Self-guided walk of Old Portsmouth

I have been to Portsmouth before, on a previous visit to my in-laws. They live half-way between London and the south coast, so it’s easy for me to jump on the train and head south to Portsmouth for a day out. I’ve been to the Historic Dockyards but this time round, I visited the old town and saw a different aspect of this interesting city by the sea.

The main attraction of the city of Portsmouth is the Historic Dockyards, where visitors can see such iconic ships as Nelson’s HMS Victory or the remains of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ship. However, there is more to Portsmouth than the Dockyards and the Spinnaker Tower.

I’m going to share what I saw and learned on my walk from the Portsmouth & Southsea railway station (1) to the seafront.

Portsmouth & Southsea station opened on 14 June 1847
Portsmouth & Southsea station opened on 14 June 1847

As I left the station, I turned left and walked under the railway bridge towards the Guildhall. The imposing building is now used as an entertainment and conference venue. Across the plaza from the Guildhall is the City Council, a concrete eyesore in my opinion.

The interior and roof of the Guildhall were destroyed in the 1941 air raid. The walls and tower suffered great damage. It was rebuilt and reopened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.
The interior and roof of the Guildhall were destroyed in the 1941 air raid. The walls and tower suffered great damage. It was rebuilt and reopened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.

Farther on, the conspicuous Isambard Kingdom Brunel pub marks the start of the Guildhall Walk. Along the street, shops, more pubs, people going about their business, a vampire or two. Wait! What? It was Halloween and some people wore costumes all day. The New Theatre Royal, a pretty Victorian construction, is located at the opposite end of Guildhall Walk.

The start of Guildhall Walk. The Isambard Kingdom Brunel in on the right hand corner.
The start of Guildhall Walk. The Isambard Kingdom Brunel in on the right hand corner.

I didn’t have a map with me but, as it turned out, I didn’t need it. There are very helpful and easy to follow maps of the area in important intersections. I walked down Cambridge Road/A3. There are many University of Portsmouth buildings here. The atmosphere in the street was a lively one with students milling around. I continued past the University Library to the next roundabout and turned left onto Museum Road.

University Library

The building of the City of Portsmouth Museum (2) is a Victorian beauty, especially the back. Here, I learned that Arthur Conan Doyle worked as a doctor in Portsmouth for many years and this is where he started his writing career. However, the Scottish author wasn’t the only famous writer with a local connection: Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth. There’s a Charles Dickens’ Trail on Old Portsmouth. I picked up a leaflet and tried to follow it.

The back facade of the museum
The back facade of the museum

I walked back to the roundabout and down High Street in Old Portsmouth. The street is lined with low buildings, many Victorian but many look more recent. I later learned that Portsmouth was attacked with incendiary bombs in 1941 during World War II. Many buildings were destroyed, 930 civilians died and about 3,000 were wounded in the blitz. So were many of the buildings on the Dickens’ trail.

High Street - Old Portsmouth
High Street – Old Portsmouth

I stopped at the John Pounds Memorial Unitarian Church. Charles Dickens is said to have befriended and admired John Pounds. Pounds (1766-1839, voted Portsmouth Man of the Millennium), was a crippled cobbled who taught destitute children to read and write and also fed and clothed them. He is acknowledged to have set in motion the movement towards universal free education in England.

Replica of John Pounds workshop
Replica of John Pounds workshop

Pounds’ legacy continued in the Ragged Schools movement in the United Kingdom and the US. The chapel where he worshipped was destroyed in the 1941 blitz and was rebuilt in 1956. A very kind member of the congregation showed me the replica of Pound’s workshop, told me the whole story and asked me to spread the word.

I stopped at a Co-op to buy something to eat. I took mi picnic across the street to the cathedral green and sat in the golden light of autumn to enjoy my sandwich.

The cathedral
The cathedral

Portsmouth Cathedral has a long history. The building developed from a medieval chapel built in 1185, which is now the quire. A very knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer took around and explained everything there is to know about the cathedral.

The medieval nave
The medieval nave

I went on to the end of the streets and the seawalls. Portsmouth was a walled garrison town until the 1870s under constant threat of invasion. The Square Tower, right at the end of High Street, is among the oldest fortifications and it dates to 1494. The sun was setting and its golden light bathed the stone walls. A fisherman was packing up at the end of the pier, a couple of lovers whispering sweet nothings on each other’s ears. Time to turn round and go back home.

portsmouth14

I continued on Battery Row, where people were taking a quiet dusk stroll, enjoying the salty air. I had a look at the Royal Garrison Church (3), built in 1212. The nave lost the roof in the air raid of 1941.

