a New Forest
inn so early as the reign of Edward III.

For the coaching inns recourse must be had to the pages of “Joseph
Andrews,” “Tom Jones,” and “Pickwick,” and for the smaller class of inns,
“The Old Curiosity Shop.” Fielding and Dickens are each inimitable in
their way; the earlier novelist concentrates on humanity in its many sorts
and conditions; Dickens, on the contrary, revels in surrounding details.
He loves to dally with every smoke-stained beam, lattice-window, or row of
battered pewter pots and blue mugs, before ushering in the motley throng
who gather round the tap-room fire, or the fine lady and gentleman in the
smartly-appointed chaise whom the landlord receives so obsequiously.

Many of the best scenes in old comedies are laid in the inns. When they
were a general place of resort for all classes, including men of rank and
fortune, they naturally lent themselves to the unexpected meetings and odd
blunders which serve to make up a farcical plot. County, racing and
hunting balls were all held in the principal inn of a town; just the
opportunity for a needy adventurer to introduce himself by impersonation
or otherwise. The details of the scheme are arranged in the Coffee Room;
and landlord or waiter supply the necessary information enabling the lover
to pose successfully as Simon Pure. Then, again, the audience were
familiar with the surroundings and were easily drawn into sympathetic
interest. Waiter, boots, and ostler were all valuable properties to be
utilized in supplying the humorous element as occasion served.

George Colman, the younger, chose for much of the action of his play,
“John Bull, or the Englishman’s Fireside,” a little wayside inn on the
Cornish border. Sir Walter Scott praised this comedy as “by far the best
example of our later comic drama. The scenes of broad humour are executed
in the best possible taste; and the whimsical, yet native characters,
reflect the manners of real life.” Not the least pleasing of these is
Denis Brulgruddery, the warm-hearted impulsive landlord of the _Red Cow_.
And so it ever is. We associate the inn with genial comfort and old
English hospitality; the sight of it kindles every good sentiment of human
kindness within us, and we hail with enthusiasm the reconciliation of
father and child, the union of two constant lovers, and happiness restored
all round. There is nothing so successful on the stage as an inn scene.

Artists have also shared in the making of the inns. A host of signboards
are attributed to Hogarth or that eccentric and profligate genius, George
Morland. Isaac Fuller was another eminent painter who turned his talents
in this direction. The _Royal Oak_ sign at Bettws-y-Coed, now in the
possession of the Willoughby d’Eresby family, was painted by David Cox,
the _George and Dragon_ at Hayes, in Kent, by Millais. Outside the
_King’s Head_ at Chigwell--the Maypole of “Barnaby Rudge”--hangs a
portrait of Charles I, by Miss Herring, while the sign of the _George and
Dragon_ at Wargrave is the work of Mr. George Leslie, R.A. St. George is
depicted as taking refreshment after the battle out of a tankard of
respectable size. The old inn by the bridge at Brandon on the Little Ouse,
and the _Old Swan_ at Fittleworth on the Arun, are full of paintings by
modern artists; the latter has one room ornamented with panel pictures by
various hands, and the sign (too delicate to hang outside) was painted by
Caton Woodville. There was at Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, a signboard
painted by Hilton, the Royal Academician, which hung over the inn door for
over forty years, finally being taken down and sold, on a change of
tenancy.

Mr. J. F. Herring, the animal painter, used to relate how he once painted
a signboard for a carpenter employed by him. The carpenter afterwards took
a beer shop and put the sign, which represented the “Flying Dutchman,”
over the door. Eventually he sold it for £50, and with the money emigrated
to Australia.

Most old inns contain pictures more or less valuable, or at least old
sporting prints. Few can compare in this respect with the _George_ at
Aylesbury, rebuilt about 1810, which from time immemorial has possessed a
remarkable collection of good pictures; portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds
and Mytens, besides some well executed copies of Rubens, Raphael and
others. It is supposed to have been brought from Eythorpe House,
demolished in the early years of the nineteenth century.



CHAPTER XII

FANCIFUL SIGNS AND CURIOUS SIGNBOARDS


The antiquarian magazines of the last century are full of correspondence
and ingenious explanations of such signs as the _Pig and Whistle_, _Cat
and Fiddle_, or _Goat in Boots_. Many of the suggestions offered are far
more whimsical in character than the devices they profess to explain. “Cat
and Fiddle” is supposed to be a corruption of _Caton Fidèle_, a certain
incorruptible Governor of Calais. _Pig and Whistle_ has been traced to
“Peg and Wassail,” with reference to the pegged tankards formerly passed
round for the loving cup, each guest being expected to drink down to the
next peg. “Pix and Housel,” in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, or the
Danish _Ave Maria_, and “Pige Washail” have also been suggested by the
learned. Mr. T. C. Croker, in his “Walk to Fulham,” attempted to derive
the _Goat in Boots_ at Fulham from _der Goden Boode_, the “Messenger of
the Gods,” or Mercury; the idea being that the house was originally a
posting inn. The _Pig and Whistle_ may possibly be a rustic corruption of
the _Bear and Ragged Staff_ on a somewhat faded signboard.

Animals masquerading in human attire or performing human actions were a
favourite conceit of the mediæval craftsman, as may be seen by the
carvings on the stalls of our old cathedrals. Most likely we owe these
humorous signs to the sign-painter himself. He was commissioned to design
an advertisement that would puzzle inquisitive people and so attract
customers.

The _Goat and Compasses_ is supposed to be a corruption of a motto set up
over inns during the period of puritan tyranny, “God encompasses us”; _Bag
of Nails_ of “Bacchanals.” In default of better explanations we must
accept these. Until recently a public house existed in St. James’ Street,
called the _Savoy Weepers_--a name which might open up an endless
mystification if we did not know that the house was previously occupied by
the _Savoir Vivre_ Club. The _Goose and Gridiron_ is, according to the
_Tatler_, a parody of the favourite trade-mark of early music houses, the
_Swan and Harp_; while the _Monster_ in Pimlico may have been the
monastery inn, built during the time that the monks of Westminster Abbey
farmed this estate.

_Why Not_, and _Dew Drop Inn_ are, of course, invitations to the wayfarer;
_Bird in Hand_ and _Last House_, or _Final_, suggestion that he should not
waste his opportunities to imbibe.

In the village of Sennen, Cornwall, is one of the best known inns, having
for its sign the _First and Last_, which is quite obviously not intended
as a limit to the drinker. It has reference, of course, to the fact that
if you should be journeying to the south-west the inn will be the _last_
one you will meet with before reaching the sea, whereas it will be the
_first_ should your journey be by ship coming eastward. As a matter of
actual experience, hundreds of ships which in the course of a year “pick
up” the light at Land’s End have not been in sight of a public-house for
months, during which they have been crossing thousands of miles of ocean.
So that in the case of sailors working these particular vessels the name
of the inn has a very appealing significance.

He would be a bold man who would venture to assert positively which is the
best-known inn in London; but if the map be consulted, the _Elephant and
Castle_ will be seen to occupy a position at the junction of several
great roads to the south, and if the volume of traffic which must daily go
past the doors is considered, it needs very little more to convince most
people that the _Elephant_ is probably better known by name at all events,
than any other public-house within the four-mile radius of Charing Cross.
In coaching times the inn was passed by every traveller bound for the
south-east, and some authorities have contended that when Shakespeare
recommended that “In the south suburbs at the _Elephant_ is best to
lodge,”[14] he had in his mind the celebrated hostelry of Newington Butts.
But this is probably a mistake, for the _Elephant and Castle_ did not come
into existence until long after Shakespeare’s time. In 1658, the ground
upon which it now stands was not built upon, but probably the first inn on
the site came into existence about twenty years later. In 1824, the inn
was rebuilt, and since then there have been many additions and alterations
which have got farther and farther away from the original building as it
was in the seventeenth century. The _Elephant and Castle_, as far as the
antiquarian is concerned, is now merely a curious name. Another extremely
rare sign in London is the _Sieve_, which as late as 1890 stood in the
Minories. In 1669 there was a _Sieve_ in Aldermanbury, but more is known
of the one in the Minories. It was referred to in the “Vade Mecum for Malt
Worms,” 1715, and was then considered one of the oldest and most noted
public-houses of London. It adjoined Holy Trinity Church. Underneath were
crypt-like cellars which may originally have had connection with the
adjoining convent of the nuns of St. Clare. In the records of the Parish
of Holy Trinity, which was all included within the ancient precincts of
the convent, there is mention of the appointment of a “vitler to the
parish.” On February 13th, 1705, is a record of a vestry meeting at the
_Sieve_ “about agreeing to pull down the churchyard wall.” On this
occasion so serious was the discussion that as much as six shillings was
spent in refreshments before the matter was settled. A good deal of
speculation on the origin of the name of this old inn has been indulged
in, one solution being that the chalk foundations in the crypt may have
suggested the sign. The Metropolitan Railway Company acquired the
property, and closed the house in 1886, before its final disappearance
four years later.

[Illustration: Sign of Fox and Hounds, Barley]

The _Adam and Eve_, another common London sign, is, we have reason to
believe, frequently a repainting of the Zodiacal sign of the _Twins_, the
city having according to astrologers, its ascendant in Gemini, the House
of Mercury, who rules merchandise and all ingenious arts.

An odd sign to find in the heart of Essex is the _Whalebone_, and in the
same county at Great Leighs, there is a _Saint Anna’s Castle_, which is
supposed to stand on the site of a hermitage made sacred by the presence
of some local saint.

Dean Swift was once asked by the village barber of Co. Meath, by whom he
was regularly shaved, to assist him in the invention of an inscription
for the sign of the _Jolly Barber_, a house which it was intended to
conduct as an inn and a barber’s shop combined. Swift at once composed the
following couplet, which remained under the painted sign depicting a
barber with a razor in one hand and a full pot in the other, for many
years:

  “Rove not from pole to pole, but step in here
   Where nought excels the shaving but--the beer.”

_The Three Loggerheads_, generally in the form of two silly looking faces
and the motto:

        “We three
  Loggerheads be,”

is an attempt to take a mean advantage of the unwary spectator. Sometimes
two asses appear on the signboard with the inscription “When shall we
three meet again?” and this sign is alluded to by Shakespeare in “Twelfth
Night.” At Mabelthorpe is a unique sign called the _Book in Hand_. It is
not so much on account of its name that it is curious, for this might have
occurred to anyone, particularly in days when the ability to read was not
so conspicuously common as it is to-day. But the sign itself is so odd. A
rudely shaped hand and forearm sticks out straight from the brick wall and
in the hand is an open book with three Latin crosses on the right page
and one on the left. The origin of the sign is lost, but it seems
obviously to have had at one time some ecclesiastical connection.

Many names of inns have arisen from the puns on the landlord or locality.
The _Black Swan_ in Bartholomew Lane, once a resort for musical
celebrities was kept by Owen Swan, parish clerk of St. Michael’s Cornhill.
The _Brace_ Tavern, in Queen’s Bench Prison, was opened by two brothers of
the name of Partridge. _Hat and Tun_ was the sign of a public-house in
Hatton Garden, and the _Warbolt in Tun_ of the little inn at Warbleton, in
Sussex. At least one _Three Pigeons_ began business with a worthy surnamed
Pigeon for landlord, although this sign is usually derived from a coat of
arms charged with three martlets. According to a correspondent, the _Bell
Inn_ of a village not far from Oxford was formerly kept by John Good, who
set up this inscription under a gigantic representation of a bell:

  “My name, likewise my ale, is good,
   Walk in, and taste my own home-brewed,
   For all that know John Good can tell
   That, like my sign, it bears the Bell.”

Ben Jonson in the “Alchymist” satirised this kind of wit:

      “He shall have _a bell_ that’s Abel,
  And by it standing one whose name is _Dee_
  In a rug gown, there’s _D_ and _Rug_, that’s Drug;
  And right anenst him a dog snarling _err_,
  There’s _Drugger_, Abel Drugger. That’s his sign.”

The last _Honest Lawyer_ in London has just ceased to exist, but there is
still an _Honest Miller_ at Withersden, near Wye, in Kent. It is
approached by devious ways and difficult to find. Hence perhaps the name.
Like the _Silent Woman_, the honest lawyer was represented with his head
cut off. A very famous signboard, said to have been painted by Hogarth,
was _The Man loaded with Mischief_, in Oxford Street. The man was carrying
a woman, glass in hand, a magpie, and a monkey. Underneath was the rhyme:

  “A monkey, a magpie, and a wife
   Is the true emblem of strife.”

At Grantham, an eccentric lord of the manor about a century ago insisted
on having all the signs of public-houses on his estate painted with the
political colour which he favoured. Thus the town possessed, in 1830, the
following: _Blue Boat_, _Blue Sheep_, _Blue Bull_, _Blue Ram_, _Blue
Lion_, _Blue Bell_, _Blue Cow_, _Blue Boar_, _Blue Horse_, and _Blue Inn_.
By way of retaliation, a neighbouring landowner and political opponent
actually named one of his houses the _Blue Ass_. Grantham also can boast
of the original _Beehive Inn_ with the motto:

  “Stop! Traveller, this wondrous sign explore,
   And say when thou hast viewed it o’er,
   Grantham, now, two rarities are thine,
   A lofty steeple, and a living sign.”

On Gallows Tree Heath, near Reading, there stands a _Reformation Inn_,
somewhat grim and tantalizing in its greeting to the unfortunate wretches
who were led past it to execution, and had lost the opportunity to profit
by the advice. A cynical humour of the same description must have
suggested the _Half Brick_ for the sign of an inn at Worthing. It is said
that the aborigines of some towns in England invariably welcome a stranger
by “heaving half a brick at him.”

The original _Hole in the Wall_ is believed to have been either (1) a
highwayman’s retreat, such as the _Hole in the Wall_ in Chandos Street,
where Claude Duval was captured, or (2) an aperture made in the wall of a
debtor’s prison through which charitable people might offer gifts of money
or victuals to the unfortunate inmates. At the _Hole in the Wall_ in the
Borough there is a museum of curiosities worth a visit, and another under
the railway arches of Waterloo Station is a noted depot for Petersfield
ales, much frequented by railway men and various odd characters. There is
to this day a very suggestive hole in the wall at _Turpin’s Cave_, a
small inn near High Beech, Epping Forest. In this hole it is commonly
believed that the celebrated highwayman hid himself on many occasions when
hard pressed by the police. The story can very easily be believed by
anyone with a spark of imagination, for the inn lies in a secluded nook
which even to-day is not at all easy to find, in spite of a signboard
stuck up in the gorse bushes some little distance from the road. The hole
itself is a kind of arched ruin, bricked over, and might at a pinch have
held Black Bess and her famous rider.

[Illustration: Sign of Black’s Head, Ashbourne]

Almost gone are the heavy frames and beams which once stretched across the
highways and effectually proclaimed the name and style under which the
innkeeper carried on his business. On these beams a group of swans
disported in effigy before the _Four Swans_ at Waltham Cross. A fine
magpie dangled from the centre at Stonham, Suffolk, while elsewhere a fox
was represented crossing the beam and followed by a bevy of hounds. There
is still remaining such a beam, from the centre of which a bell is
suspended outside the _Bell_ at Edenbridge. Another is still in use at
Ashbourne, Derbyshire, where the _Green Man and Black’s Head_, an old
Georgian posting house, announces its existence by a long beam stretched
across the street, supported at one end by a pole, the other end running
into the red brick wall of the building, immediately over the typical
archway leading to the inn yard. The black’s head is an effigy in carved
and painted wood, planted firmly in the centre of the beam and looking for
all the world as if it had only lately been cut off and put there to warn
other blacks of a similar awful fate, if ever they should chance to come
to Ashbourne. Under the head, suspended from the beam is a big framed
picture, and a small secondary beam on each side has recently been placed
to carry those two terribly modern words, “garage” and “petrol.” One can
fancy the old driver of the four-in-hand, could he come to life again,
scratching his head in perplexity over the hidden mysteries of these
literary innovations to the familiar sign. Ashbourne, it may be remarked
in passing, whilst perhaps not glorying in “one man one public-house,” is
certainly as close to that condition of things as any town in England. To
a stranger visiting Ashbourne in the middle of the week and feeling the
charm of its quiet old-world streets with but few people walking about, it
is a matter for wonder as to how all the licensed houses keep going. But
go there on market days and note the waggons and farmers’ carts standing
in rows outside every hostelry and the matter becomes much more easily
understood. Ashbourne, like one or two other towns of the North Derbyshire
and Staffordshire moors, has until quite recently been cut off from the
run of the country’s traffic, and is still a market centre for a very
extensive agricultural district. Within the last year or two a road motor
service has placed it in rapid and frequent communication with the county
town, so that this comparative isolation is likely to last very little
longer.

The _White Hart_ at Scole, in Norfolk, once had the most expensive and
elaborate sign of this character ever produced. High above the road it
stretched, on one side attached to the house, and resting on a brick pier
at the opposite end across the way. In the centre was a noble White Hart,
carved in a stately wreath, while on each side were no less than
twenty-four allegorical figures in compartments. The whole was designed by
John Fairchild, in 1655, and cost £1,057. An engraving was published by
Martin in 1740. By the way, this inn also possessed “a very large round
bed big enough to hold fifteen or twenty couples in imitation of the
great bed at Ware.”

