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Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire in England and in 2013 celebrated the 1100th anniversary of the arrival of AEthelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great, with her horde of Mercians at the small, quiet religious community of Bethney, no more than a kind of island surrounded by a river, brook and marsh.
Book 1, the first of two publications presents a definitive review of the history of Stafford’s pubs, alehouses and inns, as well as the owners, licensees and meaning of their individual signs. It is a journey through distance and time spanning five centuries, beginning at the same point where AEthelflaed arrived; a shallow ford over the river Sow which is now crossed by the wide single span Green Bridge. Here we begin our perambulation, passing through an undulating 460 years of drinking time, visiting Inns and Alehouses; a modern day pub crawl.
A few yards to the north of the bridge stood the 14th century arched South Gate, the entry point of the fortified town. The journey travels through most of the streets of the town until it reaches the North Gate.
Until around 1850 few people ventured far from their homes. Those who did so travelled on horseback or by stagecoach, and when they wanted a meal or a bed for the night they went to an Inn. Licensees brought their own particular personalities and atmosphere and a large amount of effort has been dedicated to provide an everlasting memory to those that provided places for society to meet and enjoy other peoples company.
100 years later we were in the age when people had limited access to drink and regarded any pub as a social gathering place, where they could enjoy a pint, chat, game of darts, dominoes, crib and smoke. Then get in their cars and drive home.