Royal Garrison Church
Royal Garrison Church

Back to High Street, then on to Guildhall Walk and the station.

Battery Row
Battery Row
(1) Those interested in visiting the Dockyards should take the train to Portsmouth Harbour station.
These lines connect Portsmouth with other English cities: the First Great Western from Cardiff Central, the South West Trains from London Waterloo and Southampton Central and the Southern from London Victoria, Littlehampton and Brighton.
(2) Opening Times: April – September: 10.00am – 5.30pm. October – March: 10.00am – 5.00pm. Open Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. Closed on Mondays (except Bank Holidays). Admission is free of charge.
(3) Open from April to September from 11am to 4pm.

A flying visit to Cambridge

We arrived in Cambridge in the early afternoon, later than we would have liked. In November, days are short so we’d have only a few hours of daylight to see the sights. We hadn’t planned the visit very carefully.

King's College in the background
King’s College in the background

We parked on Queen’s Road, a narrow, tree-lined street behind some of the colleges.

“We seem to be where the colleges are. Let’s go have a look.”

“Wait. I’m hungry. I thought we’d have lunch first and then go sightseeing.”

“I’m not hungry. Besides, I don’t know this place.”

“I don’t either but we can ask for directions!”- My stomach punctuated this statement with a loud roar.

In the end, we decided to carpe diem and visit King’s and Clare Colleges since we were parked just outside. We crossed some fields called The Backs towards the River Cam and crossed the Clare Bridge. A few visitors were admiring the autumnal colours and watching the punters glide past. Traffic on the river was pretty heavy. At the other side of the stone bridge, the eye wandered to the Scholar’s Gardens, quintessentially English.

A lull in the punter traffic on the River Cam
A lull in the punter traffic on the River Cam

Clare College was founded in 1326 by Lady Elizabeth de Clare, a granddaughter of King Edward I (or Edward Longshanks, the “baddie” from the film Braveheart. Hollywood does make for good references if not historical accuracy). Clare is the second oldest college in Cambridge.

The University of Cambridge, which celebrated its 800 anniversary in 2009, is a confederation of schools, faculties, departments and 31 colleges. Students live and attend lessons in each college. Professors teach to small groups in sessions called supervisions.

View of King's College chapel
View of King’s College chapel

Next to Clare is King’s College, which was founded in 1441 by a king, Henry VI, as its names clearly states. I felt the excitement of walking across the courts, past the porter’s lodge and trying to catch a glimpse (the porter caught me red-handed and just smiled,) of breathing in the long history of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. I think I even felt more intelligent just being there!

King’s College Chapel is an amazing example of late Gothic (or decorated) style. Its fan vaulted ceiling is exquisite, as are the medieval stained-glass windows. Somebody was practicing, or maybe tuning, the organ, which added to the atmosphere. Unfortunately for me, there were quite a lot of people for such a narrow chapel, so the experience was somewhat marred.

King's Parade outside King's College
King’s Parade outside King’s College

King’s College is a “green” institution in that they make every effort to improve environmental sustainability. Students can grow their own vegetables in allotments, for example. In the Back Lawn, Rare Breeds are kept to keep the grass short and thus provide growing conditions for wildflowers and herbs. Besides, their poo, ahem, manure, is a cozy environment for insects, part of the food chain also.

By then, we were hungry and thirsty, so we walked to King’s Parade, the main drag. Tea houses, tourist tat shops, churches and colleges compete for your attention. In the street, bikes compete with cars for right of way and parking space. Pedestrians need to be careful when crossing the street; you never know where a cyclist at top speed can come from.

The Cambridge University Press bookshop
The Cambridge University Press bookshop, the longest continuously operating bookshop in England, where books were first sold in the 1580s, according to that round blue sign above the door.

We browsed the stalls at Market Square: organic fruit and veg, crafts, imports, clothes and the delicious smell of freshly made crepes. Street performers entertained visitors.

The sun was setting and the time on the parking meter was running out. King’s College was closed so we couldn’t walk across to our car. We took a detour round the side along Trinity Street. We walked past the Cambridge University Press bookshop. I would have loved to spend a happy hour between the books but there was no time. The CUP logo reminded me of all the English as a foreign language classes I either took or taught back home.

Cows grazing in The Backs
Cows grazing in The Backs

Ely, a lovely medieval town in Cambridgeshire

As we were getting closer, a few stragglers were scurrying towards the cathedral in the light fall rain. We made it just in time for the 10.30 sung Eucharist at Ely Cathedral. We didn’t plan on it but went with the flow and thought it would be something different to experience.