[Illustration: Sign of White Hart, Witham]

Of existing signs, the most remarkable is the _Red Lion_ of Martlesham
outside an inn which is itself both old and curious. This monster, a
byword all over Suffolk, was probably at one time the figure-head of a
ship, and local tradition ascribes it to one of the Dutch warships
destroyed in the battle of Sole Bay, fought off Southwold in 1672. Outside
the _Bear_ at Wantage stands a lifelike carved bear on a high pedestal; at
the _Bear_ at Chelsham, in Surrey, a large white bear lurks amongst the
shrubs of the front garden in a way very startling to timid passers-by,
especially at dusk. The _Swan_ at Great Shefford, in Bucks, has a most
effective sign, in the form of a large vane representing a swan; while the
_White Horse_ at Ipswich, as in Mr. Pickwick’s time, “is rendered the more
conspicuous by a stone statue of some rapacious animal with flowing mane
and tail distantly resembling an insane cart-horse, which is elevated
above the principal door.”

The disused _Sun Inn_ at Saffron Walden, built about 1625, has for its
sign a noble piece of plaster work in the tympanum representing the Sun
supported by two giants. A curious old piece of carving which displays a
white swan chained to a tree flanked by the arms of England and France
forms the sign of the _Swan Inn_ at Clare, and probably is intended to
commemorate some triumph of the House of Clarence over the Lancastrians.
Another beautiful little inn, now disused and sadly neglected, the _Angel_
at Theale, has angel heads introduced over each of its dainty oriels.

[Illustration: Angel Inn, Theale]

Many of the _White Hart_ inns retain painted signboards of quite passable
quality. At Chelmsford, the animal is carved and rests on a projecting
bracket. More prominent, though not conceived in a very artistic spirit,
is the _White Hart_ at Witham, cut out and painted on a huge piece of
sheet copper. This is widely known as the most conspicuous and telling
sign on the road from London to Ipswich.

The _White Hart_ in the Borough, now converted into a club in honour of
Sam Weller, possessed anciently the largest signboard in London. Perhaps
this is why Jack Cade selected it in 1450 for his headquarters. Of
existing signboards the most elaborate is the _Five Alls_ at Marlborough,
once a very common subject for the tavern picture. The first compartment
portrays the Queen with the label, “I rule all.” In the second is a
Bishop, “I pray for all.” Next comes a lawyer, “I plead for all,” followed
by a truculent soldier, “I fight for all.” The last figure is the
taxpayer, “I pay for all.” Some facetious innkeepers added a sixth, the
Devil with the motto, “I take all!” This sign with local modifications is
not unknown outside the drinking shops in Holland, and, according to
Larbert, a characteristic example may be seen swinging under the blue sky
in the sunny street of Valetta in Malta. The largest sign we have ever
come across is the tile painting on the front of the _Kentish Drovers_ in
the old Kent Road.

But the number of these quaint and comical signs is diminishing every
year. The innkeeper plies his trade under more difficult conditions and is
glad to accept the tempting cash offers made to him by collectors. In
place of the old carved figures or painting, last survival of the days
when every building in a town was distinguished by some badge or device,
the name of a public-house now generally appears written in gilt letters
on the signboard. Even this is frequently lost amid the flaring
advertisements of the brewer, and of the various brands of whiskey
retailed in the establishment. In fact, the frequenters of such a house of
entertainment, especially in the London district, are sometimes ignorant
of its ancient designation, and refer to it either by the name of the
landlord, or of the wholesale dealer, “Mooney’s” or “Guests,” for whose
business it serves as a local branch.

Landlords of inns near London are not usually very original in their views
of life, and rarely advertise any spark of humour. Perhaps they take
their duties to the public too seriously. Occasionally, however, one comes
across evidence that the keeper of an inn is sufficiently detached in mind
as to admit within the walls of his house of business a jest or two in
print. These are usually framed and hung up in the bar, and as they have
never been seen quite new, but are frequently fly-blown and yellow with
age, it would seem to follow that the race of facetious landlords has come
to an end. In the _Duke of Wellington Inn_, near High Beech, Epping
Forest, the following rules hang in the bar. They are probably from their
phraseology American in origin, and the second was evidently designed as a
sarcastic if not effectual check upon manners and customs in business
houses of the States.

    NOTICE

    1. A man is kept engaged in the yard to do all the CURSING and
    SWEARING at this establishment.

    2. A Dog is kept to do all the BARKING.

    3. Our Potman or “Chucker Out” has won seventy-five prizes, and is an
    excellent shot with a Revolver.

    4. The UNDERTAKER calls every morning FOR ORDERS.

    5. The Lord helps those who help themselves; but the Lord help those
    that are caught helping themselves here.

This notice hangs in an old frame over the door. On an adjoining wall is
the following:

    OFFICE RULES

    1. Gentlemen upon entering will leave the door open or apologise.

    2. Those having no business should remain as long as possible, take a
    chair and lean against the wall; it will preserve the wall and prevent
    it falling upon us.

    3. Gentlemen are requested to smoke, especially during office hours;
    tobacco and segars of the finest brands will be supplied gratis.

    4. Spit on the floor, as the spittoons are only for ornaments.

    5. TALK LOUD or WHISTLE, especially when we are engaged. If this has
    not the desired effect, SING.

    6. If we are in business conversation with anyone, gentlemen are
    requested not to wait until we are disengaged, but join us, as we are
    particularly fond of speaking to half a dozen or more at one time.

    7. Profane language is expected at all times, especially if ladies are
    present.

    8. Put your feet on the table, or lean against the desk. It will be of
    great assistance to those who are writing.

    9. Persons having no business to transact will call often or excuse
    themselves.

    10. Should anyone desire to borrow money do not fail to ask for it, as
    we do not require it for business purposes, but merely for the sake of
    lending.

We copied the following from a placard either in the _Windmill_ at
Hollingbourne, or the _Ten Bells_ at Leeds, in Kent:

    GOOD ADVICE

    Call Frequently,
    Drink Moderately,
    Pay Honourably,
    Be Good Company,
    Part Friendly,
    Go Home Quietly.

    Let these lines be no man’s sorrow, pay to-day and trust to-morrow.

In the _General Wolfe_ at Westerham:

      THE LANDLORD’S PUZZLE

    More      Shall      Trust
    Score     I          Sent
    for       what       I
    my        And        Have
    Do        Beer       If
    Pay       Clerk      Brewers
    I         May        So
    Must      Their      My

And at Groombridge:

  My ale is good, my measure just,
  And yet--my friends, I cannot trust.



CHAPTER XIII

HAUNTED INNS


Why is it that haunted inns are so scarce and difficult to find? We have
sought for them far and wide. During thirty years of wanderings among the
old inns, we have retired for the night full oft into blackened oak-lined
chambers with secret sliding panels in the walls, or traps in the ceiling,
that offered golden opportunities for any ghost of enterprise; rooms where
heavy tie-beams and dark recesses cast eerie shadows in the moonlight;
vast churchlike dormitories with springy floors which if one jumped out of
bed caused the door incontinently to unlatch and open in a distinctly
ghostlike manner. But no supernatural visitor has ever favoured us. In
vain we have tried the experiment of sleeping in bedchambers which the
great ones of the earth have made memorable, from Queen Elizabeth to Dick
Turpin. No cavalier knight has ever tried to unburden his conscience to
us, no spectral dame has come to moan and wring her hands with grief, no
clanking chains on the stairs, merely the peaceful dreamless sleep of the
proverbial top.

The learned in occult lore tell us that the astral body must follow the
habits of the departed to whom it once belonged. It would therefore prefer
private dwellings to the inns which it merely occupied for a night or two.
Ghosts with a grievance would find more congenial occupation in annoying
surviving relatives rather than the passing traveller who is not
interested in their concerns. Well-informed and intelligent spectres, of
course (unless they had some private end in view), steer clear of inns
altogether. At the baronial hall, the ghost is a cherished petted
heirloom; the innkeeper regards him as a nuisance, driving away the more
timid class of customers, and in case of trouble might call in the parson
to exorcise him with bell, book and candle. Then, again, in the halcyon
days for the spooks, say a hundred years ago, the traveller generally
drank deeply to the good of the house. The spectral vision fell flat when
tested on an individual well inoculated with spirit of a more material
nature. In face of all these discouragements, the ghosts, as a rule, left
hotels and taverns unmolested.

One exception is to be found at the _Ostrich_ at Colnbrook, a beautiful
old Elizabethan coaching inn, retaining near the middle of its long
half-timbered and gabled front, above the yard gate, the platform by which
“the quality” embarked on the coach. It is an ideal place for a ghost to
take sanctuary, with many corridors and low-ceilinged chambers, all lined
through with carved chestnut panelling and twisted pilasters. There is a
Queen’s room, said to have been used by Queen Elizabeth while awaiting the
repair of her coach which had lost a wheel crossing the ford. Over the
mantelpiece is her coat of arms. But chiefest of all is the Blue Chamber,
sacred to the memory of Dick Turpin. This ubiquitous villain, so tradition
states, once leaped from the first floor window and escaped into the
street when pressed by the authorities.[15]

The ghost is also associated with the Blue Chamber. His name in the flesh
was Thomas Cole, and his story is told in a very rare work of Jacobean
date, published by Thowe, of Reading.

Once upon a time in the reign of Henry I, the _Ostrich_ was already a
flourishing inn kept by a man and his wife who were secretly robbers and
murderers. When a guest of substance came along and was considered a
suitable victim, the husband would remark aloud: “Wife, I know of a fat
pig if you want one!” and she would answer, “Well, put him into the pigsty
till to-morrow.” Then the visitor was put into the Blue Chamber above the
kitchen. Underneath the bed there was a trap-door, so arranged that by
pulling out two iron pins in the kitchen below the whole fell down, and
plunged the unfortunate man into an immense iron brewing-vat filled with
boiling water. The dead body was then thrown into the Colne which flows
just behind the house. If other travellers asked for the murdered man in
the morning, they were told that he had saddled his horse and ridden away
before dawn. As a matter of fact, the horse had been saddled and taken
away to a barn, some distance off, where the innkeeper cropped and branded
it in such a manner that recognition was impossible.

Thomas Cole was a Reading clothier, rich and thrifty. He was in the habit
of riding to London, and sleeping at the _Ostrich_ on his return
journey, when he usually carried a considerable sum of money, the proceeds
of his sales. For a long time Cole had been marked out for the cauldron as
he usually travelled alone. After the manner of most sixteenth-century
legends--Arden of Faversham, for example--the murderers were on several
occasions balked of their prey at the last moment when the guest had been
shown into the Blue Chamber. Once it was his friends, Gray of Gloucester
and William of Worcester, who also traded with cloth in London, and
arrived unexpectedly late at night. Another time a tavern dispute kept the
house in commotion; a third time a rumour came that his friend Thomas à
Beckett’s house in Chepe was on fire, and he returned to town. On another
visit he was so ill that a nurse must needs watch by his bedside.

[Illustration: The “Clothiers’ Arms,” Stroud]

But at last the opportunity came. Poor Thomas was full of forebodings of
some impending calamity all the evening. He dictated his will to the
landlord, disposing of his wealth, half to his only daughter, half to his
wife. His goodness failed to move the hearts of the greedy couple, and
that night the bolts were withdrawn and he was scalded to death.

When the innkeeper had disposed of the body in the river, he found that
the merchant’s horse had broken loose and wandered out into the street,
where he was lost for the time being.

Next day, Cole’s family, who were expecting his return, were alarmed at
his non-appearance. They sent his servants to make inquiries at the inn.
The horse was found on the road. The servants were not satisfied with the
explanations given them, and appealed to the authorities. On hearing this,
the innkeeper lost courage and fled secretly away; but his wife was
apprehended and confessed the truth. It appeared that sixty persons had
been done away with by means of the falling floor. Both the murderers
eventually suffered the extreme penalties of the law of that period.

On the credit of the above story the ghost of Thomas Cole enjoyed for
centuries a magnificent notoriety, strutting proudly at midnight along the
corridors and terrifying any unfortunate occupant of the Blue Chamber out
of his wits. But the historical critic has found him out. There was no
cloth trade either in Reading, Gloucester, or Worcester, when Henry I was
king, nor was Thomas à Beckett a friend of his, nor did the Blue Chamber
itself exist, indeed there were no beds invented for ages afterwards.
Colnbrook is not so called because “Cole was in the Brook” as was
pretended, nor did the river Colne receive that name because Cole was in
it. If the shade of Mr. Cole has not fled away altogether, it takes care
to hide its diminished head in some dark corner or cupboard. For at least
ten years this detected impostor has not shown himself in the Blue
Chamber. As a matter of fact, the _Ostrich_ was a hospice founded by Milo
Crispin about 1130, and given in trust to the Benedictines at Abingdon.

About two hundred years ago the owners of the _Hind’s Head_ at Bracknell
tried to emulate the exploits of their rivals at Colnbrook. One winter’s
night a stout-hearted farmer was benighted there and spent a merry evening
round the fire with some jovial companions. At last a serving-maid showed
him up to his chamber. In a scared whisper she warned him that he had
taken refuge with a band of villains. By the side of the bedstead was a
trap-door leading into a deep well. He threw the bed down the trap-door
and escaped by the window. Then he roused the neighbourhood. The gang of
ruffians were captured and all executed at Reading. In the well were found
the bones of all their victims.

The _Hind’s Head_ is a pleasant little inn, with a fine old garden, and we
have slept in the haunted room--slept the sleep of the just undisturbed by
visitors of any kind. But we have hopes of the _Hind’s Head_, for the
present occupier is a man of taste, who believes that behind the modern
wainscot ingle-nooks and other treasures of the old time are waiting to be
unveiled. The trap-door and the well are to be seen _in situ_, and perhaps
when the old-fashioned appearance of the interior is restored, the ghosts
may be induced to return.

On the western end of Exmoor there is an old inn, the _Acland Arms_, which
supernatural visitants have rendered uninhabitable. It lies deserted and
melancholy, with its ruined porch and the broken walls of its weed-choked
garden. The wraith of Farmer Mole haunts its precincts. He was returning
from South Molton market one dark night on a horse laden with sacks of
lime. Many years afterwards horse and man were dug out of the bog close
by, into which they must have wandered in the mist and become engulfed.

For the tale of the “Hand of Glory” we are indebted to Mrs. Katherine
Macquoid, and will let it be told in her own words, with only a few
abbreviations.[16]

The _Spital Inn_ on Stanmore in Yorkshire, was, in the year 1797, a long
narrow building kept by one George Alderson. Its lower storey was used as
stabling, for the stage-coaches changed horses at the inn; the upper part
was reached by a flight of ten or twelve steps leading up from the road to
a stout oaken door, and the windows, deeply recessed in the thick walls,
were strongly barred with iron.

One stormy October night, while the rain swept pitilessly against the
windows and the fierce gusts made the casements rattle, George Alderson
and his son sat over the crackling log fire and talked of their gains at
Broughton Hill Fair; these gains, representing a large sum of money, being
safely stowed away in a cupboard in the landlord’s bedroom. A knock at the
door interrupted them.

“Open t’ door, lass,” said Alderson. “Ah wadna keep a dog out sik a neet
as this.”

“Eh! best slacken t’ chain, lass,” said the more cautious landlady.

The girl went to the door, but when she saw that the visitor was an old
woman, she bade her come in. There entered a bent figure dressed in a
long cloak and hood; this last was drawn over her face and, as she walked
feebly to the armchair which Alderson pushed forward, the rain streamed
from her clothing and made a pool on the oaken floor. She shivered
violently but refused to take off her cloak and have it dried. She also
refused the offer of food or a bed. She said she was on her way to the
south, and must start as soon as there was daylight. All she needed was a
rest beside the fire.

The innkeeper and his wife were well used to wayfarers; they soon said
“Good-night,” and went to bed; so did their son. Bella, the maid, was left
alone with the shivering old woman, who gave but surly answers to her
advances, and the girl fancied that the voice, though low, was not a
woman’s. Presently the wayfarer stretched out her feet to warm them, and
Bella’s quick eyes saw under the hem of the skirt that the stranger wore
horseman’s gaiters. The girl felt uneasy, and instead of going to bed, she
resolved to stay up and watch.

[Illustration: The “Greyhound” Inn, Stroud]

Presently Bella lay down on a long settle beyond the range of the
firelight and watched the stranger while she pretended to fall asleep.
All at once the figure in the chair stirred, raised its head and listened;
then it rose slowly to its feet, no longer bent but tall and powerful
looking; it stood listening for some time. There was no sound but Bella’s
heavy breathing, and the wind and rain beating on the windows. Then the
woman took from the folds of her cloak a brown withered human hand; next
she produced a candle, lit it from the fire, and placed it in the hand.
Bella’s heart beat so fast that she could hardly keep up the regular deep
breathing of pretended sleep; but now she saw the stranger coming towards
her with this ghastly chandelier, and she closed her lids tightly. She
felt that the woman was bending over her, and that the light was passed
slowly before her eyes, while these words were muttered in the strong
masculine voice that had first roused her suspicions:

  “Let those who rest more deeply sleep;
   Let those awake their vigils keep.”

The light moved away, and through her eyelashes Bella saw that the woman’s
back was turned to her, and that she was placing the hand in the middle of
the long oak table, while she muttered this rhyme:

  “O Hand of Glory, shed thy light;
   Direct us to our spoil to-night.”

Then she moved a few steps away and undrew the window curtains. Coming
back to the latter she said:

  “Flash out thy light, O skeleton hand,
   And guide the feet of our trusty band.”

At once the light shot up a bright vivid gleam, and the woman walked to
the door; she took down the bar, drew back the bolts, unfastened the
chain, and Bella felt a keen blast of cold night air rush in as the door
was flung open. She kept her eyes closed, however, for the woman at that
moment looked at her, and then drawing something from her gown, she blew a
long shrill whistle; she then went out at the door and down a few of the
steps, stopped and whistled again, but the next moment a vigorous push
sent her spinning down the steps on to the road below. The door was
closed, barred and bolted, and Bella almost flew to her master’s bedroom
and tried to wake him. In vain, he and his wife slept on, while their
snores sounded loudly through the house. The girl felt frantic.

