Thursday, 6 September 2007

Going to the Tavern

The Three Merry Coblers

"Come, follow, follow me! To th' alehouse weele march all three;
Leave aule, last, threed and lether, and let's goe altogether;
Our trade excells most trades i'th' land, for we are still on the mending hand.

Come, tapster, fill us some ale, then hearken to our tale,
And try what can be made of our renowed trade;
We have aule at our commande, and still we are on the mending hand. "

The Tavern was a place of business providing food and drink --a jug of beer or ale, served by a tapster. The alehouse became a centre of social interaction as churches became more puritanical. Patrons enjoyed songs as well as games, both outdoor and indoor, some of which no doubt involved gambling: dice, shove-groat, tick-tack, skittles, and card-games.
Some alehouses certainly offered more than cakes and ale, many alehouses offered rooms for travelers and new arrivals in town

Beer and wine were more than luxuries, since the water was generally unsafe to drink. And there were always taverns to provide drink to the thirsty. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One, Prince Hal chooses to drink with the tapsters and drawers--those who tapped the kegs of beer, drew it, and brought it to the customers

In fact gathering in a tavern to drink beer or other alcoholic drinks is a longstanding social tradition dating at least 3500 BC.
They have existed in England from as early as the 13th Century and were often kept by women usually known as Ale-wives. In the mid-14th century there were only three in London. An act of 1552 allowed forty in London, eight in York, six in Bristol and many more in towns all across England.
By the 19th century the word tavern had developed an archaic flavor in Britain, the current term being public house (pub), though they remain a popular convention in fantasy tales and games.

Excerpt from "The Three Merry Coblers" the full song can be found by clicking here
(This ballad is drawn from the Roxburghe Collection and was written by that most prolific of balladeers, Martin Parker, the author of 'When the King Enjoys His Own Again' and many other pieces).

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