Berkhamsted Pubs: A Brief History

In the Middle Ages only the basic licensing appears to have existed outside London; indeed, almost everybody carried out home brewing. Ale was the universal drink except among the upper classes who also drank wine. Beer (brewed with hops) did not come into fashion until the fifteenth century. Rivers and streams formed a convenient sewer and rubbish tip; when boiled it might be drunk – but only at great risk. It could also be, but seldom was, used for bathing in. Ale was therefore not merely a convenience; it was a necessity. Inns provided rooms for travellers, taverns provided food and drink and alehouses simply served ale or beer for consumption on- or off-premises.

Gardener's Arms

Gardener’s Arms

Compiled with the help of local characters in the pub and a selection of publications, Mary takes us through the fascinating history of pubs in Berkhamsted and Northchurch (but not the surrounding hamlets).

How well do you know your locals? Which one was known as the “Doss House” as recently as the 1960s? Which one still has the bunks built into the rafters that were used for sleeping stop-overs for working canal folk? Which one used to be called the Chaff-Cutters? In which pub did the landlord lose his licence for failing to assist police with a lot of navvies making a disturbance? Did you know there was a pub called the “Clown and Sausages”?

Mary Casserley, Chronicle, v.XIII, pp.23-31

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