She then tried to rouse young Alderson, but he slept as if in a trance.
Now a fierce battery on the door and cries below the windows told that
the band had arrived.

A new thought came to Bella. She ran back to the kitchen. There was the
Hand of Glory, still burning with a wonderful light. The girl caught up a
cup of milk that stood on the table, dashed it on the flame and
extinguished it. In one moment, as it seemed to her, she heard footsteps
coming from the bedrooms, and George Alderson and his son rushed into the
room with firearms in their hands. As soon as the robbers heard the
landlord’s voice bidding them depart, they summoned him to open the door,
and produce his valuables. Meanwhile young Alderson had opened the window,
and for answer he fired his blunderbuss down among the men below.

There was a groan--a fall--then a pause, and, as it seemed to the
besieged, a sort of discussion. Then a voice called out, “Give up the Hand
of Glory, and we will not harm you.”

For answer young Alderson fired again and the party drew off. Seemingly
they had trusted entirely to the Hand of Glory, or else they feared a long
resistance, for no further attack was made. The withered hand remained in
the possession of the Aldersons for sixteen years after.

This story, concludes Mrs. Macquoid, was told to my informant, Mr.
Atkinson, by Bella herself when she was an old woman.

[Illustration: The Ship, Wingham]



CHAPTER XIV

OLD INNS AND THEIR ARCHITECTURE


Although many of our country inns must in their structural substance date
from the reigns of Edward III and Richard II, and some, like the _Red
Lion_ at Wingham, and the _White Hart_ at Newark, possess features that
are without doubt fourteenth-century work, the earliest examples worthy of
extended description and classification date from the middle of the
fifteenth century. The enormous development of trade, and the wealth of
the towns at this period, occasioned the building of hostelries so
magnificent in size and so well adapted for comfort that they have often
served through the strain and stress of coaching days. Some of these inns
are well worthy of being compared with the grand parish churches which the
same age has bequeathed to us.

Hidden behind a corner of the market-place at Aylesbury is the noble old
_King’s Head_, presenting to a narrow turning its broad mullioned windows
and Tudor entrance gateway. The interior has an open spacious staircase,
and a lofty tap-room with massive oak cornice, and moulded ceiling-ribs
meeting in a carved boss. It is lighted by a magnificent window, the
ancient stained glass in which represents the arms of England and France
quartered, the arms of Margaret of Anjou, and numerous heraldic and
ecclesiastical symbols. A strong opinion exists that this house was a
refectory for the Grey Friars; others have suggested that it was a hall of
one of the town Guilds, built soon after the marriage of Henry VI, in
1444. With regard to the glass, there is some question whether it was not
brought hither from some other position, especially as one of the heraldic
shields has been reversed during insertion. But the whole apartment
remains very much in its original state except that the chimney piece is
ordinary and modern.

[Illustration: King’s Head, Aylesbury]

The yard of the old _King’s Head_ is still a busy picturesque one on
market days, but the scene has lost a delightful background since the
removal of the old galleries.

Even finer in its carvings and the richly-moulded cornice and ceiling
beams is the great hall in the _Bull_ at Long Melford. Probably this is a
little earlier in date than the Aylesbury house. Unfortunately, the
beauty of this exquisite hall is marred by glass partitions and modern
wall decoration of an inferior quality. Three miles away at Sudbury there
is another _Bull_ also of Edwardian date, full of quaint nooks and
retaining its original front, altered only by the insertion of a few
eighteenth-century window frames. It stands near the site of an old
friary, but we are inclined to believe that it owes its name, not to a
monastic origin, but to the Black Bull of the House of Clarence.

[Illustration: Tap-room at the Bull, Sudbury]

Other fine old inns of this period are the _New Inn_ at Gloucester, built
by Abbot Seabrook from the designs of John Twyning, a monk; the _Sun_ at
Feering in Essex, formerly a manor-house; and the _George_ at Glastonbury,
unique in the possession of its original stone front, bold oriels and
richly-traceried windows. The _Crown_ at Shipton-under-Wychwood has a fine
archway in the Perpendicular style and also some mullioned windows.

Nearer London is the _White Hart_ at Brentwood. “There are few hostelries
in England,” says Albert Smith, “into which a traveller would sooner turn
for entertainment for himself and animal than that of the _White Hart_,
whose effigy looks placidly along the principal street from his lofty
bracket, secured thereto by a costly gilt chain, which assuredly prevents
him from jumping down and plunging into the leafy glades and coverts
within view. And when you enter the great gate, there is a friendly look
in the old carved gallery running above the yard, which speaks of comfort
and hospitality; you think at once of quiet chambers; beds into which you
dive, and sink at least three feet down, for their very softness; with
sweet, clean, country furniture, redolent of lavender. The pantry, too, is
a thing to see, not so much for the promise of refection which it
discloses, as for its blue Dutch tiles, with landscapes thereon, where
gentlemen of meditative minds, something between Quakers and British
yeomen, are walking about in wonderful coats, or fishing in troubled
waters; all looking as if they were very near connections of the
celebrated pedestrian, Christian, as he appeared in the old editions of
‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.’” And the _White Hart_ at Brentwood remains a
treasure among old inns, although fate has not been kind to it during the
sixty years since little Fred Scattersgood found shelter there when
running away from persecution at Merchant Taylors’ School. Depressed Tudor
arches, framed in dark oak, open into each of its two great yards, and an
early Tudor arcading forms the front of the gallery, a retreat from which
the fair dames of Brentwood were wont to watch the cock-fightings. Just
inside the principal entrance will be found some excellent renaissance
woodwork.

[Illustration: “The King’s Head,” Loughton, Essex]

At Alfriston, in Sussex, is the _Star Inn_, small in size, but of the
highest interest. On brackets on each side of the doorway are mitred
figures of St. Giles with a hind and St. Julian, the patrons of weary
wayfarers. A beam in the parlour is ornamented with a shield and the
sacred monogram, and all kinds of curious carvings abound in the building.
In the dining-room upstairs, suggestive of an old ship’s cabin, the solid
construction of the fine old roof may be studied. For four centuries it
has borne its coverings of thick Horsham stone slabs without shifting, and
seems sound enough to resist time for a long period to come. Antiquarians
have supposed this inn to have been erected as a pilgrim’s hostel, but it
seems scarcely probable that voyagers, even if they landed at Seaford,
would take this route either to Canterbury or Chichester. It belonged to
the Abbey of Battle, and the many ecclesiastical carvings may be ascribed
to the monkish craftsmen. Just above a facetious, smiling lion thickly
bedaubed with red paint, and evidently the figure-head of a ship stranded
on this dangerous coast, is the carver’s mark showing the date of the
building. A rude heraldic design on the angle bracket, represents a
coronetted ragged staff supported by a bear and a lion with a twisted
tail. In 1495, Edmund Dudley married Elizabeth Grey, last heiress of
Warwick the “King-maker.” The union of the Green Lion with the Bear and
Ragged Staff was a great event for the Sussex people. Edmund Dudley was
brought up at Lewes Priory, and the hillfolk were proud of his success in
becoming the chief minister of his time.

The _Maid’s Head_ at Norwich, so far as the older part of this excellent
house is concerned, is chiefly Elizabethan and early Jacobean; thanks to
the careful restoration and the valuable collection of old furniture
introduced by Mr. Walter Rye, much of the interior helps us to realise
what an old inn looked like two or three centuries ago. But the _Maid’s
Head_ has a more ancient history, and can boast of a Norman cellar (a
relic of the Bishop’s Palace), while in the drawing-room, a real
fifteenth-century fireplace, discovered in the thickness of the wall, has
been opened up and correctly fitted with dogs and hood. The panelled
billiard-room, cosy Jacobean bar, and the music gallery in the assembly
room (like the “Elevated Den” in the _Bull_ at Rochester), are all
delightful. The only fault we can find at the _Maid’s Head_ is that the
old inn-yard, now converted into a lounge, has been roofed in with glass
at too low a level. A much better effect would have been attained by
introducing the glazed protection high above the galleries, as has been
done in the yard of the _Rose and Crown_ at Sudbury.

[Illustration: Sun Inn, Feering]

Another Elizabethan inn of note is the _Star_ at Great Yarmouth, built by
a local merchant, William Crowe, at the end of the sixteenth century. Here
the Nelson Room, so called from a famous portrait of Lord Nelson, is
beautifully panelled in dark oak. When the match-boarding was torn down
for repairs about forty years ago the original fireplace and chimney-piece
were discovered and restored. Over the mantel are the arms of the Merchant
Adventurers who received their charters from Queen Elizabeth.

The exact date of the _Feathers_ at Ludlow is not very easy to determine,
but it must have existed before 1609, when Rees Jones took a lease of the
premises; and the initials “R. I.” on the lockplate probably refer to
him. The splendid carved front with a gallery of spiral balusters, the
studded door, elaborate ceilings, fireplaces and panelling are, of course,
well known to all students, and illustrated in every collection. In 1616,
there was a celebration in Ludlow of “The Love of Wales to their Sovereign
Prince”; and from this event the inn must have received its name. It is
the finest of all the _Magpie_ half-timbered inns of Cheshire,
Herefordshire, and Shropshire. By the time these lines are in print the
famous “Globe Room” at the _Reindeer_ at Banbury will have been exported
to America, but a replica in all respects is to be erected in its place. A
copy of the ceiling is already at the South Kensington Museum.

Many of the great coaching inns of the Queen Anne and Georgian eras are
not lacking in good proportion and correct classic detail. But they lack
the individuality of the very old inns, and a long description of them
would interest only the purely architectural student. The artist will find
effects of colour and lighting in the mouldering brick cornices at
Godalming or Sittingbourne. The old ballrooms in county towns, now
deserted for the modern Town Hall, and made to do duty as store rooms,
are always worth peeping into; and little survivals of our forefathers’
habits of life are to be detected in the broad staircases and deep easy
window seats. Hotel architecture continued to follow the fashion, and even
the Greek revival early in the last century and the later Italian revival
had their influence.

Some very curious examples of the Sir Charles Barry period are to be noted
in the neighbourhood of the Crystal Palace. Fifty years of wear might make
us forgive some of their eccentricities. Among these, one of the best from
the architectural point of view, is the little _Goat House Hotel_ in South
Norwood, so named from a famous goat-breeding establishment which existed
on an island of the Croydon Canal. The portico, cluster of narrow
round-headed windows and slender Lombardic tower of this building are not
bad, albeit hopelessly exotic. At least they show an attempt at artistic
purpose during the years when public-house design was generally mechanical
and sordid.

For the very queerest adaptation by a local builder of the style in vogue
during the Greek revival, a visit must be paid to the _Lisle Castle_, on
the Dover Road, about three miles beyond Gravesend.

[Illustration: The Noah’s Ark, Lurgashall]

Old wayside inns, as a rule, have few architectural pretensions; good
sound proportion, breadth of roof, bold chimney breasts, and age together
suffice to make them attractive and dignified. Internally the tap-rooms
are often panelled, and the ceilings crossed by many smoke-stained beams;
with here and there a welcome chimney-corner. Ingle-nooks and
chimney-corners are still fairly numerous even in the home counties.
Surrey can boast of a good half-dozen; _The Plough_ at Smallfield, near
Red Hill, the _Crown_ at Chiddingfold, the _White Lion_ at Warlingham, may
be given as instances--while there are more than one in that fine old
Elizabethan inn, the _Clayton Arms_, formerly the _White Hart_ at
Godstone. Leaves Green and Groombridge own two out of the many scattered
about Kent. In Sussex they are too common to require special notice.



CHAPTER XV

THE COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER


The genuine traveller is really the man who is on business. Even the
tourist can scarcely lay confident claim to the title. Is he not on
pleasure bent? Is he not going from place to place merely for the fun of
the thing? Is he not really a stay-at-home who has ventured out merely to
stretch his legs? Ask the keeper of a commercial hotel in a country town
who his customers are. He will tell you that they are commercial
_travellers_ and coffee-room _visitors_. The two classes are distinct in
the mind of mine host. One suggests work, the other play. The commercial
man is bound to travel whether he likes it or not, the visitor is a fitful
amateur amusing himself by a change from the monotony of home.

Whoso looks upon the commercial traveller as a modern production created
by the railway system should listen to the explosion of wrath from an old
hand on the road, who has had time and inclination to examine into the
history of commerce. “What, no traditions!” he will exclaim. “Permit me to
call your attention once more, my friend, to the parable of the Good
Samaritan. Who was he, I should like to know, but a commercial traveller?
Everything points to it. He was travelling in oil and wine, why else
should he have had them with him? Notice his influence with the host of
the inn. He was evidently known there. He could give instructions and had
enough ready money to leave two denarii on his departure, with a reminder
that he would be coming again later on. Then, again, his broad-minded
sympathy, he was certainly no sectarian. Commercial travellers rarely are.
Their calling teaches them to be friendly to all sorts and conditions of
men. No traditions? History is full of incidents which show that the man
who travels with samples is as old as the hills.”

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century it was the bagman who
used the inn. Not a term of opprobrium this by any means. Think of the
immediate forerunner of the present-day commercial, sitting astride a
sturdy horse with a well-stocked bag on each side, facing all weathers,
negotiating all roads, and making a journey of a month or two at a time.
Not an altogether despicable figure this. There would be nothing squeamish
about his methods, perhaps; but he would be equally welcome to his
customers and mine host as a carrier of news or a purveyor of goods. He
travelled horseback because the roads he had to go over were not always
suitable for vehicles. It was not till Macadam that the light spring-cart
became an essential part of his equipment.

Long after the commencement of railways the commercial traveller was known
as a bagman. The _Daily Telegraph_, in the year 1865, seemed in doubt as
to whether its readers would recognize the more modern name without some
explanation, for it refers to “a traveler--I mean a bagman, not a
tourist--arriving with his samples at a provincial town.” At that time, of
course, commercial travellers were increasing in numbers; but inasmuch as
railways only connected up towns on certain routes, the light cart was
used constantly to go the round of outlying districts. Indeed, to-day,
there are commercial travellers who still use the older method of progress
for work in parts of counties where railway communication is poor and the
service of trains intermittent. The motor-car is also an occasional means
of conveyance for travellers. When first it was so used, tradesmen looked
askance at it as being likely to frighten the horses of carriage
customers.

The country inn began to cater specially for business men early in the
nineteenth century, and the establishment of the commercial room was the
ultimate result of the special accommodation which innkeepers offered to
travellers.

[Illustration: The “Fox and Pelican” Inn, Haslemere]

Let no unwary casual visitor, even to-day, imagine that all rooms except
the bedchambers of an inn in a country town are open to him. The
commercial room is a private apartment reserved for privileged
representatives of business concerns. A ritual has grown up which is
strictly observed by those whose right it is to make use of its many
conveniences. Notice the formality of greeting which a late comer extends
to the president of the table at the one o’clock dinner. “Mr. President,
may I be permitted to join you?” or “Mr. President, may I have the honour
of joining this company?” “With pleasure, sir.” The head of the table
invites the company to join him at wine. “Well, gentlemen, what do you
say to a bottle of sherry to begin with?” And later on--“Now gentlemen,
suppose we have a bottle of port.” Here is indicated a spaciousness of
life, a dignity and ease which the rapid pushful customs of to-day are
hustling into the past. But although the long wine dinners in the
commercial room, where every traveller was considered good for at least a
pint, are almost over, the ceremonial is still to a great extent kept up.
At one time not so long ago, a diner paid for his share of the wine
consumed whether he drank it or not; but the spread of teetotalism, the
establishment of Temperance Hotels and the gradual curtailment of the time
spent on dinner, as well as the keen competition which compelled every man
on the road to make as much of the afternoon as he did of the morning, led
to a freer personal liberty in the consumption of and payment for liquor.
Nowadays, a commercial traveller orders and pays for what he likes. There
is a generally understood rule that the traveller longest in the hotel
shall officiate as president, and should an entirely fresh set of arrivals
enter the commercial room at dinner-time, the first to come in takes the
head of the table as president, or chairman, as he is more commonly
called to-day. The custom of toasting the Sovereign at dinner, at one time
common, has now fallen into disuse. In places where the Sunday commercial
dinner is still an institution--return tickets on the railways at a single
fare, and express trains have largely done away with it--the old time
formalities are still kept up, for Sunday is a day which admits of plenty
of leisure and opportunity for ceremonial. Grace used to be pronounced by
the president, and a story goes that on one occasion--perchance on many
subsequent occasions--at a suggestion from one of the diners that Mr.
President should “now say grace,” the head of the table arose and
inquired, “Is there a clergyman present? No? Thank God,” and resumed his
seat.

One good custom which still survives and is likely to do so, is the penny
collection in the Commercial Room for the Commercial Travellers’ Schools
and the Commercial Travellers’ Benevolent Association. This collection is
taken daily at every dinner in the commercial room all over the country,
and it is largely from the proceeds that these institutions are supported.
A sidelight on custom may be observed in the fact that in many hotels now
the collection is taken at breakfast to ensure every traveller being
present. The midday dinner became less well attended, and this led to a
serious diminution in the receipts when once travellers began to use
restaurants and take advantage of local travelling facilities to visit
customers at some distance from headquarters. It is common for the
landlord of the inn to take charge of the money collected. The president
of the table enters the amount, divided into equal portions into two books
and fixes his initials, the proprietor of the establishment, on the annual
remittance to the Association, receiving a votes allotment which can be
utilized on behalf of any applicants for the privileges of the two
philanthropic bodies.

