Monday, 25 July 2016

Little Hell, Great Hell & Damnation.

 What was the George Inn on the left and the Three Tuns on the right.

The bad reputation earned by New Street during the 19th century was a real one.  With great foundries producing metal items, a great many employed in agriculture around the town the centre attracted many men with money to spend into the public houses.  
This is not something to sneer at, many lived in accommodation which was far from ideal, often with families with several children and as is the way with many the attraction of drink in a war, gas lit, public house with in some places no women and others with plenty and an idea that the money they earned was theirs to spend pubs became their home.  
Single men, especially the young, have little concern for anything but fun as they have no obvious responsibilities and little sense.  Public houses became a place to find entertainment and fun from the friends with whom you may have spent a hard ten or twelve hour day.
The result was many of the towns pubs became places to avoid.

 Green Man
The 'Three Tuns' was as far as I can make out glancing at these books the 'Little Hell' of the piece.  This stood opposite a fourth drinking den called the 'White Horse.'  The 'George Inn' becoming 'Great Hell' and this delightful pink house, now used for respectable occupations was the 'Green Man,' the 'green man' being one of the pagan beliefs of times past or possibly referring to the many foresters dressed in green, Robin Hood' style to blend in with their surroundings.  Essex was once covered with forests.  This pleasant place was I believe 'Damnation.'


Just down from the 'green Man' stands the 'Cage.'  Most towns and villages had one of these for the local constable to lock up for the night any drunks who pushed their luck or any criminal caught pushing someone else's.  Many a drunk took one of the two cells inside just as many a man carrying someone else's chickens home for tea did likewise.
The introduction of what we now call constables arrived in 1829 and soon the town had a proper police station and suitable jail for such peoples, now we have an even better station with a great many less officers staffing it.  Isn't progress wonderful!  It must be said much of their time is spent outside pubs on a Saturday night.
These men, and here I suggest it was mostly men, have long gone, the majority sadly to discover Hell indeed is real and somewhat fewer finding salvation in Christ Jesus and land in a better place.  I wonder what the churches did for these people at the time?  Were they too middle class?  Many men joined the independent non conforming churches and would avoid such places.  But did anyone really speak to the heart of those who made New Street pubs their home?  
Of course not all local men left work and wasted their money in the pub, the majority tried their best for their families and worked hard to improve their lives as was the way in the 19th century.  Personal improvement, 'getting on' to better yourself and your position was common.  The local rich provided schools for kids and an Mechanics Institute for those willing to learn more.  This was common throughout the land and other public houses enabled such men to meet and drink in a more rarefied atmosphere.  
Looking at the paperwork it is surprising how many of these places were run by women.  Sometimes following on from a dead husband, sometimes from the father.  Some pubs were run by the same families for decades.  Now these three are very quiet, long since they were turned into housing or warehouses, long since they worried the constable or irked a wife with little money and a well bashed rolling pin.
The town has lost around fifty pubs in the last hundred years, the majority since the second world war.  After that major industry was threatened and defeated by cheap foreign imports, cinema and then television kept people away from pubs and the attitudes of men changed over the period.  While the majority carried on as normal the wasters were fewer in number and even today the last twenty years has seen a change in attitudes to pub behaviour.  While rowdy areas frighten people and the police are never in enough presence two town centre pubs have failed and one is for sale.  
I doubt those that pour lager down their throats today would consider the old local game of sitting on the floor and spinning round and round like a top.  Apparently this was a popular entertainment among the locals, but appears less so today.  Maybe too many mobile phones now...


Lee said...

The number of pubs has diminished here in this country, too, but not the idiotic behaviour of some of the male drinkers who think they all Mike Tysons, and, of course some equally idiotic females.

I think women, in many cases, if not the majority of cases, made better publicans than the menfolk. The drinkers tended to pull their heads in a little quicker when told to "chill-it" by a woman than they would've done if a man told them to behave themselves. And, yes, I am talking from personal experience.

It's a shame the cosy pub atmosphere of old is fading away. Many of our wonderful old country pubs here in the Land of Oz are dwindling in number, too.

the fly in the web said...

I wonder if those pubs knew of the practice of 'sitting in'...steady customers who went with the pub as it were when it went up for sale. Some actually lived there...others were regular regulars...

Jenny Woolf said...

In the late 18th and early 19th century many Parsons were lazy and nobody thought much about the "lower orders," it seems, except thinking up ways to control them. I think it's hard to comprehend just how wild the 18th century was, I often wonder if things were even wilder in the centuries beforehand but anyway to me the 18th c. sounds like total liberty hall at times where you could go to hell if you chose and nobody else cared. In the early 19th century much effort was made to bring the poor into the Christian fold, and make them act more respectably. It had mixed results but at least it sounds as if those who wanted a better life had more of a chance of getting one. Many well meaning ladies were the guardian readers of their day, and made many efforts to help the poor live better lives. To be honest, I think many poor Victorians used to feel that they would rather have more money and more fun than handouts of bread and encouragement to go to church and accept their sad lot in life, which is what some of the "help" amounted to, but ultimately the non conformist movements won a lot of converts and did a lot of good. I always think the Salvation Army reached parts other organisations couldn't.
As for sitting and spinning, I'm amazed ALL the pubs didnt close if that was what was on offer. Mind you I do remember being in a country pub once when I was young and the locals were fascinated by the fruit machine which had just been installed in their sawdust floored drinking den. They would discuss whether the cherries and oranges and plums would come up next, or whether the bananas would win the day.

Adullamite said...

Lee, I agree about women publicans. Often men will listen to them while a man interfering would lead to a fight.

Fly, The 'George' was an Inn and people working in town did lodge there.

Jenny, The Anglicans in the 1700's were often just rich folks and little else. You will recall Wesley and others who believed in God were thrown out. They and others often saw many working folks become Christians. The 19thc was a mixed bag. Many did their 'social gospel' while others just mixed with the better class. The Labour movement was often founded in the 'chapels.'