Maldon Archive
Keeping the Past Alive

Maldon's Inns, Taverns and Public Houses        

The inhabitants of Great Britain have been drinking ale since the Bronze Age, but it was with the arrival of the Romans and the establishment of the Roman road network that the first inns called tabernae, in which the traveller could obtain refreshment, began to appear. After the departure of the Romans and the fall of the Romano-British kingdoms, the Anglo-Saxons established alehouses that grew out of domestic dwellings. The Anglo-Saxon alewife would put a green bush up on a pole to let people know her brew was ready. These alehouses formed meeting houses for the villagers to meet and gossip. Here lie the beginnings of the modern pub. They became so commonplace that in 965 King Edgar decreed that there should be no more than one alehouse per village. Traditional English ale was made solely from fermented malt. The practice of adding hops to produce beer was introduced from the Netherlands in the early 15th century. Alehouses would each brew their own distinctive ale, but independent breweries began to appear in the late 17th century. By the end of the century almost all beer was brewed by commercial breweries. The oldest recorded pub in England is the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Inns are buildings where travellers can seek lodging and, usually, food and drink. They are typically located in the country or along a highway. In Europe, they possibly first sprang up when the Romans built a system of roads two millennia ago. 

Some inns in Europe are several centuries old. In addition to providing for the needs of travellers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places. Some inns in Europe are several centuries old. In addition to providing for the needs of travellers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places. In Europe, it is the provision of accommodation, if anything that now distinguishes inns from taverns, alehouses and pubs. The latter tend to provide alcohol (and, in  the UK, soft drinks and often food), but less commonly accommodation. Inns tend  to be older and grander establishments: historically they provided not only food   and lodging, but also stabling and fodder for the traveller's horse(s) and on some roads fresh horses for the mail coach. Famous London inns include The George, Southwark and The Tabard.  There is however no longer a formal distinction between an inn   and other kinds of establishment. Many pubs use "Inn" in their name, either   because they are long established former coaching inns, or to summon up a particular kind  of image, or in many cases simply as a pun on the word "in", as in "The Welcome Inn", the name of many pubs in Scotland. The original services that inns provide     are now also available at other establishments, such as hotels,  lodges, and motels, which focus more on lodging customers than on other services, although they  usually also provide meals; pubs, which are primarily alcohol-serving establishments; and restaurants and taverns, which serve food and drink.