No one is permitted to smoke in the commercial room until after 9 p.m., a
rule which is observed far more strictly than those unacquainted by actual
experience with the traveller’s life might think. The custom of using
slippers of the inn, which indispensable “Boots” keeps often at his own
expense, is peculiar to the commercial room, though many travellers now
carry their own foot wear for the fireside with them. At the _Red
Horse_,[17] Stratford-on-Avon, “Boots” is credited with having as fine a
selection of comfortable slippers as is to be found in the kingdom.

Convenience for those who use the room led to the provision of a big table
in the centre, with small writing-tables round the walls. In old inns this
simple method of furnishing is still retained; but more pretentious
establishments now have a separate writing-room. Upon the landlord rests
the responsibility of providing many small details in equipment, such as
books of reference, time-tables, ink-stands, paper and pens. At the _Old
Steyne Hotel_, Brighton, the landlord--himself an old Commercial--even
goes to the length of providing an open box of penny and halfpenny stamps
which travellers may take from as they will, paying for what they use by
placing the money in another box which stands close by. Probably in no
other room of an inn could such a convenience be extended without abuse.
At the same hotel a special stand of well-selected canes is always kept
for travellers who may wish to use them in their walks of relaxation on
the front.

Beyond these small matters of detail of equipment the commercial room has
little of interest. Hear the description of the author of “The Ambassadors
of Commerce,” who prefaces what he has to say with the remark that “the
cosiness and comfort of the commercial room in the old-fashioned hotel are
by no means due to its architectural form, its size, ventilation, or
adaptation to its special purposes--most of them having none of these
requisites--but to its association,” etc.... “The room itself is not hung
with choice works of art in either oil or water colours.” We seem, by the
way, to have seen many a terrible old oleograph. “The proprietor being
more desirous of advertising noted whiskys and popular bitter ales, he
covers his walls with framed advertisements of these beverages. These,
with a coloured print of the Commercial Travellers’ Schools at Pinner, and
a notice of the dinner hour, complete the picture. Add to the same a dozen
or more half-dried overcoats, mackintoshes, whips, rugs, hats of all
conceivable shapes, and you have some idea of the ornamentations and fine
art decoration of an old-fashioned commercial room.” Not an altogether
unattractive picture either. It smacks of the old mid-Victorian times when
mahogany and horsehair were the chief stock in trade of the furnisher. A
day may come when this much abused combination of woodwork and upholstery
will be sought after. Stranger things have happened. Mahogany and
horsehair chairs and sofas are rapidly approaching that age limit beyond
which they will certainly become interesting, and one can see in
imagination the advertisements of the second-hand dealers who will
describe them as “genuinely old.” In that day many an old commercial room
will be made to yield up its treasures to the insatiable greed of
collectors. It is not uncommon, however, to find odd pieces of
eighteenth-century furniture in the travellers’ room to-day. We have come
across several old sideboards which were obviously of not later date than
Sheraton’s time, though in all probability the famous cabinet-maker had
but little to do with their origin.

It is the experience of most commercial travellers that the temperance
hotel, quite apart from the fact that it supplies no alcoholic liquors,
is only very rarely comparable to the fully-licensed house. Tradition may
have something to do with the comfort of the old inn, and temperance
hotels have no traditions whatever. Their inception was due to a protest,
and even to-day, with the temperance movement so well understood and
appreciated, the “hotels” which advertise themselves as being dogmatically
averse to a particular form of refreshment, more often than not seem
unable adequately to provide comforts about which there can be no question
whatever. We have known many temperance hotels which began with a flourish
of trumpets and a long list of influential patrons; a few years later they
had become slovenly, disreputable, and even in one or two cases, immoral.
An inn may have peculiarities, it may have character through history and
old associations, but one thing it should certainly never possess, and
that is a narrow shibboleth.



CHAPTER XVI

THE NEW INN AND ITS POSSIBILITIES


Whatever developments may be in store in the future will depend almost
entirely as to how far the licensing authorities and the various bodies
formed for the purpose of furthering the cause of temperance, to say
nothing of trade protection societies, can sink their differences and come
to some sort of understanding as to the best type of inn for public
convenience. Some temperance reformers have dreamt of a land without
public-houses, and even to-day it is not at all uncommon to hear a
lecturer in his enthusiasm for the cause of total abstinence express the
wish that every drop of intoxicating liquor in the country could be run
into the sewers to-morrow, and every public-house at the same time have
its shutters put up. Of course such a dream is impossible of fulfilment,
and by far the bulk of English people are heartily glad it is so. On the
other hand, there is a small body of opinion which thinks that
public-house licences should be dispensed with altogether, that anybody
should be permitted to sell intoxicating spirits if he thinks fit, and
that the removal of restriction would tend towards temperance. This also
is a condition of things which is not in the range of practical politics.

What, however, does seem a hopeful possibility is that a middle course
should become more generally accepted in the direction of improvement of
public-houses and their conduct, not for the sake of “the trade” on the
one hand, nor for the temperance societies on the other, but for the
benefit of the public. On the whole, the number of people, even in the
temperance ranks, who look upon the public-house as of the devil, to be
destroyed wherever possible, is very small, and it is also fair to say
that among publicans the attitude of mind which regards the possession of
a licence as merely permission to sell as much intoxicating liquor as
possible is becoming rarer every day. The trade has been forced, not
without some grumbling, to recognize tea as a form of liquid refreshment
which may legitimately be called for by the traveller; and although there
are still, in out of the way country districts, wayside inns where the
kettle never seems to boil, and, according to the veracious landlord, no
fire is ever kept up in the afternoon, it is usually easy to obtain tea on
demand in most licensed houses. What has led to this no doubt is the
discovery that tea may be provided at a profit.

Of late years traffic on the turnpike road has become thicker and thicker.
But the travellers of to-day are not those of a hundred or even fifty
years ago, any more than they are the pilgrims of the thirteenth century.
No use offering them strong ale for breakfast or rum punch at every halt.
As well might one hawk the metal charms which found such ready sale seven
hundred years ago on the great roads to holy shrines. The modern pilgrim
comes on motor-car and bicycle and the relic of his trip is the nimble
picture postcard. Of course, one must not forget that the country inn is
not entirely kept up as a convenience to travellers. It must minister
besides to the permanent residents of the neighbourhood. The regular
customer must be studied, and he has the comforts of home near by. He does
not appear to want them in the bar of the _Blue Lion_ or _George the
Fourth_. Sufficient for him if he find civility and an opportunity of
discussing a tankard of ale and a pipe in company with his friends. But
for all that, travellers continue to increase and the faster they go the
quicker they come.

A motorist or cyclist thinks nothing of an extra mile or two in search of
good cheer. This is a point which may well be commended to landlords of
inns which are not in the direct line of traffic. The number of people,
too, who take a positive pleasure in going out of their way to search for
unfrequented hostelries is on the increase. Motor-cars have to a great
extent driven cyclists on to the by-roads, and in planning a tour the
rider of the humbler machine will take any amount of trouble to avoid main
roads in his anxiety to avoid dust and obtain peace and quietness. This
tends to increase the popularity of half-forgotten inns in remoter
districts. Where a generation ago the advent of a traveller from a
distance was an event to be remembered, nowadays the ubiquitous motorist
and cyclist may turn up any moment. It is to the interest, therefore, of
rural innkeepers to study him.

Another fact to be remembered, is the increase in the number of lady
travellers on the roads, and ladies quite rightly will not stand any sort
of makeshift accommodation. Where a man will thankfully accept his pot of
beer and bread and cheese in an evil smelling bar parlour, a woman will
prefer to sit under a tree outside and do without refreshment until it can
be obtained in reasonable cleanliness and comfort. Women, as a rule,
travel under the protection of men, and depend upon their escort for the
discovery of nice places in which to take meals. Men, therefore, have to
find them, and many a little inn which might profit by frequent parties of
both sexes is passed by in favour of a more pretentious establishment
further on, not because the accommodation is not extensive and elaborate
at the smaller place, but because of lack of cleanliness, plain reasonable
fare, and some attention to the amenities of life.

Quite a small thing will turn a lady traveller against a wayside inn.
Those horrible, narrow swing doors, which are only too common, are quite
enough to make a woman decide against the inn which is so unfortunate as
to have them barring the only entrance. No man ever pushed through such
doors with dignity, and a woman feels instinctively that to struggle with
them involves almost a loss of self-respect. A woman likes to _enter_ a
house. She does not like to slip in furtively, and she feels, perhaps
unconsciously, that there is a hint of the surreptitious in these doors in
the way they open just wide enough on pressure and close again immediately
as if to hide a misdemeanour. No woman, either, will stand and drink even
the mildest of non-alcoholic liquors if she can possibly help it. She
prefers to sit down. The ordinary bar, therefore, has no attractions for
her. Even in a railway refreshment room, where hurry excuses most things,
a woman will only stand under compulsion. It is not that she really wants
to sit down through weariness, for she may have been sitting for hours in
a railway carriage. But she has an instinct for propriety and conduct. If
tea shops, which are so largely patronized by women, had a high bar like
public-houses, with as little sitting accommodation, as is often to be
found in licensed establishments, they could not possibly keep open. Why
it should be customary to stand up to drink a glass of beer and sit down
to take a cup of tea is a mystery.

Let us admit and welcome the efforts of the old Georgian coaching inns to
keep abreast of the times. Let us cheerfully accept the attempts of mine
host to put life into an old musty coffee-room and bar parlour.
Conservatism is not without value at the inn with a history, and the
landlord for his own sake must step warily. Let no iconoclast interfere
too violently with the worm-eaten glories of old oak and mahogany or seek
to disparage the solid virtues of the great round of beef, or the
appetising ingredients of the game pie. Tradition in such things is well
worth preserving.

But it is the licensed house which never had much of a history, which has
nothing interesting to preserve, whose justification for existence is
solely on account of its use to the community as a house of call, that so
often requires alteration. The new inn, moreover, the building itself,
erected here in the twentieth century for the accommodation of modern
people, must be as suitable for its purpose as the old coaching-house was
for the stiff, befuddled travellers who, a hundred years ago, alighted
from the “Royal Mail” or “Eclipse” for a much-needed night’s repose on
their journey to London. It is plain that people use the roads to-day
quite as much for pleasure as business. The railway takes the business man
from one end of England to the other, faster, cheaper, and more
comfortably than even the motor-car has yet achieved on the turnpike.
Relaxation from work means for many thousands a journey by road, and it is
in making suitable preparation for those who take their pleasure in this
way that the new inn should devote at least half of its energies. The time
may not be ripe in England for the adoption of the café system of the
Continent. Perhaps the climate is somewhat against it. But some
improvements, which a study of the French and German methods would
suggest, might easily be taken in hand. The argument of the old
teetotaller, not always expressed, perhaps, but certainly present, was
that the more uncomfortable and disreputable the public-house the less
temptation there would be to go into it. One can understand the point of
view as with an effort one can realise the horror of the Puritans for
anything in the form of an image in a Church. But people do not want
nowadays to use the inn as a place in which to get drunk; a drunken man,
to say nothing of a drunken woman, is a universal object of pity and
scorn. What is demanded is a wholesome, clean and pleasant place in which
to have something to eat and drink without being told by anyone, publican
or teetotaller, what form the refreshment shall take.

Herein is one of the reasons for the movement in favour of reformed
public-houses. The People’s Refreshment House Association, Ltd., which has
now over seventy public-houses under its management in different parts of
the country has shown how licensed premises may be improved and made to
pay at the same time. Proof of this is to be found in the balance-sheet of
the Association which has shown a regular annual payment of its maximum
dividend of five per cent. since 1899, with over £1,000 placed to reserve.
Of course, the Association is frankly a temperance body, but it would be
just as well if those people who shy at the idea of public-houses becoming
controlled by bigotry would consult the dictionary and discover for
themselves the real meaning of the word temperance. Having done so, they
will, perhaps, realise that in pursuit of moderation there is no reason
whatever why the interests of “the trade,” the reformer, and the public
should not be identical, for all these prefer the temperate man to the
drunkard. The fact that about 80 per cent. of the licensed houses of
England are tied to brewers should not stand in the way of improvement;
indeed, in some cases, particularly in the provision and upkeep of
suitable premises, brewers have done more than could possibly be
undertaken by private owners or the public-house Trusts of which, by the
way, there is one now in nearly every county. Without going into the many
vexed questions, most of which are matters for the trade alone,
surrounding the tied house, it may not unreasonably be hoped that the
brewer will see more and more in the future how his duty to the public and
his interests alike demand a broader and more enlightened policy than the
crude idea of monopoly of sale.

[Illustration: The “White Horse” Inn, Stetchworth, Newmarket]

Improvements, however, cannot be entered upon with much hope of success
without the sympathy of the licensing justices, and it is as much to be
desired that they should recognize that the public interest lies in the
direction of the reformed public-house as that the brewer should realise
that licensed premises are not solely to be run as drinking shops. The
restrictions in very many parts of England which have been put in the way
of improvements and extensions are absurd. Wherever specially free
facilities have been granted for the sale of intoxicating liquor--as at
the White City in 1908--nothing has resulted which in any way caused the
authorities to regret having trusted the public not to make beasts of
themselves. The Bill introduced by Lord Lamington in the House of Lords
crystallised the views of reformers, who desire to make the public-house
more attractive. It provided that licensing justices should not interfere
with the provision of accommodation for the supply of tea, coffee, cocoa,
or food; with the substitution of chairs and tables for bars; with the
provision of games, newspapers, music, or gardens, or any other means of
reasonable recreation. It also asked that the Licensing Bench should allow
the improvements of premises in the direction of making them more open and
airy than at present and more healthy generally. There are numerous cases
in which the action of justices in refusing to grant facilities for
improvement has been almost incomprehensible, and amply justified the
implied rebuke contained in the Bill. In London the continental café--or
rather an English adaptation of the idea--has been established with
success, and though the metropolis is commonly judged by other standards
than those of the countryside, the way in which the café has been received
seems to indicate not only the desire for freer and more enlightened
management, but also the possession by the public of sufficient moral
fibre to make use of the increased facilities temperately and in reason.

New inns have been erected in recent years--not many of them it is
true--with the object of supplying the wants of to-day in a liberal and
broad-minded way. Occasionally the assistance of architects of
acknowledged position has been enlisted in making the buildings themselves
more attractive and less vulgar than has been only too common, and if the
effect of environment upon morality and behaviour counts for anything
these new inns should be an improvement in every way upon the bulk of
those built at any rate during the Victorian period. The inn at Sandon, on
Lord Harrowby’s estate, may be mentioned as a case in point. The _Fox and
Pelican_ at Haslemere, the architects of which were Messrs. Read and
Macdonald, is another, which has, by the way, a sign painted by Mr. Walter
Crane. There is the _Skittles Inn_ at Letchworth, designed by Messrs. R.
Barry Parker, and Raymond Unwin. In this last instance the conditions
under which the building was erected were much easier than those which
commonly obtain in older settled districts, where many interests have to
be considered. At Garden City the question regarding the sale of alcoholic
liquors is one on which there is considerable divergence of view. About
the necessity for providing a well-designed and conducted house for the
general refreshment of travellers and as a centre for social intercourse
there would appear, however, to have been no doubt whatever. The
_Skittles_ is referred to here simply as a nicely-planned building of very
attractive appearance which seems to embody most of the improvements one
would wish to see in the design of modern inns. The architects have
contrived cleverly to combine the idea of the continental café and the
English country inn. The rooms are large and airy, there is plenty of
seating accommodation, and a billiard-room is one of the attractions.
There is an entire absence of ornamental decoration, a form of
embellishment which still continues to appear in nine out of every ten
newly equipped public-houses, in the country as well as in towns. Of
course, it is perfectly plain that with a new house of refreshment which
is not to hold a licence, anything may be done. Directly an architect is
commissioned to design a fully-licensed inn his difficulties commence. He
is hedged about by all sorts of restrictions. It is inconceivable,
however, that the cause of true temperance can be injured by the provision
of a good, convenient building for a licensed victualler’s trade, instead
of the vulgar atrocity which is so common.

It is not at all certain that the classification of compartments such as
saloon bar, private bar, public bar, tap-room, bar parlour, and so on, is
not out of harmony with modern requirements. No doubt this division has
its conveniences, in the same way that the three classes of compartments,
which some railway companies still keep up is found on the whole of
benefit. But, to take the café again as an illustration, there appears to
be no necessity there for such rigid distinctions, and many of the greater
railway companies have found no ill results from the total elimination of
at least second class. Some of the new tube railways have only one class,
and if one form of public convenience is found to answer without class
distinction, why not another?

Some of the new inns which have architectural character have been
disfigured by flaring advertisements. The licensed trade should know
whether publicity of this kind given to particular brands of ale and
spirits, on the whole contributes to the good of the house on which the
announcements are displayed; but there can be little doubt that one result
is to vulgarize the building. In cases where the landlord of the property
sets his face against advertising of this kind, the inn seems by contrast
to proclaim its respectability and on that account must attract some
custom, at all events. A very good building, as yet not spoilt by
advertisements, is the _Bell_, on the high road between the _Wake Arms_
and Epping, and another is the _White Horse_, Stetchworth, Newmarket,
which Mr. C. F. A. Voysey designed for Lord Ellesmere. The _Wheatsheaf_,
Loughton, is a new inn designed by Mr. Horace White, which is as yet free
from objectionable signboards, and is a very good type of building for the
smaller country public. There are also various good inns designed by Mr.
P. Morley Horder, in Gloucestershire, and _The George and Dragon_,
Castleton, erected some sixteen years ago, is a licensed house of
excellent design, by Mr. W. Edgar Wood.

