Inns were originally the hospices, or guest houses, of monasteries or priories (see The Bear). By
the 18th century, often now in private hands, many had developed into coaching inns. They were a place for travellers to rest and change their mount while also providing overnight accommodation and
food. They were expensive to run and standards varied considerably. Staff had to be on hand, stabling provided for fifty horses or more, rooms furnished and kept ready, fresh provisions constantly
available. Many closed when the harder times came as road traffic declined in the mid 1800s after the railways came.
Pubs, originally called alehouses or beerhouses, were private homes where the 'ale wife' who was often a widow, brewed and served beer for consumption on or off the
premises. The Beer House Act of 1830 permitted a house-holder or rate payer, on payment of two guineas to the Excise, to turn his private house into a public house. The term 'pub' became common
currency soon after. The pub, unlike the inn, provided no rooms in which to stay. The first licensing legislation - introducing restrictions on opening hours - was passed in 1872.
However, the control of alehouses and inns by licensing actually goes back many centuries. In order to reduce the "intolerable Hurts and Troubles" that "daily grow and
increase through such Abuses and Disorders as are had and used in common Alehouses and other Houses called Tiplinghouses", an Act was passed by Edward VI in 1552 stating that "None shall sell Ale or
Beer without licence, and they shall be bound by Recognisance". Follow this link to view the Act Licensing Alehouses and Tiplinghouses, 1552.
In 1577, the Certificate of Inns, Taverns and Alehouses listed for Hungerford, 1 innkeeper, 7 alehousekeepers and 1 tavernkeeper.
An increasing number of Acts were passed affecting Inns and Alehouses, especially during the reign of James I, largely aimed at controlling "disorderly alehouses", and
"repressing the odious sin of drunkenness". The first James I Act of 1610 was the first to allow one hour of "tippling" at lunchtime. Most hostelries at this time were still called "alehouses", but
"inns" started to become a more commonly used name. Both were gradually taking their place as a common meeting-place for local people to exchange news and pass the time.
The following extracts give a flavour of some of the Acts:
1495 An Act against vagabonds & beggars
[11 Henry VII c2]:
i. No apprentice, servant of husbandry, labourer ... to play tennis, dice, cards, bowls, nor any unlawful games ....
ii Justices may punish keepers of houses for dicing etc
iii Justices may reject and put away common ale selling ... where they think convenient, and to take sureties of the keepers for their good behaviour
1552 An Act for keepers of alehouses and tipling houses to be bound by recognizances
[5/6 Edward V c25]:
i. Justices empowered to remove, discharge etc common selling of ale and beer in common alehouses .... as they think mete and convenient
ii None shall be admitted to keep a common alehouse .... but as shall be admitted in open Sessions or by two Justices ..
iii Justices were empowered to take bond and sureties from all those licenced to be alehousekeepers
iv Justices ordered to register the recognisance at the next Quarter Session
v Justices empowered to enquire at Quarter Sessions whereby any keeper has forfeited his recognisances
vi Keepers not to allow unlawful games in their houses, but to maintain good order and rule
vii Justices empowered to commit those keeping an alehouse without license to common jail .... for 3 days without bail, and before release to take recognisance that they will not keep a common alehouse. Must make record of the offence and recognisance at next Quarter Session.
1603 An Act to restrain the inordinate haunting and tipling in inns, alehouses and other victualling houses [1 James I c9]:
Whereas the ancient and true principal use of inns, alehouses and victualling houses was for the receipt, relief and lodging of wayfaring people ...
and for such supply of the wants of such people as are not able to buy greater quantities to make provision of victuals, and not meant for the entertainment and harbouring of lewd and idle people to spend and consume their money and their time in lewd and drunken manner
i No innkeeper etc to permit .... any person inhabiting ... in any town etc where any such inn etc is, to remain ... drinking or tipling in the said inn etc other than he shall be invited by any traveller and shall accompany him only during his necessary abode there.,
ii and other than labouring and handicraft men in cities etc upon their usual work days for one hour at dinner time to take their diet in an alehouse
iii and other labouring men which for the following of their work .... in any city etc ...lodge in any inn etc
1607 An Act for restraining the utterance of beer and ale to alehousekeepers not licensed [4/5 James I c4]:
person to sell ... any beer or ale to any person, or into the house or cellar of any person, that then shall sell as a common alehouse keeper or tipler, the same not having a licence ... other than
for the use of their own household
1607 An Act for repressing the odious and loathsome sin of drunkeness [4/5 James I c5]:
Whereas the loathsome and odious sin
of drunkeness is late grown into common use within this Realm being the root and foundation of enormous sins ...
