Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inns and Alehouses in 1577

Broadly speaking, Inns were places to stay overnight and eat and drink, taverns and alehouses were places for drinking. These alehouses used to advertise themselves by a bushy sapling sticking out above the door. these became known as ale poles or ale stakes.

Alehouses came under government regulation through licence in 1552. Thus records were made. Fortunately we have such a record surviving from 1577 which lists all the innholders and alehouse keepers. It would have been a great bonus if the names of the establishments were also recorded.

 Transcript of return of vintners, innholders and alehousekeepers, 1577


  • Martyn Hawle             Alehousekeeper
 Stony Stratford (West Side)

  •  Michaell Hipwell            Tawner and Innholder 

  • Robert Lucas                  Innholders  

  • Gyles Almond                Innholders 

  • Margery Ludkyn            Innholders 

  • Thomas Goodson alias Percyvall Innholders 

  • John Spencer                  Alehousekeepers

  • William Battoe               Alehousekeepers

  • Margerie Bonfeild          Alehousekeepers

  • Abraham Fuller              Alehousekeepers

  • Richard Haule                Alehousekeepers

  • Richard Foster                Alehousekeepers

  • John Saunders                Alehousekeepers

  • Richard Borrowe            Alehousekeepers

  • Richard Vale                  Alehousekeepers

  • Richard Jenkynes           Alehousekeepers

  • William Turvey              Alehousekeepers 
 Stony Stratford (East Side) 

  • John Vawse                    Vintner and Innholder 

  • Edward Maddox             Innholders 

  • John Pecocke                  Innholders 

  • Henry Smyth                   Innholders 

  • William Benyon              Alehousekeepers 

  • James Hodgkynes           Alehousekeepers 

  • Robert Grene                  Alehousekeepers 

  • Richard Johnson             Alehousekeepers 

  • John Beckley                  Alehousekeepers 

  • Thomas Alman               Alehousekeepers 

  • John Henbadge             Alehousekeepers

We can infer some things from this list. There was an alehouse at the village of Wolverton, likely somewhere in the vicinity of the present village of Old Wolverton. Martin Hawle is from the same family as Richard Haule, who has an alehouse at Stony.

On the east (Wolverton) side of the High Street are four inn holders and seven alehouse keepers. From other sources we know that that  the Cock, the Swan and the Red Lyon were established before this time. the other two candidates for last spot, as it were, were the Rose and Crown and the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe no longer exists but the building that used to be the Rose and Crown is late 15th or early 16th century . Was it an inn at this time? We know that it ended up in the hands of Michael Hipwell because he bequeathed it in his will of 1609. In 1577 he was still a young man and only had one inn on the west side. The Horseshoe doesn't begin to make an appearance in records until the late 17th century, and while this does not exclude the possibility of an earlier establishment, it would incline us to believe that it was not there in 1577.

On the Calverton side there were five inn holders. Michael Hipwell we might reasonably place at The George because of his bequest of 1609. The fact that the ground floor is below street level should lead us to believe that its origins are at least 16th century. The White Horse and The Cross Keys were almost certainly inns at this time. As to the other two it is anybody's guess. There may have been an inn at the Angel, the former site of Grik's Inn, certainly there is reference to it in 1613. The fifth inn may have been the White Hart on the Market Square. This does appear in records in 1625 so it might be supposed to have been in existence in 1577.

The alehouses are less well documented. Like the beer shops of the 19th century they were relatively cheap to set up. Brewing was done on the premises with variable results. In the next century they were targeted by legislation because of concerns about "tipplers" - i.e. those who were prone to drunkenness. However the legislation of 1604 missed its target. Controls were imposed on the inns, which were not a problem, but failed to have any impact on alehouse drinking which went underground, as it were.

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