11 February 2016

Taverns, Public Houses, and Pubs once central to neighborhoods are mostly pieces of history now ...

Taverns or related always have a fond place in my heart and it’s not because I’ve spent a lot of time in them.  It’s because it’s the one bit of history I learned about my husband’s family that he found interesting.  I discovered a Welsh ancestor had owned a pub.

“The Old Parish Public Houses Past and Present II” John Lyons, 1987.

Horse and Groom, 128 Commercial Street, Maesteg
The Original licensed house of this name dates back at least to 1841.
Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian, 9th August 1845

A convivial meeting called a Pie (Pye) was held at the Horse and Groom, Maesteg. Many young persons congregated in a room over the brew house. In the brew house there was a large boiler of scalding water when suddenly the floor gave way but the boards on the floor wedged themselves into a shape of a “V”. No one was scalded, only slight injuries occurred. An Irishman who was a spectator to the whole event stated “That they had escaped death by the will of God.”

In 1846 Charles Lewton Brains married Jane Hutchinson, whose father James Hutchinson was a publican, and later kept the old Farmers Arms, Maesteg.

Charles Lewton (dropping the name Braine) went on to keep the Horse and Groom. He died in 1868. [per my own research, his wife continued to run the establishment]

I recently came across an article about a related collection held in Connecticut,  Exploring America’s Largest Collection of Early Tavern Signs.  

The signage, though, was a rather difficult design challenge. While today restaurants and bars are often easily identifiable by the form and shape of their buildings, historic watering holes were virtually indistinguishable from the private residences on either side of them: They were literally public houses. The painted and carved saloon signs hanging outside would signpost to visitors that food, drinks and lodging were to be had inside. 

This reminded me that there is a lineage society, The Flagon and Trencher: Descendants of colonial Tavern Keepers.

There is also a database dedicated to documenting “The Lost Pubs” of England.

Is there something comparable for the US?

The only “taverns” I have been in are Gadby’s Tavern in Alexandria VA and I think all the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg.

Have you dined in taverns that recreate an 18th century experience?

Were your ancestors publicans, tavern keepers or related?

What are the best resources for researching those who owned taverns, public houses, and related?

Editor's Note: The Horse and Groom is now a pizza place.

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