The magnificence of the nave, with its forest of Gothic columns that rise to the painted ceiling, took our breath away. A lady volunteer handed us a service book. It was Sunday, November 2, All Saints’ Day, according to the church liturgy.

Ely Cathedral, Ely, cambridgeshire
The amazing nave and painted ceiling.

The service was a sung Eucharist. The voices of the cathedral choir and the organ music reverberated in the nave and rose up the columns towards the ceiling and beyond. It brought home to me the notion of elevating a prayer. I understood what medieval architects were trying to achieve with their tall buildings and spires ascending to the heavens. I understood it with my head and not with my heart. I can only imagine how much more effective it must have been in an age when people were more vulnerable.

The lantern
The lantern

During the service, the sun came out briefly and shone through the stained glass windows. Its fleeting magic filled the interior with colour. A religious person might think it was a miracle. I took it as a gift from nature.

There were christenings immediately after the High Church service, so the apse and the crypt were closed to the public. We still were able to see the aisles and the Norman transept from the 11th century (the transverse part across the nave that forms the shape of a Latin cross so typical of medieval churches.) It took such a long time to build a cathedral in the Middle Ages that some parts date from different times and are built in different styles even. Ely is no exception.

Altar and choir
Altar and choir

We stopped to light a candle at the St. George chapel in memory of my husband’s father and grandfathers, who all served in the military. Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day were a few days away, so the chapel was flooded in candlelight and poppy wreaths.

In memory of family members
In memory of family members

Across the street, on the cathedral green, a flock of ducks was eating lunch under a tree. There is a cannon from the Crimea war on the green as well. A plaque remembers some local protestant martyrs who were burned on that same green during Mary Tudor’s reign. It is hard to picture such violent scenes in this tranquil place.

View from the top of the green
View from the top of the green

At the other end of the cathedral green is the Tourist Information Office, which doubles as Oliver Cromwell’s Museum. This house is his only residence, apart from Hampton Court Palace, still extant. I’m not too keen on Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England in the 17th century, because I do not like people who impose their beliefs with violence. And I did not like his museum either. There is not much to see and the admission costs 4 pounds. There are life size figures representing Cromwell and his family in different rooms. One of them is sitting at his desk in his study. It looked up when I came in. I nearly jumped out of my skin, I did not expect that!

Oliver!
Oliver!

We ended our visit to Ely with a delicious cream tea at The Almonry, a 13th century building along the High Street that belonged to the cathedral at one time. Nowadays, it houses offices, a restaurant and flats. The patio looks onto the cathedral gardens. The back of the cathedral is even more imposing than the front.

My cream tea
My cream tea

 

The back of Ely cathedral
The back of Ely cathedral
A lovely 16th century Tudor cottage
A lovely 16th century Tudor cottage

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If you want to know more about Ely Cathedral, click here.
How to get there:
By train from London King’s Cross, Norwich, Cambridge, Midlands and Stansted airport. The station is a ten minute walk from the cathedral.
By car, 20 minutes from Cambridge and 2 hours from London.

A guided history walk of Guildford

The first time I ever heard the name Guildford was in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father, with Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson, which I watched in Buenos Aires. The movie is about the Guildford Four, a group of people wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA’s bombing of two pubs in Guildford, England.

In a surprising turn of events, I first visited Guildford a decade later with my now husband, who grew up in the area. I’ve been back many times in the intervening years, whether for sightseeing or shopping. Only recently did I become interested in local history, which spans from Anglo Saxon times to today. After a little digging, I came across the Guildford Town Guides, a group of voluntary guides that take visitors on themed walks around the city, free of charge. They encourage visitors to donate money, which each guide gives to the charity of their choice.

High Street seen from the bottom
High Street seen from the bottom

On my recent visit to my in-laws, I chose to do the Historic Guildford walking tour. The meeting point was under the Tunsgate Arch on the High Street. The arch was built in 1818 on the site of the demolished Tun Inn to protect sacks of corn from the rain, as the corn market took place on the High Street outside the Guildhall directly across the street. Guildford had been a market town since Saxon times and a market is what distinguishes a town from a village.

Our guide, Jennifer, met us there. The tour started at 2.30 on the dot. We started with a little history of the High Street. This is one of my favorite spots and I never tire of admiring its gentle towards the River Wey.

The High Street seen from the top
The High Street seen from the top. The Tunsgate Arch is on the left, the Classical looking construction with the columns.The clock on the right hangs from the guildhall’s wall.

