Suggestions for a New Years Eve

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (January 2012)

It’s New Year’s Eve and a night at ones local pub is as good a way as any to spend it.

My preference would be for a nice glass of beer and, as you can imagine, there are many pubs named for, or with signs celebrating the brewing process.

These are, left to right, top to bottom:

The Anchor Tap in Southwark, by Tower Bridge. The taproom was usually the room where brewery employees could go to test their product, or was the first pub of a brewery, often attached or opposite the brewery; the flagship pub which got the beer first. The Anchor brewery was on the banks of the Thames and was bought in 1789 by John Courage which grew to become the Courage brand.

The Brewmaster, WC2; Williams, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields; The Two Brewers, Dartford; The Two Brewers, Chigwell; The Keystone, Guildford; The Brewery Tap, Stepney; The Ale House, Bath (note the Courage label);  The Two Brewers, Ongar; The Bushel and Spike, Heacham; The Three Tuns, (barrels, ancient measure by volume not weight) Lower Halstow; the Brewery Tap, Luton. I took that one from the Pubsgalore website – I didn’t get into the University area during my last visit to Luton.

You could drink wine, although why would you want to, when there is beer. These are: The Bunch of Grapes Southwark, an interesting example of the arcimboldo technique; The Hoop and Grapes, Aldgate, one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire of London and diagonally opposite the church of St Botolph’s Without, which I managed to catch the spire of. The Grapes, Gravesend and Ye Grapes, Shepherd Market, Mayfair.

If you fancy something completely different these days there is tea at The Old Tea Warehouse in Creechurch Lane in the City of London; The Old Coffee House in Beak Street Soho; water from Widow Cullen’s Well in Lincoln (the well is covered now but remains at the back of the pub, or so I am told. Sadly I cannot enter every pub I photograph); sample a distilled spirit at The Still also in Lincoln; do something esoteric in a vault at Woodin’s Shades opposite Liverpool Street Station, London, or concoct something sweet and sticky involving fruit juice, a cocktail cherry and an umbrella at the Pineapple in Lambeth.

You can drink your choice of tipple from a pint pot, a pint glass or two, a wine glass, a leather bottle, or, especially if you are a big tough Essex Saxon, a horn. The pubs are: The Flowerpot Walthamstow; the Cap and Feathers Tillingham; the Cask and Glass in Victoria; Ye Olde Jug and Glass, Edwinstowe; The Leather Bottle, Blackmore; the Saxon Horn Rainham.

Jericho House in Blackmore, on the site of Jericho Priory is where Henry VIII used to meet his mistress Elizabeth Blount who was the mother of his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond who was born there in 1519. He acknowledged Henry and may have had plans to make him heir in the absence of a legitimate son; the boy died in 1536, shortly before the birth of his legitimate half-brother Edward.

The Saxon Horn gets its name from one of the several glass drinking horns excavated from burials in and around Rainham and Dagenham. One of these (left) is in the British museum, delicate workmanship more appropriate for a Saxon lady to use to sip Rhenish wine, than the quaffing of vast quantities of ale or mead suggested in the sign.

I haven’t even begun on the pub signs depicting foodstuffs; the dozens of Barley Mows and Wheatsheafs, from which bread and beer can be made, the Beehives for honey which can be baked with or made into mead, the Malt Shovels and suchlike. That can wait for another time.

But once fed and watered you can make merry on New Year’s Eve. In the traditional way as at Refreshers, Norwich; The Hilderthorpe, Bridlington; the Liquor Inn, Bow; you can do it with Oom pah pah at the Park Tavern in West Ham, with Ooh la, la at Café Rene (and it really is a pub) in Gloucester, or like a king (Old King Cole, with pipe and bowl I think) at The Kings Stores in Spitalfields. During the reign of Henry VIII the area was a military storage and training depot (cf Artillery Row nearby)

You can party like it is 2011. Prince would have trouble making a party music hit out of that line – lucky he wrote the song in 1982!

Happy New Year.


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