For a model wayside inn of the smaller class, where the internal treatment
shows good taste with the utmost simplicity commend us to the _White
Hart_ at West Wickham. It replaces a very ancient wooden house which had
proved past repair, and is probably unique amongst modern inns in that it
is designed for the convenient drawing of all the malt liquors direct from
the wood. Another more ambitious house by the same architects (Messrs.
Berney & Son) at Elmers End, with an elaborate half-timbered front,
recalling Black Forest architecture, has anticipated the requirements of
the Children’s Act. The well-proportioned tea room is approached by a
colonnade at the side of the building and isolated from the bars.

Among brewers who have had the foresight to erect inns of better
accommodation and more pleasing design than most of those put up during
the latter part of last century are Messrs. Godsell & Co., of Stroud, an
example of whose houses we illustrate in the _Greyhound Inn_; and the
Stroud Brewery Co., whose _Prince Albert_ at Rodborough, Gloucestershire,
and the _Clothiers’ Arms_, are excellent specimens of the modern country
inn. These three were from the designs of Mr. P. Morley Horder. Good taste
is by no means lacking in some of the many houses owned by Messrs. Nalder
& Collyer, Ltd., in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. This firm have also restored
the old-fashioned type of signboards.

Other inns of recent date and of distinctive design are the _Red Lion_,
King’s Heath, Worcestershire, by Messrs. Bateman & Bateman; the _Wentworth
Arms_, Elmesthorpe, Leicestershire, by Mr. C. F. A. Voysey; the _George_,
Hayes, Kent, by Mr. Ernest Newton; the _Duck-in-the-Pond_, Harrow Weald,
by Mr. R. A. Briggs; the _Maynard Arms_, Bagworth, Leicester, by Messrs.
Everard & Pick; the remodelled _White Hart_ at Sonning-on-Thames, by Mr.
W. Campbell Jones; the _Dog and Doublet_, Sandon; the _Hundred House_,
Purslow, Shropshire (a modern reconstruction); the _Green Man_, Tunstall,
Suffolk; the _Old White House_ and the _Elm Tree_ at Oxford, by Mr. Henry
T. Hare; and various temperance inns, amongst which are the _Ossington
Coffee House_, Newark, by Messrs. Ernest George & Yeates; the _Bridge
Inn_, Port Sunlight, by Messrs. Grayson & Ould (now fully licensed); and
the Bournville Estate public-house, by Mr. W. Alexander Harvey. In London
two finely designed interiors are the _Coal Hole_, in the Strand, by Mr.
W. Colcutt, and the _Copt Hall_, in Copthall Avenue, by Mr. P. Morley
Horder.



CHAPTER XVII

INN FURNITURE


It will not come as any surprise to readers who have so far dipped with us
into the pages of the past, to learn that mediæval inns, and indeed those
of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, have very little to show
in the way of furniture. Our ancestors had far less done for them when
they put up for the night than we are accustomed to to-day in the most
primitive districts. Travellers did not even expect a bed. They were
thankful enough if they could get some sort of rough bedstead on which to
lay their own bed which they brought with them. Of course, these were
people of some means. Whenever Royalty travelled the train of waggons
required to convey furnishing equipment frequently extended to formidable
dimensions. On the other hand, the accumulation of wealth in the sixteenth
century soon began to raise the standard of furnishing at the inn, and a
diary kept by a Dutch physician named Levinus Lemnius, who made an
adventure into England during Elizabeth’s reign, is worth quoting as an
indication of the rapid improvement which was taking place. The good
doctor evidently had not been used to luxuries, for he says: “The neate
cleanliness, the exquisite fineness, the pleasaunte and delightful
furniture in every poynt for the household, wonderfully rejoyced me, their
nosegayes, finely entermingled with sundry sortes of fragreunte flowers in
their bedchambers and privy roomes with comfortable smell cheered mee up
and entirely delyghted all my sences.” He probably stayed at the best
hostelries which could be found, and it would be unwise to conclude that
all inns of the period had so many charms as those to which he refers.

One feature of the furnishing of old inns which adds not a little to the
picturesqueness of the interiors is the high-backed settle, with wings or
arms. This is universal all over England. It varies considerably in
different localities, for the local handicraftsman has worked according to
tradition, and he has also in most cases made the settle for a particular
place and to serve a special purpose. Of course, the original reason for
its design was to keep out draughts from the constantly opening door, and
this purpose is still strong enough to make the settle a very convenient,
not to say necessary, fixture in most inns, in spite of all sorts of
modern draught-excluding devices. It scarcely seems likely that the
high-backed settle will ever be entirely superseded. It is not
particularly comfortable according to present-day ideas of comfort in
seats, which seem to revolve round upholstery. But it is very clean. It
will not harbour dust, and if well made it will stand the assaults of time
for centuries. The old Elizabethan and Jacobean settles were extremely
heavy. It was evident in those days that sturdiness was inseparable from
strength, and considering the possible rough usage to which seats in the
inn might well on occasion be put, the heavy timbers of which they were
constructed seem to have been well advised. They very often had fine
carving, and were constructed with the seat forming a lid to the boxed-in
lower part. It was in the eighteenth century that settles became of little
account, and they were then plainly made by carpenters simply to serve a
useful purpose. There is a good example of a carved settle in the _Union
Inn_, Flyford Flavel, Worcestershire; and in many an old inn in
Berkshire, a county which has retained its ancient character perhaps more
than any other, are heavy old oak settles guarding the warm fireside. In
the tap-room of the _Green Dragon_, Combe St. Nicholas, near Chard, is a
settle finely carved of fifteenth-century origin. Judging by its character
it must at one time have been in some ecclesiastical building. The _Green
Dragon_ was monastic. The settle after a time developed into the fixed
partition, its back stretched up to the ceiling, and a door was placed at
the end, the partition being continued beyond to the opposite wall.
Considerations of light sometimes prevented this being carried out
entirely but a modern compromise was effected by glazing the screen above
the high settle back and putting glass panels in the door. The development
of the ingle-nook came about through chimney-corner and settle being
combined in one feature.

[Illustration: The “Woodman” Inn, Farnborough, Kent]

The settle in some form or other is the best possible seat for the inn,
particularly if space is limited. It might be pleasanter to have small
tables and chairs, but in many an old building there is only enough room
for a couple of long seats and a table. A long bench upon which people can
sit in a row side by side is the best seat in existence for saving
space. Light furniture is utterly unsuitable for inns. For one thing it is
usually nothing like strong enough, and even if it be it commits an
artistic sin in looking too fragile for its purpose. Take the respective
merits of the very many forms in which the old Windsor chair has been
made, and the modern bent-wood chair. Now the latter is without doubt the
strongest seat for its weight which has been invented in modern times. It
is one of the few successes in chair-making which can claim to be the
direct outcome of scientific methods. It has absolutely no ancestors
whatever, and can attach itself to no tradition. It is a bald product of
the application of science to furniture, and when the Austrian inventor
finally made it perfect he had achieved utility, nothing more, nothing
less. The bent-wood chair is in pretty nearly every concert hall in the
world. It has conquered completely the restaurants and cafés of the
Continent, and it is to be seen often in old inns of the English
countryside. Now, the last is a regrettable fact. The Austrian bent-wood
chair or settee looks positively effeminate in the country inn with its
thin polished legs, its slender-looking back, and perforated,
mechanically made seat. Something is called for of a greater weight of
timber, which shall look more in keeping with the building and more in
accordance with the solid unimpassioned, phlegmatic way of life of rural
districts. Let us have the chair or settle made by the village wheelwright
or carpenter, rather than the product of an Austrian factory.

But in the Windsor chair we have a type which can certainly compete with
bent-wood in strength if not in lightness. The Windsor chair, besides, is
capable of much greater variety of form than the Austrian production. It
has a tradition of its own and has as great a celebrity as its more modern
competitor. It is heavier and sturdier. It savours somewhat of the
kitchen, but although it cannot be regarded as the last word on art
craftsmanship, it is not altogether unpleasant to look upon, and is much
more comfortable in use than many a chair with greater pretensions to
artistic appearance. It is still made by hand and costs very little. In
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the smaller inns contained many
chairs, a few of which are still to be met with, simply made by the
village joiner on the lathe. They had plain wooden seats, and there was
very great diversity of “members” in the turned rails. They called for
comparatively little skill to make, and beyond their bare proportions
showed small ingenuity in making the form comfortable for the body.
Frequently they had rush seats. Within recent years chairs of this kind
have been sought for and made the base of many extremely interesting
seats, designed and constructed by modern craftsmen.

The oldest form of inn table is the trestle. It dates back to the Middle
Ages, and although nothing like so much used to-day, it still survives in
many an old tap-room. It was originally even a simpler affair than it is
now, being merely a board with movable trestles underneath. It could
readily be moved and pushed away if space were required on special
occasion. At the _Plough Inn_, Birdbrook, Essex, an old thatched house, is
a red brick floored tap-room which contains several fine trestle tables
and settles of simple design and perfect utility.

But the simple table, chair and settle, beyond which the public part of
the inns of the Middle Ages and the smaller alehouses for centuries were
unfurnished, except, perhaps, for a stool or backless bench, are nothing
compared with the splendid legacy of sixteenth and seventeenth-century
carved oak furniture still left to us in many of the historic hostelries
in the shires. Later enthusiasm in collecting has no doubt been
responsible for the fine specimens of furniture such as those to be seen
at the _Lygon Arms_, Broadway, Worcestershire, and it is extremely
difficult to say with certainty how many of the genuinely old pieces to be
found in other famous inns originally belonged to the building. There is
the _Feathers_, Ludlow, where in the beautiful old dining-room is a fine
collection of furniture, hardly in accord with the period of the ceiling,
the carved oak overmantel, and other permanent features of the room. The
Jacobean and Chippendale chairs are the result of enlightened purchase in
later days. One of the finest Jacobean staircases in an inn is that at the
_Red Lion_, Truro.

Very little furniture of the Renaissance period, from the Elizabethan
carved oak to the mahogany of the later eighteenth century, is peculiar to
inns. An exception is the bar, which, of course, was a fixture and part of
the inn structure. Our modern bar with its almost invariable ugliness, its
row of vertical handles for drawing beer, and its aggressive cash
register, is a poor survival of the Jacobean bar, an example of which is
still in existence at the _Maid’s Head_, Norwich. It is worthy of
recollection that the high stools which enable one to sit at a bar are
quite of modern origin. Bar lounging evidently did not become a habit
until the nineteenth century. People sat down and had their refreshments
at ease.

A table which was sometimes found in Jacobean inns of the larger and more
important kind was the one upon which the game of “shovel-board” was
played. “Shovel-board” tables were very long, sometimes even as much as
ten yards. They were about three feet or three feet six inches wide, and
the game played resembles in principle our own deck billiards. Indeed the
“shovel-board” table is thought to be the direct ancestor of the modern
billiard table, without which, of course, no inn of any size nowadays is
complete. The extreme vagueness of the early history of the game of
billiards, however, scarcely justifies any dogmatic statement as to its
relationship with “shovel-board.” A Charles II billiard table with a
wooden bed, cork cushions, and corkscrew legs is in the possession of Mr.
Robert Rushbrooke, of Rushbrooke, which seems to show that “shovel-board”
tables and billiard tables existed at the same time. This, however, does
not do away with the contention of those who assert that the modern game
was elaborated from the simpler pastime beloved of Henry VIII and Charles
II. The last long “shovel-board” table in an inn was definitely stated by
Strutt, in his “Sports and Pastimes of the People of England,” to be at “a
low public-house in Benjamin Street, Clerkenwell Green.” It was three feet
broad and thirty-nine feet long.

As “shovel-board” tables were very expensive pieces of furniture, it is
doubtful whether any but the most important inns ever had them. The game
was played frequently on tables of much smaller dimensions, and the name
of “shovel-board” is usually used nowadays to designate a particular form
of extending table with hidden leaves. The long Elizabethan and Jacobean
tables--rather mistakenly known as refectory tables--which stood on stout
turned legs connected by thick rails, were ideal boards for the old game.
At Penshurst are, at the present time, two of the finest specimens of long
trestle tables in the country. They date from the early fifteenth century
and measure twenty-seven feet long by three feet wide.

Innkeepers, of course, had to keep abreast of the times in the matter of
furnishing, and in the coaching era the old hostelries were furnished in
the latest and most approved fashion. Hence it is that the Georgian inns,
where they have not been denuded of their treasures by enterprising
collectors, or turned inside out by some unfortunately advised landlord
who preferred Victorian horsehair and mahogany, still contain many
interesting pieces of the time of Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Sheraton.
A warning may not be out of place to those who imagine that these famous
names applied to furniture really indicate that the cabinet-making was
done by the craftsmen themselves. Without unimpeachable documentary
evidence, it is utterly impossible to ascribe any fine piece of mahogany
to any one of the three great cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century.
The names indicate nowadays certain periods which are fairly definitely
fixed, and certain easily recognizable styles of work. In many an old inn
you will see in the coffee-room or commercial room side tables, dining
tables, card tables, chairs, settees, mirrors, long-case clocks, bureaux,
and corner cupboards which may typify any or all of the great periods of
the eighteenth century, and it is quite likely that down in the hall or in
the corridors and kitchen you will discover specimens of Jacobean chests,
gate-leg tables, dressers, a “bread-and-cheese” cupboard, perhaps, and
other relics of even an earlier age. The fact was, of course, that pieces
of furniture were bought as they were required, and when an inn had a
history running well into two centuries it would have been remarkable
indeed if a heterogeneous collection had not been got together. It is only
the modern craze for collecting which has robbed the inn of so many of its
treasures. The experts will tell you that the fact of a piece of furniture
being old is no guarantee whatever of its worth, excepting whatever value
may be attached to mere length of years. A joiner in the country, say in
Shropshire or Yorkshire, might not make a piece of furniture for mine host
of the _Chequers_ or _Blue Lion_ as well or in such good taste as would
the first-class cabinet-makers of London. It is quite likely that he would
invest it with some local character, and if this is well preserved in the
piece it has its worth on this account alone. But country made
Chippendale, Heppelwhite, or Sheraton furniture, although charming enough,
has rarely any exceptional value. Wherever the contents of a large country
house was offered for sale, the innkeeper as a man of some substance would
buy, and it is this fact which explains in some cases the finds of really
valuable furniture which have been made at old inns.

[Illustration: The “Wheatsheaf” Inn, Loughton, Essex]

The sort of advertisement--common enough then as now--which attracted
local competition can be realised by the following, from the _Kentish
Gazette_ of September 21st, 1790, which announced the sale in the Isle of
Thanet of:

    “All the genuine _Household Furniture_, comprising bedsteads with
    marine and other furniture, fine goose feather beds, blankets, etc.,
    mahogany wardrobes, chest of drawers, ditto dressing tables, mahogany
    press, bedsteads, with green check furniture; mahogany escritoire;
    ditto writing table with drawers; ditto dining and Pembroke tables;
    library table with steps; mahogany and other chairs; pier glasses and
    girandoles, in carved and gilt frames; a neat sofa; an exceeding good
    eight-day clock; Wilton and other carpets; register and Bath stoves;
    kitchen range; smoke-jack and other useful kitchen furniture; two
    large brewing-coppers, exceedingly good brewing utensils, and other
    effects.”

This was the sale of the property of a man of quality. It is probable from
the description that the furniture was comparatively new at that time.
The Pembroke table, the mahogany escritoire, the pier glasses and
girandoles and other items were plainly eighteenth century. The enumerated
articles would no doubt be the most attractive pieces in the sale. Whether
there was any old oak or not cannot be ascertained from the advertisement,
but it is quite likely, for it would never be quoted, being thought at
that time of no value. The catalogues of such sales were always left with
the chief innkeepers of the neighbourhood, and to the innkeeper came any
likely buyers who would discuss the mansion and its contents. Foreign
competition in the way of dealers from London, was not to be feared in
those days, and the “neat sofa” and “exceeding good eight-day clock” were
quite as likely to find their way to the coaching inn as to any of the
prosperous farmhouses in the neighbourhood.

A fairly common fixture in old inns was the angle cupboard. It was usually
not a separate piece of furniture, but was fitted into the angle of the
wall. It takes up little space, and was convenient for the storage of
crockery.

There is a famous angle cupboard at the _New Inn_, New Romney.

The bedchambers of the old coaching inns had as an inevitable feature the
four-posters, now, by the way, again coming into fashion. These bedsteads
were not always fine in design by any means. The turning of the posts was
often quite clumsy enough, but they were never so hideous as the tester
beds of the nineteenth century. The prettiest bed-posts were those of the
latter half of the Georgian period, and Heppelwhite in particular is
credited with the design of some of the most charming. As to drapery,
which all good chambermaids kept spotless and clean, the following
suggestion from Heppelwhite’s own book may be quoted.

“It may be executed of almost any stuff which the loom produces. White
dimity, plain or corded, is peculiarly applicable for the furniture,
which, with a fringe with a gymp head, produces an effect of elegance and
neatness truly agreeable.” He goes on to say: “The Manchester stuffs have
been wrought into bed furniture with good success. Printed cottons and
linens are also very suitable, the elegance and variety of patterns of
which afford as much scope for taste, elegance and simplicity as the most
lively fancy can wish. In general the lining to these kinds of furniture
is a plain white cotton. To furniture of a dark pattern a green silk
lining may be used with good effect.”