The village of Guildeforde, such was its Anglo Saxon name, ran along one street, the present day High St. At the time, they used ditches as boundaries between town and country. The present-day North Street was known then as Lower Backside (cue giggles) and Sydenham Street was known as Upper Backside. There are still passages between houses that run from north to south to the countryside. One such passage is known as Jeffries’ Passage, named after a chemist. Our guide said, rather cheekily, that it was an unfortunate name. Would any British reader kindly enlighten me as to why?

Jennifer told us a little about some of the buildings there. For example, the site of the local branch of Lloyd’s Bank was Guildford’s first bank. The original shop sold silk and other expensive goods. It was so secure that other merchants started to leave valuables there for safekeeping. The silk merchant then came up with the idea of starting the town’s first bank. A couple of doors down from the bank is Russell House, home of portraitist John Russell (1745-1806.)

The former silk shop
The former silk shop

In the early 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, Guildford was the centre of the stagecoach era thanks to its strategic position between London and the south coast and the west of England. There were many turnpike inns along the street, such as the Angel Hotel, a posting house and livery. The oldest part of the building dates back to the 13th century. The black and white front is beautiful.

The Angel Hotel and Posting House
The Angel Hotel and Posting House

Another historic building on the High Street is the Guildhall, where a medieval guild used to convene. Two charters, one from 1259 granted by Edward III and one from 1488 granted by Henry VII, allowed the town to be governed by a mayor and “men of good repute” (merchants.) Thus, 13 men and a mayor ran Guildford until elections became mandatory in the 1830s.

The bottom part of the building dates from 1588 (the year of the Armada) and was used for committee meetings and trials. The original coats of arms on the windows are those of Elizabeth I, Anne of Denmark and Guildford. In the right hand corner is a set of original Elizabethan official measures. The other extant set is in Winchester.

The meetings room of the guildhall. The judge sat with his back to the window, the witnesses to his left and the accused to his right.
The meetings room of the guildhall. The judge sat with his back to the window, the witnesses to his left and the accused to his right.

The top part of the Guildhall was built in 1683 and housed the council chambers. It has the only source of heat in the building, a 1633 fireplace salvaged from a demolished house. The insert (metal bit) is Regency. The floor is askew because of old age.

The photographer was not tipsy, the floors are slanted.
The photographer was not tipsy, the floors are slanted.

The landing was added in the 1900s and was –I believe it still is- used as changing area for councilors and judges. This is where the robes are kept: red for aldermen, black for councilors and blue for honorary freemen. Each robe has a tag with the name of its wearer.

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Red robes for the aldermen

At the top of the High Street is Abbott’s Hospital (1619-1622.) George Abbott, a Guildford native, attended the Royal Grammar School and went on to become an Oxford don, bishop of London and Coventry and archbishop of Canterbury. He was grateful to his hometown for the education he received and founded this hospice for the poor. It was modelled after Oxford colleges with a quadrangle (yard) in the centre, a warden and a porter.

The quadrangle at Abbott's Hospital, which is not an actual hospital but a home.
The quadrangle at Abbott’s Hospital, which is not an actual hospital but a home.

Although men and women slept separately, there were common rooms for meals and a chapel. The place was financed by rents coming in from farms owned by the hospice. The building still functions as a hospice; an extension was built on the original garden in the 1980s. Prospective residents have to meet one or more of these conditions nowadays: having lived 20 years in Guildford, having served the country or have nowhere else to go.

Abbott's Hospital at the top of High St.
Abbott’s Hospital at the top of High St., opposite Holy Trinity church

We ended the visit in the Undercroft. This one dates from the 1290s and is located under a croft (Scots for house) near the bottom of the High Street. In the Middle Ages, undercrofts were used for storage: dairy in the north end because it was cooler and animals at the opposite end. This undercroft was thought to have been used as a shop, possibly selling wine from France. The borough rents the undercroft from the shop above and is open to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon from May to September.

 View of the undercroft.
View of the undercroft. Robert is wearing 13th century clothing. Guildford was a wool town and has a blue dye named after it. Guildfrod blue was made with local yellow flowers and urine.

There were people from all walks of life and ages in my group: locals who were interested in the town’s history, as were a couple of pensioners, tourists and university students (I was the only non-European, though.) I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and I sincerely recommend it.

London’s Little Venice

When I think of canals, I think of Venice or Amsterdam. But I recently discovered that these aren’t the only cities crisscrossed by canals. Good old London has them too!

View of the canal towards Edgware Road
View of the canal towards Edgware Road

London’s (and Britain’s) canal system was a child of the Industrial Revolution and its demand for cheap transport for goods and commodities. It may sound odd to modern ears but the boats were horse-drawn and the horses walked along the tow paths. One horse could carry thirty tonnes at a time. Nowadays, water buses transport passengers to and from Camden Town.

