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and life along the winding road

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shakespeare's Pub by Pete Brown

In Shakespeare's Pub (A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub), Pete Brown views London from the Southwark pub, The George Inn. His research shows a public house has been at this location perhaps as early as the 14th century, rebuilt in 1677 after the fire of Southwark (10 years after the  Great Fire of London) and renovated when it was found to be structurally unsound in 1937. The connection to Shakespeare is that he lived in Southwark and possibly wrote Macbeth and Hamlet while living there. But this isn't a book about Shakespeare, it's about London and how it grew up around the river Thames, about coaching inns (often depicted by Charles Dickens) and the constant redevelopment of the City of London. Although sometimes dry reading, the author has a sense of humor and offers many tidbits about London. For instance, Prime Minister, William Pitt added a clock tax of five shillings in 1797. To encourage customers, most of whom did not have a watch or clock, public houses began putting large clocks in their establishments. These clocks were affectionately known as Act of Parliament Clocks. The tax was later repealed and replaced by an even more unpopular income tax.

The only thing I would have added to the book is a map of London. Even though I grew up in London, it was hard to picture some of the roads and locations and an updated map of the area around The George Inn would have been helpful.

If you love history, then you will quickly become immersed in London life around The George Inn.

1 comment:

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a fascinating look at London's history.