This description gives a very fair idea of the way in which beds were
draped about a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago. Of course, the
word “furniture” in the above quotation is an old name for the hangings.
It is used in the sense that hangings furnished the bed.

Tall-boys were found in the old inn bedroom, the corner washstand with its
blue and white crockery, and one of those small loose mirrors (far too
small for the modern beauty) with three little drawers underneath. It is
quite common in any country inn nowadays to meet with these simple
furnishings, though the four-poster has given way in many instances to
cheap “black and brass” or “all-black” bedsteads of the age of mechanical
ingenuity, and instead of a bed of goose-down you shall lie on wool over
that really very comfortable rascal the wire mattress. The immortal
Jingle, who surely puts into four words more philosophy on the subject of
a good inn than anyone else in fiction, summed up everything when he
remarked, “Good house; nice beds.”

The day should not be far distant when the new inn, not large fashionable
hotels, will seek to furnish in some better way than by the purchase of
heavy and ornate cast-iron tables with marble tops for the saloon bar,
with utterly unsuitable saddle-bag suites for the parlour, with flashing
mirrors everywhere, and ornamental crockery, palm stands of dubious
origin, and gilt leather papers as decorative enrichments.

However much influence the Arts and Crafts movement has had in the
furnishing of the domestic dwelling, it has left practically untouched the
house which belongs of right to the public. There are craftsmen, however,
many of them, whose furniture seems as if it were designed specially for
the country inn, yet it is doubtful whether one was ever commissioned to
supply the equipment which would give such character and charm to the
modern licensed house. Some of the pieces of furniture, such as plain
straightforward oaken drawers, benches, chairs, sturdy tables, cupboards
and the like which have for many years been exhibited by members of the
Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, would be infinitely more suitable in
the inn than anywhere else. It is not apparently lack of money which
makes those who furnish inns anew look to the modern and often hideous
productions of commerce for their furniture. It would seem to be rather
lack of knowledge or taste. No publican exists but wants to make his house
attractive; but, except occasional advice about the preservation of the
character of old inns by the retention of what old furniture there may be
and the purchase of other pieces in a style suitable to the building,
there would appear to be no influence whatever to prevent refurnishing in
a manner which suggests too often an attempt to reproduce a railway hotel
in miniature. At the moment the most accessible good furniture for the new
inns is to be found in the modern reproductions of well-known styles which
are to be purchased through the ordinary commercial channels and at
commercial prices. It is the commonest experience to go into a country inn
of undeniable architectural charm, even if the attraction be merely that
it seems a simple homely looking building and nothing else, and to find
inside furnishing as bad or worse than that of the cheap lodging-house.
Now the inn should be a cut above that. It should not be too much to
expect a little simplicity in furnishing. It is the attempt to
elaborate which usually results in such artistic disaster. We have in
memory many a little public-house, whose parlour is so small as to
prohibit the slightest effort at decorative detail, and others--obscure
alehouses some of them--where obviously there is not the wherewithal to
provide up-to-date splendours, and in these instances the plain, honest
benches, the trestle tables, the Windsor chairs and homely dresser
constitute an interior which could scarcely be improved. There being no
chance to elaborate, well has fortunately been left alone.

[Illustration: The “Skittles” Inn, Letchworth, Herts]



CHAPTER XVIII

THE INNKEEPER

  “A seemly man our Hosté was withal.
   For to have been a marshall in a hall.
   A largé man he was with eyen stepe,
   A fairer burgess is there none in Chepe;
   Bold of his speech and wise, and well-y-taught
   And of manhood him lackedé right naught.
   Like thereto he was right a merry man.”


A model to all innkeepers was Our Hosté of the _Tabard_; a born leader of
men, quick to understand each man’s individualities, and full of kindly
sympathy for all. Ready of wit, he was ever careful to remove the sting
before it could rankle. A man of education, he could adapt himself to his
company and be skilful in devices for their comfort and recreation. Not
least of his many qualifications as a landlord was his presence of mind in
averting disputes by a judicious change of the subject.

We no longer send innkeepers to Parliament, nor do members of Parliament,
as a rule, undertake the personal superintendence of hotels, as they
often did in the fourteenth century. But the type of innkeeper portrayed
as Harry Bailey of the _Tabard_, in Southwark, is by no means extinct. You
may find him if you search well under many an old gable or Queen Anne
cornice--sometimes even in a smart new red-brick hotel. Nor is he lacking
on the great ancient trade routes that run right through Europe--not even
in those establishments recommended by Baedeker or Bradshaw--though the
new races of purse-proud tourists and Cook’s excursionists are fast
expelling him in favour of the servile and mercenary business manager. In
a humbler way, the village and wayside inns contain good men and true who
follow in the footsteps of Harry Bailey. Such inns, often kept by retired
tradesmen, blacksmiths or farmers, are a boon and a blessing to the
neighbourhood. They are not only a centre of recreation for the village
labourer; they tend also to educate and uplift him, ridiculous as the
assertion may seem to those who have never put on an old coat and tramped
through the by-ways into Arcady.

Diverse and sundry are the concerns in which the village innkeeper is
called upon to give advice. He is the arbitrator in disputes, he solves
weighty problems of rural etiquette. He knows the inner secrets of every
home and can weigh the respective merits of his clientele to a nicety. To
him it is that each one comes for help in trouble, social or financial,
and his charity is given irrespective of politics or creed, given
considerately as becomes a man of affairs, and without stint. The parish
clergy know him as a valuable ally, and it is not unusual to find him
acting as churchwarden. Nay, only the other day we saw a procession headed
by the worthy village publican carrying the cross, and a manful and
decorous crossbearer he proved himself.

It is surprising what good fellows innkeepers generally are, when one
considers all the difficulties surrounding their occupation. They are the
legitimate prey of every tax and rate collector. We know of one
middle-class beerhouse where the rent charged by the brewers is only £50 a
year, but which is rated at more than double that amount. The innkeeper,
for the purpose of taxation, is merged in the licensed victualler. He is
told that his business of selling fermented liquors is a valuable
monopoly, and a very heavy licensed duty is exacted for the privilege. Yet
he is expected to view with equanimity the dozens of bottles of beer,
wine and spirits passing his door in the trucks of the grocer, who by
virtue of a nominal licence can easily undersell him. Long after the hour
when he is bound by law to close, he hears the shouts of the bibulous in
the neighbouring political club; on Sunday mornings he sees a procession
of jugs and bottles issuing from this same untaxed establishment.
Blackmailed by the police, and spied upon by the hirelings of all kinds of
busybody societies, he goes to the Brewster Sessions in each year in fear
and trembling. The licensing justices must by law have no interest
whatever either in a brewery or a licensed house of any description, but
they may be, and frequently are, teetotallers. Every other subject of his
Majesty is entitled to plead his cause before his peers. The licensed
victualler, alone of all Englishmen since the days of Magna Charta, has to
submit to be tried by enemies who have sworn his ruin.

How we all love to see, on the stage, at least, if not in real life,
jovial, hearty old souls like Mine Host who entertained Falstaff at the
_Garter_, or old Will Boniface (first landlord to be so dubbed) of the
_Beaux Stratagem_. It is disappointing that Farquhar was such a wronghead
dramatist as to make all his interesting characters vicious. We cannot
believe this fat and pompous host with a wholesome faith in the virtues of
his brew could really have been a scoundrel or capable of conspiring with
footpads. No! Julius Cæsar was a better judge of fat human nature than
Farquhar! Depend upon it, Boniface slept after his potations the sleep of
an honest man. Just listen to him:

    Sir, you shall taste my Anno Domini, I have lived in Lichfield, man
    and boy, above eight-and-fifty years, and I believe have not consumed
    eight-and-fifty ounces of meat.

    _Aimwell._ At a meal, you mean, if one may guess your sense by your
    bulk.

    _Boniface._ Not in my life, Sir; I have fed purely upon ale; I have
    ate my ale, drank my ale, and I always sleep upon ale.

    _Enter tapster with a Tankard._

    Now, sir, you shall see; your worship’s health; Ha! delicious,
    delicious--fancy it Burgundy, only fancy it, and ’tis worth ten
    shillings a quart.

    _Aimwell_ (_drinks_). ’Tis confounded strong.

    _Boniface._ Strong! It must be so; or how would we be strong that
    drink it?

Hawthorne tried hard to find Mr. Boniface’s inn at Lichfield, but in vain.
He had to content himself with the _Black Swan_, once owned by Dr.
Johnson. Farquhar was careful not to indicate the particular inn referred
to, if it ever existed there. Not that the dramatists in bygone days lived
in fear of a libel action. Witness a farce by J. M. Morton, in which Mrs.
Fidget, the landlady of the _Dolphin_ at Portsmouth, is most cruelly
pilloried for her dishonesty and meanness. In “Naval Engagements” Charles
Dance portrays Mr. Short of the _Fountain_ in the same town as a scurvy
impudent rascal, taking advantage of customers who had spent the night not
wisely nor too well, to charge them for an unordered and unserved
breakfast. Short’s sanctimonious morality and his devices to detain
customers in a hurry, so that they are compelled to stay in the inn for
dinner, are a valuable humorous element of this play.

Fielding’s innkeepers are all exquisitely drawn, with the lifelike touches
of a fine student of human nature in its infinite variety. We love best of
all the host of that inn where Parson Adams met the braggart, untruthful
squire who offered him a fine living and endless other benefits without
the slightest intention of fulfilling his promises. Mine Host stands by
chuckling inwardly at the good jest when the squire undertakes to defray
the bill for the lodging and entertainment of the party. Nor does he lose
his good-humour when he finds next morning the joke turned against himself
and that the worthy curate has not a farthing in his purse.

“Trust you, master? that I will with all my heart. I honour the clergy too
much to deny trusting one of them for such a trifle; besides, I like your
fear of never paying me. I have lost many a debt in my lifetime; but was
promised to be paid them all in a very short time. I will score this
reckoning for the novelty of it; it is the first, I do assure you, of its
kind. But what say you, master, shall we have t’other pot before we part?
It will waste but a little chalk more; and, if you never pay me a
shilling, the loss will not ruin me.”

By way of contrast we are given the termagant Mrs. Tow-wouse, whose
ill-temper and selfish grasping ways were always counteracting her
easy-going spouse’s mild attempts in the direction of generosity:

“Mrs. Tow-wouse had given no utterance to the sweetness of her temper.
Nature had taken such pains in her countenance, that Hogarth himself never
gave more expression to a picture. Her person was short, thin, and
crooked; her forehead projected in the middle and thence descended in a
declivity to the top of her nose, which was sharp and red, and would have
hung over her lips, had not Nature turned up the end of it; her lips were
two bits of skin, which, whenever she spoke, she drew together in a purse;
her chin was peaked; and at the upper end of that skin which composed her
cheeks, stood two bones, that almost hid a pair of small red eyes. Add to
this a voice most wonderfully adapted to the sentiments it was to convey,
being both loud and hoarse.”

Surely such a picture is worthy of being beside Skelton’s description of
the frowsy ale wife of Leatherhead.

Dean Swift encountered a lady of the same contrary nature at the _Three
Crosses_, on the road between Dunchurch and Daventry. He left his opinion
of his hostess on one of the windows:

          “To the Landlord.
  There hang three crosses at thy door,
  Hang up thy wife and she’ll make four.”

And here we may be permitted to introduce an adventure of our own. A party
of three, we were engaged on a walk across the Dunes, near Nieuport, and
had lost our way. Flemish was the language of the district, and this in
its spoken form was a sealed book to all three. By and by we came to a
little roadside estaminet which we entered, and in correct exercise-book
French inquired the nearest way to Furnes. The proprietor replied by
placing before us three large glasses of the local beverage. It was a hot,
dusty day, we were thirsty and the beer light and harmless. So we drank it
and then again inquired the way to Furnes. For answer our glasses were
forthwith refilled. When we shook our heads in dissent, the obliging
caterer brought out in turn every different kind of bottle and brand of
cigar and cigarette the establishment could muster. It was no good. We did
not wish to drink or smoke.

He was perplexed and sat down for a few moments to scratch his head and
ponder over the puzzling problem. At last he decided to do what many wiser
men before have done when in a quandary: he called his wife. Maybe female
intuition might pierce into these mysteries where dull reason vainly
groped in darkness.

She came, pink and rosy as some glorious dawn, tripping as lightly as a
forty-eight inch waist and a weight somewhere near fourteen stone would
permit. After darting a scornful glance at her lord and master she turned
to us with a sweet smile. We asked in Parisian tongue the nearest way to
Furnes. In a trice she placed before us three pint glasses of Flemish
white beer. We manifested our disapproval very strongly; we did not want
any beer, and her husband watched and smoked his pipe with a cynical grin
as she brought us, in vain, the bottles and various other articles from
the shelves.

Then a brilliant idea occurred to one of the trio. After all, the Flemish
language is only a dialect of German! So in truly classic German he
inquired of the puzzled dame--Would she kindly tell us the nearest way to
Furnes?

A bright smile of intelligence illumined her features. She understood now
exactly what we wanted, and popping into the kitchen behind, she soon
returned with three steaming plates full of most delicious hotch-potch
soup. There were haricots, lentils, cabbage stumps, garlic, chicken bones,
sausages and other articles unidentified in that soup. But it was
appetising; we remembered that we were hungry from a long walk and sat
down and absorbed it with a good-will.

That woman, we know for certain, became our devoted friend from the
moment. She will never forget us. She demurred very strongly to our paying
anything for the refreshment, and tried hard to force three more pints of
that terribly mild beer on us before we left. Not only had we appreciated
her cooking at its fullest value--we had also proved her abilities as a
cosmopolitan woman of business--and, depend upon it, the fact has been
rubbed into her partner in life many times since then!

But of worthy, buxom good-tempered landladies there is always a plentiful
supply, faithful and true in the defence of their friends, like the good
widow McCandlish in “Guy Mannering,” or beneficent fairies, ready to
adjust the difficulties of eloping young couples and their several
guardians with the delicacy and tact of a Mrs. Bartick.[18] The fair sex
have usually all the business qualities for the conduct of a good inn, and
when with these are conjoined kindness of disposition the traveller is
blest indeed.

Once upon a time, so tradition hath it--there was a barmaid in a
Westminster tavern who married her master. After his death, she
continued to carry on the business, and had occasion to seek the advice of
a lawyer named Hyde. Mr. Hyde wooed and married her. Then Hyde became Lord
Chancellor and was ennobled as Lord Clarendon. Their daughter married the
Duke of York, and was the mother of Mary and Anne Stewart. So the landlady
of an inn became the grandmother of two queens. Most history books are
content to describe Lord Clarendon’s second wife as the daughter of Sir
Thomas Aylesbury; but the supporters of the traditional view maintain that
this was an invention of the Court Party.

[Illustration: The Recreation Room in the “Skittles” Inn, Letchworth]

We have not yet encountered an innkeeper exactly of the same type as old
John Willet, of the _Maypole_ at Chigwell, that “burly large-headed man
with a fat face, which betokened profound obstinacy and slowness of
apprehension, combined with a very strong reliance upon his own merits.”
We meet occasionally in other walks of life these small-minded individuals
whom chance has endowed with pride of place and the opportunity to
tyrannize over all around them. Like the sovereign owner of the ancient
hostelry with its “huge zigzag chimneys and more gable ends than a lazy
man would care to count on a sunny day,” not to speak of its diamond-pane
lattices and its ceilings blackened by the hand of time and heavy with
massive beams, they imagine that their reign will endure to the end. Is
there in all literature a more pathetic piece of writing than that in
which Charles Dickens depicts the humiliation of John Willet, when the
Gordon rioters invade the _Maypole_, and the fallen tyrant finds himself
“sitting down in an armchair and watching the destruction of his property,
as if it were some queer play or entertainment of an astonishing and
stupefying nature, but having no reference to himself--that he could make
out--at all?”

Innkeepers have been reckoned among the poets. John Taylor, the “Water
Poet,” so called because he commenced life as a waterman, and because so
many of his voluminous works deal with aquatic matters, kept a tavern in
Phœnix Alley, Longacre. Being a faithful royalist he set up the sign of
the _Mourning Crown_ over his house to express his sorrow at the tragic
death of Charles I, but was compelled by the Parliament to take it down.
He replaced it with his own portrait and the following lines:

  “There is many a head hangs for a sign;
   Then, gentle reader, why not mine?”

The episode is commemorated in a rhyming pamphlet issued by him at the
same time:

  “My signe was once a _Crowne_, but now it is
   Changed by a sudden metamorphosis.
   The Crowne was taken downe, and in the stead
   Is placed John Taylor’s or the _Poet’s Head_.”

Of Taylor’s works, the mere enumeration of which occupies eight closely
printed pages in “Lownde’s Bibliographer’s Manual,” the best known are his
“Prayse of Cleane Linen,” and “The Pennyless Pilgrimage,” descriptive of a
journey on foot from London to Edinburgh, “not carrying any money to and
fro, neither begging, borrowing or asking meat, drink or lodging.” In
1620, he made a similar journey from London to Prague, and published an
account of it.

Scarcely less eminent in his way was Ned Ward, the “Publican Poet,”
immortalised in the “Dunciad.” His works are scurrilous and coarse, yet
not to be despised by students of London topography in the reign of Queen
Anne. His writings in the _London Spy_ describe the London taverns and
inns of his day, and he produced several imitations of Butler’s
“Hudibras,” including a versified translation of “Don Quixote,” and
“Hudibras Redivivus.” The latter work obtained for its author the
privilege of standing twice in the pillory and of paying a fine of forty
marks. His inn stood in Woodbridge Street, Clerkenwell, and his poetical
invitation to customers includes a reference to the Red Bull Theatre,
close by, made famous by Shakespeare and Edward Alleyn, the founder of
Dulwich College:

  “There on that ancient, venerable ground,
   Where Shakespeare in heroic buskins trod,
   Within a good old fabrick may be found
   Celestial liquors, fit to charm a god.”