The horse-drawn boats are long gone but the canals still remain and became part of a lifestyle. The area known as Little Venice consists of a pool of water where the Grand Union and Regent’s canals meet. It is sought after as it provides a posh postcode on the (relatively) cheap, as this is where houseboats can be moored. It is a lovely, quiet area surrounded by mainly elegant Georgian houses along tree-lined streets.

Tow path chock-a-block with plants
Tow path chock-a-block with plants

Regent’s Canal lies just north of Central London. It is 8.6 miles (13.8 km) long and was built in the early 1800’s as an alternative way to transport goods to Paddington Station. Some sections of the tow path are open to the public and some are for residents only. I walked along Regent’s Canal for a while on a sunny spring day. It was a very pleasant stroll and it provided a glimpse into houseboat life.

Home sweet home
Home sweet home

There isn’t much space so every nook and cranny is filled with stuff. The small kitchens -or should I call them galleys? –  were very functional and luminous. Many boats had a table and one or two chairs on deck to take advantage of the fine weather, as well as potted plants and even gardening implements. As far as I know, some moorings (hopefully all) offer full facilities: showers, washers and dryers and the like, as well as connection to water, electricity and phone services. There were well-tended patches of garden along the tow path brimming with spring blooms.

Sit down for a cuppa
Sit down for a cuppa

It seems to me that living on a houseboat fulfills both the desire to own a house and the freedom to take it with you, as some British narrow boats are capable of navigating the European canal systems.

I’m not sure I could live on one permanently. Could you?

To visit Little Venice, take the Bakerloo Line to Warwick Avenue station and then walk down Bloomfield Road.

What the Brits left behind: the railway

On my recent trip to England I realised that some areas or buildings reminded me of my own country, Argentina. Even my Argentinean friends, who were on holiday in London, too, made similar remarks.

One of the aspects that caught my attention was the architecture of railway stations. Waterloo Station put me in mind of Retiro, one of the three railway termini of Buenos Aires and our local station, Haslemere, looked eerily similar to my home town’s station. I knew that the British had built and operated most railway lines between the 1850s and the 1940s, as this is the kind of thing we learn in history class at school but seeing the similarities really brought it home to me.

I decided to look into the British legacy in Argentina for a new series. The history of the railway is the first installment.

Haedo Station (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Haslemere Station (Surrey, England)

The economic growth of Argentina in the second half of the 19th century went hand in hand with the laying of the railway lines. Many modern towns and cities began as small settlements around train stations, like my own hometown of Ramos Mejia.

A family photo of Ramos Mejia station in the 1950s

Britain had always been interested in Spanish America in general and Argentina in particular and signed various treaties in the 1850s, which laid the groundwork for massive investment in transport, communications and navigation.

The Western Rail Company was formed in 1855 with mainly local capitals in order to build the first railway line. This line ran from Parque Station (where the Colón Opera House stands today) to Flores, eight miles to the west. This line was officially opened in August 1857 and was subsequently extended. (And it happens to be the line that I took everyday to work.)

Several smaller rail companies (and lines) were created after the Western Rail, like the Northern Railway of Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires and Ensenada Railway, the East Argentine Railway or the Buenos Aires to Campana Line. These companies were eventually absorbed by bigger British-owned outfits like the Central Argentine Railway Ltd. and the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway Co. Ltd. The latter quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

In 1948, President Perón decided to nationalise the seven railway companies operating in Argentina at the time. This was considered a turning point because it was thought to bring about economic independence. All it did was deepen the economic crises from the 1950s onwards by contributing heavily towards the national budget deficits and deteriorate the quality of the rail service and the rolling stock in a downward spiral.

Interesting facts

  • The first engine to pull a train in the country was La Porteña, which is now on display at the Enrique Udaondo Museum of Luján (Buenos Aires). La Porteña was originally built in Leeds to use in the Crimea War. After the war, the engines and carriages were put up for sale around the world and that’s how it ended up in South America.
  • John Allan, the first engine driver of La Porteña, had the sad duty of driving the train that transported the victims of the yellow fever epidemic of 1870-1871 to the cemetery on the western outskirts.
  • The rail companies imported absolutely everything from Britain, from railway terminals to signal boxes. The modern-day La Plata Central Station was originally built for India but news of disturbances and economic problems on the Indian Subcontinent caused the station to be re-routed to Argentina.
IMG_7228
La Porteña

Sources

Extracts for The Forgotten Colony by Alexander Graham-Yooll, 1981

Wikipedia (various articles)

Photos: my own. See more on Flickr

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)”]