The English pub


A bit of history

The pub is a time-honoured English institution. The word pub derives from the phrase public house, a drinking establishment. Its origins an be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation of Britain. The Romans established a network of tabernae, or inns. After the Romans left, the Anglo-Saxons took up the baton with their alehouses.

Country pubs

A pub lunch a country pub is one of my favourite things to do in England. There is at least one pub in every village, if not more. They are usually found close to the village green and have tables outside in the garden in summer. The building itself is generally one or two centuries old or even more.  Low ceilings, wood beams, lots of wood, carpeted floors and an ancient fireplace set the country pub apart.  It is not unusual to see photos of the pub in decades past or of the village cricket or rugby teams adorning the walls. The country pub is the local social centre.

Wood beams, a blackboard menu, antiques on the walls”]

Royal Oak: After the Battle of Worcester (1651) in the English Civil War, the defeated Prince Charles escaped the scene with the Roundheads on his tail. He managed to reach Bishops Wood in Staffordshire, where he found an oak tree (now known as the Boscobel Oak near Boscobel House). He climbed the tree and hid in it for a day while his obviously short-sighted pursuers strolled around under the tree looking for him. The hunters gave up, Prince Charles came down and escaped to France (the Escape of Charles II). He became King Charles II on the Restoration of the Monarchy. To celebrate this good fortune, 29 May (Charles' birthday) was declared Royal Oak Day and the pub name remembers this. (Source: Wikipedia)

This round is on me

Let’s imagine you’re thirsty and, in the words of my dear husband, could murder a pint. You drive to the pub, park the car outside -if you’re lucky (parking lots are generally tiny), wipe your shoes on a wet day so as not to leave mud stains on the carpet and go to the bar. Order a pint of beer or ale or stout (if you’re like me, you’ll most likely order a pint of cider), maybe some pork scratchings or peanuts to nibble on and find somewhere to sit. Don’t worry if you forgot to tip the landlord or barmaid, it’s not customary (as far as I know.) .

Pub fare

Now on to the food. Nowadays, you can find all sorts of high-end, elaborate dishes, especially in gastropubs. Personally, I prefer classics like steak and ale pie, steak and kidney pudding, bangers (sausages) and mash, shepherd’s pie, sandwiches. You order and pay for the food at the bar and they’ll bring it to the table.My all time favourites are Welsh rarebit (who can say no to melted cheese?) and ploughman’s lunch, both as a meal and in sandwich form.

Welsh rarebit

(Cheddar) Ploughman's lunch

What’s in a name

Many pubs around the country share the same name although they are not connected in any way. Historically, pubs had a sign with the name and a pictorial representation for the illiterate. Modern pubs keep that tradition. Names can refer to anything from heraldry and historical events to religion and royalty.

White Hart: The livery badge of King Richard II of England. It became so popular as an inn sign in his reign that it was adopted by many later inns and taverns. Richard II introduced legislation compelling public houses to display a sign, and at one time the White Hart was so ubiquitous as to become almost generic. (Source: Wikipedia)”]

9 responses to “The English pub

  1. I love the atmosphere at an old English pub. I’m not a fan of beer, but I learned that I do enjoy a nice pint of English cider! I think Strongbow was my favorite.

    Your food photos are very enticing. I’d kill for a wedge of English cheddar right about now!

    • Beer gives me headache but cider doesn’t :) I alternate between apple and pear cider.
      There’s nothing like English cheddar!

  2. Following on from reading about Pisa, I came across your reference to English pubs. When we were courting, my wife to be used to tell me that the only thing that she could cook was Welsh rarebit. I chose not to believe her; 60 years on, I know that she was and is far more capable.

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