Very different was the side in politics favoured by Sam House, “the
patriotic publican.” Apprenticed as a brewhouse cooper, his active
industrious habits enabled him, when only twenty-five years of age, to
lease an inn at the corner of Peter Street, Wardour Street, Soho, called
the _Gravel Pits_, which name he changed to the _Intrepid Fox_, or _The
Cap of Liberty_. In 1763 he very warmly espoused the cause of John Wilkes,
and sold his beer at threepence a pot in honour of the champion of
freedom. Of unflinching political integrity, Sam House was in most
respects a well-meaning, good-hearted man, with but one reprehensible
vice--a habit of swearing most horribly, no matter what the company. Many
are the unprintable anecdotes related with regard to this failing, when
the most exalted personages were conversing with him. Another eccentric
feature of his character was illustrated when he had laid a wager with a
young man to race him in Oxford Road. Just when his victory seemed
assured, a mischievous wag in the crowd suddenly shouted, “D----n Fox and
all his friends, say I!” Forthwith Sam forgot all about his race, and
regardless of protests from his backers, turned round and administered a
sound drubbing to the blasphemer. This gave great amusement to the
spectators, but meanwhile his rival had passed the winning-post. Sam
cheerfully paid the penalty, consoling himself that he had lost the race
in a good cause, while avenging an insult to his political idol.



CHAPTER XIX

PUBLIC-HOUSE REFORM


“Nothing suits worse with vice than want of sense,” remarked Sir Harry
Wilding in the “Constant Couple.” For vice we might read benevolence and
find the maxim equally appropriate. Good judgment is especially needful in
that kind of philanthropy so much in vogue at the present time, wherein
one class of the community interests itself in improving the condition of
another class with which it is imperfectly acquainted.

Take, for instance, the housing of the working classes. A committee of
maiden ladies meet together and engage the services of some clever young
architect. The local landowner finds the funds, and very soon a row of
cottages has been built of dainty picturesque appearance, and everything
inside them equally lovely. The sanitation is of the latest, the rooms are
light and airy. All sorts of clever devices are introduced to economize
space, nice cupboards, economical cooking stoves with every appliance to
delight the housewife, and even a bath artfully hidden beneath a
trap-door just in front of the kitchen fire. There is even high art
decoration approved by the Kyrle Society. In short, these cottages would
be a joy and a treasure if only the ungrateful labourer would consent to
leave his insanitary hovel and come and take up his abode therein. He
emphatically declines to do so because they contain no “best room.”

The committee of maiden ladies are very indignant at the idea of the
working man insisting on his best room, an apartment which remains
hermetically closed from week-end to week-end, reserved only as a shrine
for the family Bible and for the reception of a few highly-favoured
visitors. He ought, they contend, to be satisfied with the big airy
living-room, specially designed for his family, and has no business to
complain that his little heirlooms will be at the mercy of inquisitive and
mischievous children. But it will be a bad day for England when the “best
room” disappears from the artisan’s home. It is by long tradition his
castle, his secret keep, the innermost temple of his religion. Every
patriotic instinct of the poor man has its centre within that little
stuffy apartment. Home to the working man means the best room. The safety
of the best room justifies all the national expenditure on a standing army
and a huge navy. In the defence of that best room he is prepared to send
his sons to lay their bones in some nameless soldier’s grave in the most
distant corner of the empire. Take away the best room and the wage-earner
has no home worth either working for or fighting for. He becomes an
atheist, an anarchist, and a general outcast.

A similar lack of appreciation of human nature is shown by certain
philanthropists in dealing with the use by working men of the public-house
as a place of resort. How much better, they urge, if the workman would
spend his time in more intellectual surroundings--in reading rooms,
popular lectures or entertainments, Christian endeavour societies, etc.,
etc. And so they exert all their influence over licensing justices, the
police and other authorities, inciting them to make the public-house as
uncomfortable as possible; with the result that a series of very
undesirable institutions having all the worst qualities of the gin palace,
without its publicity or proper means of supervision, are coming into
existence. Penny readings, lectures, and other religious or educational
centres are well enough in their way; but the man of few home resources
yearns for the gossip of the alehouse. Only there can he find what the
soul of every human being longs for, the company of his own kind, and
recreation and amusement which he himself can assist in supplying.

Still, if it is to continue, the public-house must be reformed and
improved in some way to satisfy the national conscience. And a book of
this kind seems to be incomplete unless it contains some suggestions as to
the direction in which reform ought to proceed.

In the first place, we would urge the inexpediency of any further
legislation. Anybody, who as a parish worker or as an employer of labour
has interested himself in a model public-house, will agree with us in
this. No other institution in the country is so hopelessly law-ridden and
police-ridden. We might make an exception in the case of the licence
itself. All taxation of alcoholic liquors should be direct and should be
levied at the fountain head--whether distiller, brewer or importer. The
licence for retailing such liquors should be a moderate and fixed amount
like all other licences. Why the publican should be penalised at so high
a rate, when the grocer, whose annual sales often exceed those of all the
public-houses in the district combined, is let off with a nominal sum,
passes all comprehension.

To impose a high licence on the hotel or tavern-keeper is, in the opinion
of those who have studied the subject carefully, a mistake both
economically and morally. First, because a large and increasing portion of
his sales consists in wares which the outside dealer supplies without the
necessity of either tax or licence. Secondly, there is a serious
temptation offered to the publican to recoup the high expenditure on his
licence by inducing his customers to drink. And it is most important that
men of the highest character and responsibility should be encouraged to
take office as innkeepers and publicans. This can hardly be the case while
the high licence adds so seriously to the amount of unremunerative capital
required for embarking in the business. No other trade is handicapped by
such an iniquitous impost.

We must not, of course, shirk that ugly word, “monopoly value,” introduced
by the Licensing Act of 1902. But it is a monopoly of dwindling value
riddled by half a dozen competing agencies and minimised by all sorts of
vexatious restrictions. Sunday trading is not a desirable thing, but a
visit to any favourite suburban resort on Sunday morning reveals a state
of affairs only to be paralleled in Gilbertian comic opera. Tobacconists,
sweet-stuff shops, tea gardens and enterprising Italian caterers are all
doing a roaring trade without let or hindrance. Meanwhile the “Licensed
Victualler,” who pays so high a price for his “monopoly” as a purveyor of
refreshments, is compelled on pain of extinction to keep his doors bolted
and barred against all but the few hardy souls who have accomplished the
Sabbath Day’s journey.

There is an underworld in the drink trade. Provincial allotment holders
never seem to lack a good supply of the national beverage on Sunday
mornings; it does not flow from the local alehouse. Quarterns of gin and
whisky are obtainable in London from some unknown sources at all hours of
the night. One of the authors, associated for many years with a famous
church in the poorer districts of central London, made some astonishing
discoveries with regard to this illicit drink traffic. Most of it is the
direct outcome of the oppressive one-sided licensing laws.

On the liquor question itself, we would suggest that the tax on beer
should be graduated, and a comparatively light duty be imposed on beer
guaranted to be brewed entirely from malt and hops, and containing only
the small proportion of alcohol necessary to carry the phosphates--say not
more than four per cent. We believe that the revenue would not ultimately
lose much by this concession, while the result of its general adoption as
a beverage would be highly beneficial. No better preventative could be
imagined against nervous depression, the great curse of modern life, and
the real cause of the drink and drug-taking habits--than a revival of the
good old English mild ale such as our forefathers brewed in the
pre-reformation Church Houses.

We have already referred to the work of the Public Refreshment House
Association, and much good is bound to result from the efforts of this
body in improving the status of the public-house. Its methods and the
rules laid down for the management of the houses under its control are
worthy of all praise. The foresight and self-denial of its directorate
are especially commendable, in that the society seeks to co-operate in the
formation of separate county trusts, rather than to aggrandize itself by
acquiring an unlimited number of licences. The danger of a gigantic trust,
as of a national monopoly, would be that enormous power might, in the
second generation, fall into the hands of an ambitious and tyrannical
central staff. One fear only we have with regard to the P.R.H.A. Its
establishments are so attractive and altogether so desirable, that like
all philanthropic efforts they will end by benefiting a higher class than
was at first intended. The lady cyclist and the weekender will avail
themselves of their advantages rather than the rural labourer. And we hope
that the wise authorities at headquarters will guard against this
difficulty by encouraging games, and providing magazines for the users of
the tap-room.

A worthy country cleric of our acquaintance takes exception to the
preferential commission which the Association allows to its local managers
in order to push the sale of temperance drinks. He urges that no
temperance drink has hitherto been invented which is either thirst
quenching or wholesome. The tea and coffee habit would end by making the
villager as neurotic as his cockney cousin. Aerated waters, flavoured with
narcotic drugs and saturated with gaseous mineral carbonic dioxide, put a
severe strain on the action of the heart; fruit syrups are doctored with
nerve-destroying formaline to prevent natural fermentation. Even the
popular ginger beer and ginger ale are not unimpeachable. Ginger is a drug
injurious to the coating of the stomach; and in some modern brands the
more poisonous capsicum is employed as a cheaper substitute.

But on general grounds, we think this encouragement of temperance drinks
is altogether a judicious move. The public-house exists for the benefit
and use of all classes and sections of the community; the teetotaller has
as much right there as anybody else, and it is desirable that he should
exercise that right as frequently as possible. The popular idea that the
tavern is only a place for the consumption of certain alcoholic drinks
must be dispelled; such liquors have to be on sale there merely because a
large majority of Englishmen habitually desire them as beverages, and it
is not the duty of those in charge to decide whether they shall, or shall
not, continue to do so. Wine, beer and spirits are an essential part,
but still only one department of the tavern-keeper’s business.

[Illustration: The “Bell” Inn, Bell Common, Epping]

Village trusts have been introduced with success in some rural districts.
A body of trustees is elected by the whole parish for a term of years, on
much the same lines as the Parish Council. Management on a democratic
basis has its good points, if only the natives can be roused to take a
keen interest in the subject. But all these revolutionary displacements of
“the trade” are unnecessary. The good conduct of the public-house depends
not so much on those who manage it as on those who habitually use it, and
on the growth of a healthy national appreciation of its value. If only men
of good-will made it a rule to visit from time to time the various
licensed houses of the neighbourhood, their very presence would be a
wonderful help to the cause of morality. A good understanding with the
landlord should be established, and then suggestions for the improvement
of the house quietly and considerately discussed with him. We know of
parish priests who, facing sneers about “Beer and Bible,” have pursued
this course, and their efforts have brought blessing and reward. But it
must be understood that all genuine progress is slow. The _Public_-house
is not so much the moulder as the index of public morals; and any violent
attempts at reforming it are as absurd as to manipulate a barometer with a
view to improving the weather.

In a recent speech the Bishop of Birmingham cited as his ideal of the
public-house, an establishment in Barcelona which he had visited several
times, and which struck him as being specially delightful. He described it
as an immense room in which there must have been about a thousand people.
They were of all classes; a good many of them were artisans who wore their
blouses, and they were there with their wives and children constantly.
They were drinking all sorts of things--beer, wine, tea, coffee, or milk,
and some of them were drinking a peculiar compound of a kind of pink
colour, the nature of which he was not able to ascertain through an
imperfect knowledge of the language. There was rather a good band, but one
could not hear it much because all were talking and laughing and making
themselves extremely agreeable to one another. He asked himself every time
he went there--Was not that type of place of public resort, public
refreshment, and public amusement entirely desirable? He had been there
on Sundays and week-days, and he never felt that he had seen or heard
anything that was not entirely desirable. Every time he went there--and he
could find the same thing in other countries and cities--he said to
himself: What was there in the nature of things why we could not have
exactly this kind of place of public amusement and recreation--this kind
of public-house with regard to which they would not feel the slightest
desire for any legislation to restrict the opportunity of women or
children or of anybody else going into it?

There are several public-houses in England where the presence of an
enlightened thinker like Dr. Gore would be welcomed. One in particular
occurs to us as we write--the _Ship_ at Ospringe, near Faversham. The
climate of the Swale marshes will not admit of a hall to contain over a
thousand people, but here there is a room which on Saturday nights might
contain any number up to a hundred and fifty. There is no band--the police
would speedily interfere at the first trumpet blare; nor any
children--thanks to a recent Act of Parliament. But his lordship would
find a happy good-humoured company, young men and old, wives and
sweethearts, some drinking beer, some lemonade, young girls eating their
supper of bread and cheese or fish, all engaged in merry converse, or
listening with uncritical good-nature to songs and recitations provided by
such among their number as are inclined to oblige. If a pianist happens to
turn up, so much the better; otherwise the vocalist does his best without
accompaniment. All is homely and hearty. We have visited the _Ship_ many
times and never perceived any signs of objectionable conduct. If it lacks
any of the advantages of its Barcelona rival, we must blame the law and
the licensing authorities--certainly not the institution.

In Spain, as in Germany, the inn or the tavern is regarded as an essential
element of civic life, not as a place to be discouraged and despised. A
century or two ago all good and respectable Britons avoided the theatre,
and the drama in England became a byword for immorality and
licentiousness. A better spirit arose; churchmen and ladies of refinement
interested themselves in the theatre; the ban was removed, and now we can
take our sisters, cousins and aunts to see an English play without fear of
incurring their reproaches. Perchance, also, a new era may await the
public-house, and its value as an educative and steadying influence on the
democracy will be understood.

[Illustration: Angel Inn, Woolhampton]

We live in the midst of a period when great revolutionary changes are
impending. Never before has the struggle for existence among the masses
been so keenly felt, or the cruel differences of opportunity of rich and
poor so widely ventilated. Class privilege and hereditary endowment seem
alike destined for the melting-pot. What will emerge none can tell. We
have shown how in previous ages, whenever there were great political or
social changes, the tavern played its part. Within the doors of the
public-house all men are brethren. There alone class can meet class and
discuss their difficulties freely and even dispassionately. Society has
too long left the lower orders to estimate the advantage of culture from
its Tony Lumpkins. It is a great opportunity. The venerable house of call,
bequeathed to us by the ages, beckons all to come within its kindly
shelter, out of the storms of class hatred and political prejudice.
Churlish and short-sighted indeed will those be who reject the invitation.

For, after all, the old antiquary whom we met with in the chapter on the
Church Inns was right. The keynote of the public-house and its true
purpose in life is Christian Charity. Charity which suffereth long and is
kind, bearing all things, envying not, nor believing any evil; and without
which we are nothing. The greatest thing in Earth or Heaven.

[Illustration]



