The History of British Pubs

What makes pubs so great? For starters, it’s impressive that they’ve been around for almost 2,000 years. The purpose behind a British pub was not to such grab a drink and order some food; it’s main focus has always been the human connections. Chatting with the next person in line who’s waiting to get a drink, having a laugh with friends, listening to live music…it’s what it’s all about.

bar, tables, drinks, glasses

Britain’s Pub History

Interestingly, the Romans first brought pubs to life to the British Isles, back in 43 AD. At the time, pubs were called tabernae. Although wine was sold at these tabarnae, one had to keep in mind that the Brits loved their ale and beer. At the time, drinking water wasn’t so safe, so they opted for these two staple drinks. Bearing this in mind, the tabaranae brought along a wave of change as they opted to provide the Brits with their favourite poison. Very quickly, tabarnae became known as taverns.

Whilst ale remained the top brew at these taverns, they further adapted themselves to other colonisers, such as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and the Vikings. However, Anglo-Saxon King, Edgar, wanted to take measures to limit the number of taverns/alehouses in villages. Additionally, he is thought to have been the brains behind the phrase to take (someone) down a peg. In this case, the peg controlled the amount of alcohol consumed.

Along with the food and drink provided by taverns, inns were also very popular with pilgrims and merchants. English Lit people – you must be familiar with this one. The English author and poet, Geoffrey Chaucer painted a clear picture of this in his most globally renowned work, The Canterbury Tales. In his work, Chaucer referred to the London’s historic Tabard Inn, situated on Borough High Street in Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. This was the very first location were Chaucer’s pilgrims first met on their way to Canterbury in 1830.

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Interestingly, inns also served as a recruitment centre for military purposes. To this day, Ye Old Jerusalem remains one of the long-standing pubs in Nottingham. It is believed that is served as the recruitment centre of King Richard I’s (Richard the Lionheart’s) volunteers, who were accompanying him on his crusade to the Holy Lands. 

From Taverns to Pubs

By King Henry VII’s reign, all taverns, alehouses and inns eventually became known as we know them today; from public houses, they became pubs. By the year 1577, Britain and Wales collectively had around 17,000 alehouses, 400 taverns, and 2,000 inns.

By the mid-1600s, tea and coffee were also introduced to the pub scene. Their prices were quite hefty, so they were mainly reserved for the rich and the British aristocracy. However, another wave of changed came along when cheap spirits arrived from around Europe. Brandy came from France, whilst gin came from Holland. More commonly known as the Gin Era, the years 1720 to 1750 caused plenty of social problems. In fact, the 1736 and 1751 Gin Acts served to lessen gin consumption and sought to bring back the older generation of pubs.

Pubs saw the introduction of the stagecoach, where inns were provided prior to the route one chose to take. Besides offering food, drink and a place to stay, inns cared for the horses before continuing a journey. As you can expect, there were two classes of people; the rich, who enjoyed the luxury of sitting inside the stagecoach, and less fortunate ones who sat outside. Of course, social class comes in to play here, as inns provided the rich and famous with warm wishes and the opportunity to lounge in the salon, while the poor could only stay in the bar room.

Naturally, things have changed nowadays. People from all walks of life are welcome to grab a drink, have a chat and enjoy a night filled with live music and connections from all over the world.

people and buildings

The Aviator Pub

Looking to grab a drink and some hearty food? You’ve come to the right place. The Aviator Pub simply has it all. Located right in the heart of Bristol on Chandos Road, the Aviator Pub has generated lots of excitement amongst its esteemed customers since its opening in 2013. People kept flocking to the place and has since continued to serve as one of Bristol’s top social places.

bar entrance

Aviator Pub is truly a special spot in Bristol. From the minute you step inside the pub, you can miss the distinct memorabilia. Simply put, if you love anything related to planes and travelling, then this is the place for you.

shots and bar table

Aviator Pub offers a wide range of drinks including their staple craft ales beers, including their very own house-beer, The Aviator Wing. If you’re not a beer person, you can always enjoy a glass of wine from the impressive wine list. Along with the drinks, you can also devour the signature burgers and ribs, that are made just by using local ingredients.

In short, Aviator Pub champions in celebrating Bristol’s heritage in aviation. If you’re ever in Bristol and are looking to enjoy a pub night like no other, this is simply the place to be.