i all such persons convicted of being drunk ... to forfeit 5s within one
week into the hands of the churchwardens of the parish ... if refuse . ... or neglect to pay .... to levy by distress ... or 6 hours in the stocks
1609 An Act for repressing drunkeness [7 James I c7]:
... if any
person(s) wheresoever his or their habitation shall at any time hereafter be found upon view
or his own confession or proof of one witness, to be tipling in any inn, alehouse
or victualling house, such person(s) shall be henceforth be adjudged and construed to be within
the said statutes as if he or they had .... in places where they do not dwell ... under 4
James I c5.
1609 An Act for the reformation of alehousekeepers [7 James I c10]:
1623 An Act concerning hostelers and innholders
[21 James I c]:
i Hostelers shall make no horse bread - but bakers shall make it ...
ii Hostelers shall sell their horse bread, oats, hay etc and all kinds of victuals for men and beasts for reasonable gain.
1623 An Act for the better repressing of drunkards and restraining the inordinate haunting of inns etc .. [21 James I c7]:
earlier laws made perpetual
ii alehouse keepers .... disallowed from keeping an alehouse for 3 years
iii constables charged on his oath to present offences
1625 An Act for the restraint of inns, alehouses and victualling houses; penaltiaa extended to innkeepers, alehouse keepers and
victuallers [1 Charles I c4]:
.... be it enacted that every innkeeper etc that at any time .... shall permit or suffer any person(s) .... to tipple in the said inn etc contrary to the statutes
... to be punished ...
1627 An Act for the better suppression of unlicensed alehousekeepers
[3 Charles I c4]:
recites the 1552 Act and reasons why this Act had not brought about the reformation intended
i the 20s fine seldom levied
ii offenders were too poor to pay or to bear own charge of conveying them to jail, and do leave a charge of wife and children on the parish
iii in some regions the constable and other officials are much discouraged from presenting them, and the offenders do become obstinate and incorrigible.
Remedies: penalty of 20s to be paid to the churchwardens for the poor of the parish, or penalty levied by distress, if not paid within 3 days, distress appraised and goods sold, or offender to be whipped constables who neglect to do their duty to be punished.
Follow this link for more records about early licensees.
The Parish Magazine of April 1878 records that "During the past month a
house to house canvass has been made throughout the town of Hungerford, with a view to ascertain the opinion of the inhabitants as to the sale of liquor on the Lords' Day. Returns were received
from 477 houses out of the 494: and it appeared that 384 householders were in favour of Sunday Closing of Public Houses, 15 were in favour of their being open as at present, 24 were neutral, and 40
refused to sign either way. This seems to be a remarkable testimony that those who are supposed to be most interested in the question are strongly in favour of Sunday Closing."
It was not until
Thursday 24th May 1883 that the definitive meeting took place. There was unanimous support for Closing Public Houses on the Lord's Day.
The first documented instance of hop cultivation was in 736, in the Hallertau region of present-day Germany, although the first mention of the use of hops in brewing in that country was 1079. In Britain, hopped beer was first imported from Holland around 1400; but hops were condemned in 1519 as a "wicked and pernicious weed". In 1471, Norwich, banned use of the plant in the brewing of beer, and not till 1524 were hops first grown in southeast England. The use of hops transformed British beer from this time.
- Coaching Trade in Hungerford
- Act Licensing Alehouses and Tiplinghouses, 1552
- Summary of further Licensing Acts relating to inns, alehouses, 1690-1900
- More information about early licensees
- Malthouses mentioned in Sun Fire Insurance policies
- The Origin of Inn Signs - from 'The Countryside Companion', Odhams Press. Margaret Nicol
- The Old Breweries of Berkshire, 1741-1984, T A B Corley, Berkshire Archaeological
Journal 71, 1981-2
- Parish Magazine, Apr 1878, Jun 1883.
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