INDEX


  _Acland Arms_, Exmoor, 188

  Addington, _Angel_, 23

  _Albion_, South Norwood, 131

  Alfriston, _Star_, 24, 201

  _Anchor_, Hartfield, 78, 142

  ---- Liphook, 133

  _Angel_, Addington, 23

  ---- Basingstoke, 23

  ---- Bury St. Edmunds, 23

  ---- Grantham, 23

  ---- Guildford, 23

  ---- Islington, 24

  ---- Theale, 175

  ---- Woolhampton, 285

  _Antelope_, Godalming, 116

  Ashbourne, _Green Man and Black’s Head_, 171

  Ash Vale, _Swan_, 143

  Aylesbury, _George_, 159

  ---- _King’s Head_, 59, 195


  Bagworth, _Maynard Arms_, 236

  Barking, _Bull_, 18, 22

  Barley, _Fox and Hounds_, 165

  _Barley Mow_, Hartford, 79

  Basingstoke, _Angel_, 23

  Battersea, _Falcon_, 122

  _Bear_, Chelsham, 174

  ---- Maidenhead, 126

  ---- Southwark, 20

  ---- Wantage, 174

  _Bear and Ragged Staff_, Cumnor, 124

  _Bee Hive_, Grantham, 168

  _Bell_, Edenbridge, 171

  ---- Edmonton, 154

  ---- Epping, 234

  ---- Finedon, 77

  ---- Westminster, 77

  ---- Warwick Lane, 77

  Bermondsey, _Simon the Tanner_, 61

  Bettws-y-Coed, _Royal Oak_, 157

  Birdbrook, _Plough_, 243

  _Bird in Hand_, Bromley, 139

  _Bishop Blaise_, New Inn Yard, 61

  _Black Bear_, Devizes, 151

  _Black Lion_, Walsingham, 115, 151

  _Black Swan_, Lichfield, 260

  Bletchingley, _White Hart_, 146

  _Blue Boar_, Leicester, 117

  _Blue Cap_, Sandiway, 140

  _Book in Hand_, Mabelthorpe, 166

  _Bournville Public House_, 236

  Bracknell, _Hind’s Head_, 187

  Brentford, _Three Pigeons_, 153

  Brentwood, _White Hart_, 41, 42, 199

  _Bricklayers’ Arms_, Caxton, 61

  _Bridge Inn_, Port Sunlight, 236

  Brighton, _Old Steyne_, 216

  Broadway, _Lygon Arms_, 244

  _Bull_, Barking, 18, 22

  ---- Coventry, 133

  ---- Dartford, 18, 87

  ---- Long Melford, 21, 87, 197

  ---- Malling, 18

  ---- Newington, 19

  ---- Reading, 19

  ---- Rochester, 22, 204

  ---- St. Albans, 21

  ---- Sudbury, 198

  ---- Theale, 18

  ---- Woodbridge, 150

  _Bull and Bush_, Hampstead, 148

  _Bull and Mouth_, St. Martins le Grand, 82, 127

  Bury St. Edmunds, _Angel_, 23


  _Cæsar’s Head_, Great Palace Yard, 112

  Canterbury, _Chequers_, 106

  ---- _Falstaff_, 152

  ---- _Fountain_, 1

  _Castle_, Hurst, 75

  ---- Marlborough, 91

  Castleton, _George and Dragon_, 234

  Caxton, _Bricklayers’ Arms_, 61

  ---- _George_, 86

  Chelsham, _Bear_, 174

  _Chequers_, Canterbury, 106

  ---- Doddington, 107

  ---- Loose, 107

  ---- St. Albans, 107

  ---- Slapestones, 110

  Chester, _King Edgar_, 112

  Chiddingfold, _Crown_, 208

  Chigwell, _King’s Head_, 158

  Clare, _Swan_, 175

  _Clothiers’ Arms_, Stroud, 235

  _Coach and Horses_, Westminster, 86

  _Coal Hole_, Strand, 236

  _Cock_, Fleet Street, 24

  _Cock and Bell_, Romford, 79

  _Cock and Tabard_, Westminster, 23

  Colnbrook, _Ostrich_, 37, 188

  Combe St. Nicholas, _Green Dragon_, 240

  _Copt Hall_, London, E.C., 236

  Coventry, _Bull_, 133

  _Crown_, Chiddingfold, 208

  ---- Dartford, 126

  ---- Hempstead, 151

  ---- Ospringe, 37

  ---- Rochester, 1

  ---- Shipton-under-Wychwood, 199

  _Crown and Treaty_, Uxbridge, 133

  Cumnor, _Bear and Ragged Staff_, 124


  Dartford, _Bull_, 18, 87

  ---- _Crown_, 126

  Derby, _Dolphin_, 100

  Derby, _Nottingham Castle_, 99

  Devizes, _Black Bear_, 151

  Doddington, _Chequers_, 107

  _Dog and Doublet_, Sandon, 236

  _Dolphin_, Derby, 100

  ---- Portsmouth, 261

  Dorking, _White Horse_, 26

  ---- _Gun_, 123

  _Dorset Arms_, Withyham, 107

  _Duck in the Pond_, Harrow Weald, 236

  _Duke of Wellington_, High Beech, 178


  Edenbridge, _Bell_, 171

  Edmonton, _Bell_, 154

  _Elephant and Castle_, London, S.E., 64, 163

  _Elm Tree_, Oxford, 236

  Elmers’ End, _William IV_, 235

  Elmesthorpe, _Wentworth Arms_, 236

  Enfield, _King James and the Tinker_, 126

  Epping, _Bell_, 234


  _Falcon_, Battersea, 122

  _Falstaff_, Canterbury, 152

  ---- Gad’s Hill, 152

  ---- Newington, 153

  Farnham, _Jolly Farmer_, 151

  Faversham, _Fleur de Lis_, 123

  _Feathers_, Ludlow, 204, 244

  Feering, _Sun_, 199

  Felstead, _Swan_, 51, 75

  _Fighting Cocks_, St. Albans, 2

  Finedon, _Bell_, 77

  _First and Last_, Sennen, 162

  Fittleworth, _Old Swan_, 158

  _Five Alls_, Marlborough, 176

  _Fleur de Lis_, Faversham, 123

  Flyford Flavel, _Union_, 239

  _Fountain_, Canterbury, 1

  ---- Portsmouth, 261

  _Four Swans_, Waltham Cross, 171

  _Fox and Hounds_, Barley, 165

  _Fox and Pelican_, Haslemere, 231


  _George_, Aylesbury, 159

  ---- Caxton, 86

  ---- Glastonbury, 39, 199

  ---- Hayes, 158, 236

  ---- Huntingdon, 78

  ---- Rochester, 37

  ---- St. Albans, 39

  ---- Southwark, 87

  ---- Winchester, 54

  ---- Wymondham, 39

  _George and Dragon_, Castleton, 234

  ---- Wargrave, 158

  _General Wolfe_, Westerham, 131, 180

  _Gipsy Queen_, Norwood, 131

  Glastonbury, _George_, 39, 199

  Gloucester, _New Inn_, 32, 87, 199

  _Goat House_, Norwood, 206

  Godalming, _Antelope_, 116

  ---- _King’s Arms_, 10

  ---- _Three Lions_, 11

  Godstone, _Clayton Arms_, 208

  _Golden Fleece_, South Weald, 63

  _Golden Lion_, St. Ives, 87

  _Green Dragon_, Combe St. Nicholas, 240

  _Green Man_, Croydon, Dulwich, Leytonstone, 65

  ---- Tunstall, 236

  _Green Man and Black’s Head_, Ashbourne, 171

  Grantham, _Angel_, 23

  ---- _Beehive_, 168

  ---- _Blue Inns_, 168

  _Greyhound_, Strand, 235

  Guildford, _Angel_, 23

  ---- _White Hart_, 41

  ---- _White Lion_, 117

  _Gun_, Dorking, 123


  _Half Brick_, Worthing, 169

  Hampton-on-Thames, _Red Lion_, 114

  Harrow Weald, _Duck in the Pond_, 236

  Hartfield, _Anchor_, 78, 142

  Haslemere, _Fox and Pelican_, 231

  Hawkhurst, _Queen’s Hotel_, 142

  Hemel Hempstead, _King’s Arms_, x

  Hempstead, _Crown_, 151

  Henley-in-Arden, _White Swan_, 154

  Henley-on-Thames, _Red Lion_, 154

  Hereford, _Raven_, 151

  High Beech, _Duke of Wellington_, 178

  High Easter, _Punch Bowl_, 74, 76

  _Hind’s Head_, Bracknell, 187

  _Hole in the Wall_, Borough, 169

  ---- Waterloo Station, 169

  Hollingbourne, _Windmill_, 179

  _Holy Blaise_, Kidderminster, 61

  _Honest Miller_, Wye, 168

  _Horse and Groom_, Waltham St. Lawrence, 136

  _Hundred House_, Purslow, 236

  Huntingdon, _George_, 78, 87

  ---- _Queen’s Head_, 79

  Hurst, _Castle_, 75


  _Isaac Walton_, Ashbourne, 144

  Islington, _Angel_, 24

  ---- _Pied Bull_, 120

  ---- _Queen’s Head_, 120

  ---- _Sir Hugh Middleton_, 120


  _Jack of Newbury_, Reading, 131

  _Jack Straw’s Castle_, Hampstead, 126

  _Jolly Farmer_, Farnham, 151

  _Jolly Sailor_, South Norwood, 131


  Kelvedon, _Wheatsheaf_, 151

  _Kentish Drovers_, Old Kent Road, 177

  _King Edgar_, Chester, 112

  _King James and the Tinker_, Enfield, 126

  _King’s Arms_, Godalming, 10

  ---- Hemel Hempstead, x

  _King’s Head_, Aylesbury, 59, 195

  ---- Chigwell, 158

  ---- Roehampton, 118

  King’s Heath, _Red Lion_, 236

  Kingsbury, _Plough_, 109

  Kidderminster, _Holy Blaise_, 61


  _Lamb_, Eastbourne, 77

  _Lamb and Anchor_, Bristol, 78

  _Lamb and Flag_, Brighton, 78

  ---- Sudbury, Swindon, 78

  Leicester, _Blue Boar_, 117

  Lichfield, _Black Swan_, 261

  Lickfold, _Three Horseshoes_, 108

  Lincoln, _Reindeer_, 138

  Liphook, _Anchor_, 133

  _Lisle Castle_, Chalk, Gravesend, 208

  Long Melford, _Bull_, 21, 87, 197

  Loose, _Chequers_, 107

  Loughton, _Wheatsheaf_, 234

  Ludlow, _Feathers_, 204, 244

  Lurgashall, _Noah’s Ark_, 207

  _Lygon Arms_, Broadway, 244


  Mabelthorpe, _Book in Hand_, 166

  Maidenhead, _Bear_, 126

  _Maid’s Head_, Norwich, 202, 245

  Maidstone, _Nelson_, 129

  Malling, _Bull_, 18

  Manchester, _Seven Stars_, 1

  Marlborough, _Castle_, 91

  ---- _Five Alls_, 176

  _Marquis of Granby_, Deptford, 145

  ---- Epsom, 128

  Martlesham, _Red Lion_, 174

  _Maynard Arms_, Bagworth, 236

  Midhurst, _Spread Eagle_, 7

  _Monster_, Pimlico, 161


  _Nelson_, Maidstone, 129

  Newark, _Ossington_, 236

  ---- _Saracen’s Head_, 1

  Newington, _Bull_, 19

  ---- _Falstaff_, 153

  _New Inn_, Gloucester, 32, 87, 199

  ---- New Romney, 250

  _Noah’s Ark_, Lurgashall, 207

  Norwich, _Maid’s Head_, 202, 245

  Norwood, _Gipsy Queen_, 131

  ---- _Goat House_, 206

  ---- Nautical Inns, 131

  _Nottingham Castle_, Derby, 99

  Nottingham, _Ram_, 1


  _Old Red House_, nr. Newmarket, 79

  _Old Steyne_, Brighton, 216

  _Old White House_, Oxford, 236

  _Ossington_, Newark, 236

  Ospringe, _Crown_, 37

  ---- _Ship_, 37

  _Ostrich_, Colnbrook, 37, 188

  Oxford, _Elm Tree_, 236

  ---- _Old White House_, 236

  _Oxford Arms_, Warwick Lane, 83


  Papworth Everard, _Three Horse Shoes_, 108

  _Pelican_, Speen, 125

  _Pied Bull_, Islington, 120

  Pleshy, _White Horse_, 98

  _Plough_, Birdbrook, 243

  ---- Kingsbury, 109

  ---- Smallfield, 208

  ---- Upper Dicker, 109

  Plumbley, _Smoker_, 141

  Portsmouth, _Dolphin_, 261

  ---- _Fountain_, 261

  Port Sunlight, _Bridge Inn_, 236

  _Prince Albert_, Rodborough, 235

  _Punch Bowl_, High Easter, 74, 76

  Purslow, _Hundred House_, 236


  _Queen’s Head_, Huntingdon, 79

  ---- Islington, 120

  _Queen’s Hotel_, Hawkhurst, 142


  _Ram_, Nottingham, 1

  _Raven_, Hereford, 151

  Reading, _Bull_, 19

  Redbourne, _Chequers_, 107

  _Red House_, Stratford-on-Avon, 216

  _Red Lion_, Hampton-on-Thames, 114, 148

  ---- Henley, 154

  ---- King’s Heath, 236

  ---- Martlesham, 174

  ---- Sittingbourne, 114

  ---- Speldhurst, 114

  ---- Truro, 244

  ---- Wingham, 113, 195

  _Reformation_, Reading, 169

  _Reindeer_, Lincoln, 138

  Rochester, _Bull_, 22, 204

  ---- _George_, 37

  Rodborough, _Prince Albert_, 235

  Roehampton, _King’s Head_, 118

  Romford, _Cock and Bell_, 79

  _Rose_, Wokingham, 94

  _Rose and Crown_, Sudbury, 204

  _Royal Oak_, Bettws-y-Coed, 157

  _Running Horse_, Sandling, 141


  Saffron Walden, _Sun_, 174

  St. Albans, _Bull_, 21

  ---- _Chequers_, 107

  ---- _Fighting Cocks_, 2

  ---- _George_, 39

  ---- _White Hart_, 85

  _St. Anna’s Castle_, Great Leighs, 165

  Sandiway, _Blue Cap_, 140

  Sandon, _Dog and Doublet_, 236

  _Saracen’s Head_, Newark, 1

  Scole, _White Hart_, 172

  Sennen, _First and Last_, 162

  _Seven Stars_, Manchester, 1

  Shefford, _Swan_, 174

  _Ship_, Norwood, 131

  ---- Ospringe, 37, 283

  ---- Wingham, 194

  Shipton-under-Wychwood, _Crown_, 199

  _Sieve_, Minories, E.C., 164

  _Simon the Tanner_, Bermondsey, 61

  _Sir Hugh Middleton_, Islington, 132

  Sittingbourne, _Red Lion_, 114

  _Skittles_, Letchworth, 231

  Slapestones, _Chequers_, 110

  Smallfield, _Plough_, 208

  _Smoker_, Plumbley, 141

  Sonning, _White Hart_, 236

  South Weald, _Golden Fleece_, 63

  Speen, _Pelican_, 125

  Speldhurst, _Red Lion_, 114

  _Spread Eagle_, Midhurst, 7

  _Spital_, Stanmore, 189

  _Star_, Alfriston, 24, 201

  ---- Great Yarmouth, 204

  _Star and Garter_, Brighton, 155

  Stratford-on-Avon, _Red Horse_, 216

  Strand, _Clothiers’ Arms_, _Greyhound_, 235

  _Swan_, Ash Vale, 143

  ---- Clare, 175

  ---- Felstead, 51, 75

  ---- Fittleworth, 158

  ---- Grasmere, 158

  ---- Shefford, 174

  ---- Sutton Valence, 116

  ---- Tarporley, 140

  _Swan and Maiden Head_, Stratford-on-Avon, 152

  Sudbury, _Bull_, 19, 198

  ---- _Rose and Crown_, 204

  _Sun_, Feering, 199

  ---- Saffron Walden, 174

  Sutton Valence, _Swan_, 116


  _Tabard_, Southwark, 25

  Tarporley, _Swan_, 140

  _Ten Bells_, Leeds, Kent, 179

  Theale, _Angel_, 175

  _Three Crosses_, nr. Daventry, 263

  _Three Frogs_, Wokingham, 123

  _Three Horseshoes_, Lickfold, 108

  ---- Papworth Everard, 108

  _Three Lions_, Godalming, 11

  _Three Pigeons_, Brentford, 153

  _Tiger_, Lindfield, 7

  Truro, _Red Lion_, 244

  Tunstall, _Green Man_, 236

  _Turpin’s Cave_, High Beech, 170


  _Unicorn_, Weobley, 121

  _Union_, Flyford Flavel, 239

  Upper Dicker, _Plough_, 109

  Uxbridge, _Crown and Treaty_, 133


  Walsingham, _Black Lion_, 115, 151

  Waltham Cross, _Four Swans_, 171

  Wantage, _Bear_, 174

  _Warbolt-in-Tun_, Warbleton, 167

  Warlingham, _White Lion_, 145, 208

  Weobly, _Unicorn_, 121

  _Wentworth Arms_, Elmsthorpe, 236

  Westerham, _General Wolfe_, 132

  Westminster, _Cock and Tabard_, 23

  ---- _Coach and Horses_, 86

  West Wickham, _White Hart_, 235

  _Wheatsheaf_, Kelvedon, 151

  _Wheatsheaf_, Loughton, 234

  ---- Bletchingley, 146

  _White Hart_, Borough, 176

  ---- Brentwood, 41, 199

  ---- Godalming, 117

  ---- Godstone, 208

  ---- Guildford, 41

  ---- St. Albans, 85

  ---- Scole, 172

  ---- Sonning, 236

  ---- West Wickham, 235

  ---- Witham, 89, 176

  _White Horse_, Dorking, 26

  ---- Kensington, 148

  ---- Pleshy, 98

  _White Lion_, Bristol, 117

  ---- Guildford, 117

  ---- Warlingham, 145

  _White Swan_, Henley-in-Arden, 154
    (See also _Swan_)

  _William IV_, Elmers’ End, 235

  Winchester, _George_, 54

  _Windmill_, Hollingbourne, 179

  Wingham, _Red Lion_, 113, 195

  ---- _Ship_, 194

  Witham, _White Hart_, 89, 176

  Withyham, _Dorset Arms_, 107

  Wokingham, _Rose_, 94

  ---- _Three Frogs_, 123

  Woodbridge, _Bull_, 150

  Wye, _Honest Miller_, 168

  Wymondham, _Green Dragon_, 39


  Yarmouth, _Star_, 204


THE END


_Press of Isaac Pitman & Sons, Bath, England._



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Parker’s “Manor of Aylesbury,” 14.

[2] “Paston Letters,” III, 304.

[3] See also J. J. Jusserand. “English Wayfaring Life,” p. 342.

[4] J. R. Green. “Town Life in the Fifteenth Century,” I, 55.

[5] At the _George Inn_, Winchester, in Elizabeth’s reign, the charge for
a feather bed for one night was one penny; for a dinner of “Beef, mutton,
or pigge,” sixpence.

[6] “All at Coventry.” By W. T. Montcrieff.

[7] Green. “Town Life in the Fifteenth Century,” II, 126.

[8] “Burnet’s Own Times,” II, 426.

[9] MS. 10. E. IV.

[10] “Piers the Plowman.” Text B., Passus V.; Text C., Passus VII.

[11] Literally “Harbourers.” Compare the French _Auberge_.

[12] “History of Signboards,” II, 45.

[13] Charles Lamb, who delighted in the old _Queen’s Head_, suggests that
the liquid was not water but “Black Jack.”

[14] “Twelfth Night”; Act III, Sc. 3.

[15] Some of the rival establishments at Colnbrook contend that the above
honours belong to them, and not to the _Ostrich_.

[16] “About Yorkshire.”

[17] Larwood and Hotten, in “The History of Signboards,” state that the
sign of the _Red Horse_ in their day was almost extinct. Longfellow’s
description of “The Wayside Inn” contains the lines:

  “And half effaced by rain and shine,
   The red horse prances on the sign.”

[18] “Three Deep; or All on the Wing.” A once favourite farcical play by
Joseph Lunn.





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