The truth is, history, much written about, is far less complex than people would think; it is only the teachers and authors of books that make it so complicated and difficult to understand simply being in their interest to do so. Other than that, of course, the victor writes history and thus edits it quite profusely; however, history is made by people, people with vision, people with needs, seeking power and knowledge to sustain their lives and improve life’s passage.
Let me explain;
55BC- saw the first landings of the Romans into Britain as led Julius Caesar having crossed the Channel with a force of around 10,000 soldiers. Having landed on the coast where Deal is now located they were met by a strong force of Britons. With superior discipline the Romans eventually established a beach head and waited for cavalry back up to arrive from France before moving inland. However, it is recorded that a storm prevented the reinforcements from reaching Britain and Caesar decided it fortuitous to withdraw. The ill conceived landing was embarked upon on very uncertain grounds as the main source of Roman recreation and entertainments was in the arena and all entrances and exists were named vomitorium, an educated Latin word that hid the true meaning of these passages as to allow public spectators quick exit having endured the putrid Roman ales that would only be pacified by an expedition to Britain to secure more palatable drinks of recreational worth.
43AD – Forty three AD was the year Claudius arrived on these shores with a Roman army of largely European auxiliaries or mercenaries. Common policy to Roman expansion across Europe was to recruit conquered manpower with the opportunity to seek gainful employment within Roman growth and enjoy full citizenship of Rome upon completion of a 25-year span in the armed services. Within their ranks, men came from Spain, Hungary and Germany with the best of Rome standing fast in the ranks of Legionary veterans considered the elite of Romans strength to be deployed when the chafe had been expunged. To supplement this formidable force further it did not just include a host of nations, but animals unseen on the shores of England. Great beasts of burden and terrifying in battle with sheer, unstoppable weight of African elephants. Certain to put the fear of God into the incredulous inhabitants these great lumbering beasts had massive impact as anticipated and the organizational strength of the Roman army. Even still many animals respond to kindness and good treatment and one age-old Cantiacci soothsayer named Merlin gave a particular elephant a name that would rhyme with his and called it ‘Fremlin’ and the legend of this great beast was to survive over two thousand years.
Although the initial landing in Kent went unopposed, a subsidiary landing took place in the area of Hayling Island on the south coast, where in both proximities advance agents and pseudo traders established links with ambitious, sympathetic indigenous allies in local chieftains who were bribed by the prospect of wealth and power.
Meanwhile the windswept marshes around Richborough was host to the first military encampment that soon transposed to a more substantial fortification and very soon after, a triumphal gate would be constructed to welcome visitors to this new land and mark the beginning of the Roman road system, which grew as a spinal route through Britain known as Watling Street.
Ever ingenious, military commanders surged forward with their auxiliary troops to secure a bridgehead that would creep steadfastly across the land and, to consolidate their progress every single night without exception, a defensive marching camp would be constructed some miles behind the front line as a holding point and place of rest.
This defensive encampment comprised of a ditch surmounted by a row of pre cut wooden stakes or staves that were tied together, each man having carried four in his personal equipment. The trench would enclose the advancing troops in groups of eight or a contuburnium would sleep in leather sewn segmented tents.
Advance troops would retire to these secure strongholds each night and devised a system of route finding that would ensure their soldiers would return to camp without loss or risk. This transposed as a pre-set direct line of intermittently painted timber poles in red and white for easy vision, stuck vertical in a straight line between the local alehouse and the military camp. Then, between each stake would be tied a sturdy chord known as a chain which not only measured the distance but allowed their route to be easily retraced by simply shuffling body movement hand over hand to follow the guide rope.
Thus as more and more troops landed to take advantage of this advance planning, the ground underfoot was gradually worn down and compacted so that it became clear to everyone that these routes should be converted to roads and being straight as a die, they would carve their way through the land in the quickest and shortest route from one objective to another.
Whereas in contrast the indigenous peoples, loosely known as Celts were fiercely proud of their independence and would ne’er deem to follow recommended routes from one place to another, thus the trails they made with drunken sway were laid in ever winding directions that would be carved into the landscape and became timeless to serve rural communities and farmsteads for several millennia as subsidiary roads.
As the Roman occupation progressed, military camps evolved into townships which would garrison localized police forces to protect the surrounding area and people. Towns became cities one of the first was named after the local tribe the Cantiacci, to become known as Canterbury. One visionary who secretly subscribed to the foundling mystical belief that came out of Israel was involved in the architecture and design of these early city developments.
His visions were of horseless carriages and unruly youngsters staggering drunkenly from alehouses to alehouse and in his dreams he heard loud squealing of sirens like beasts of prey that screamed the progress of numerous public support vehicles such as Police and Ambulance services and this vision caused him to influence his new walled city design and bear the common base title of Cester. With the common thread of self defense he secured a name after the noise so loudly playing in his head which he likened to the sirens of Greek mythology ‘sirens’. Thus came the names Chichester, Rochester, Cirencester and Chester.
On a more serious note, the Picts in the north were well known to be a wild and wooly bunch and their lands offered no fertile regions or commodities of which the Romans might make use. As a result, Hadrian initiated a great wall to stretch from Carlisle to Walls End and virtually hem in the Picts and deter them from weakening Roman stocks of goods, produce and chattels. It was duly considered quite rightly that their own home brewed ale might well contribute to their aggressive reputation and as such, there seemed no rhyme or reason to avail them of such drink as the meads and ales of England where they already enjoyed perfectly good sustenance in its own right.
Roman politicians and governors evolved a keen ability to recruit allies from amidst tribal chieftains and elders that were scattered around the regions and where passive enrolment could not prevail. Then conspiratorial actions were evoked to induce the required loyalties or affiliations. One such scheme of defined design was to degrade and deflower a Celtic princess and effectively terminate a political marriage between two rival tribes the Icceni and Trinovantes. Such marriage required the female partner to be of pure virtue and in these troubled times a union of the two tribes too risky for the Roman governor to allow.
A single contuburnium of legionaries were conscripted to break into a prenuptial gathering to deter this marriage of convenience. Rudely interrupting the revelry and making much ado about consuming copious amounts of local mead and ale, the legionaries lashed Boudicca publicly in front of her people. Furthermore, they raped both teenage daughters for all to see and witness, thus averting any political marriage in the future, for marriage of such Royal magnitude demanded virgin union and no less.
No matter how much ale could be consumed, such a political marriage could no longer happen and the sheer act of savagery demanded retribution and tribute that could never make up for, or compensate for such a brutal yet clearly defined act of disrespect and overt sabotage amidst the tribes.
Above all, on the surface it appeared that the Romans had ensured the continued disunity of the tribes, however, their perceived reality was far from that truth. The effrontery at the most callous and insolent act was to galvanise not only the two tribes in question but all the tribes of the midlands who rose with one voice to join Boudicca on her rampage of retribution and revenge.
Swift and mercilessly Roman villas and settlements paid the initial price but then the military city of Colchester was put to the torch and burned to the ground. Then London the embryonic capital city was ransacked and raised and the raiders took to nailing landlords to the door of their inns and alehouses, their crime to serve good English ale to the invaders and quislings alike, a crime likened firmly to consorting with the enemy.
Drunk with victory her host blinded to even the remotest possibility of defeat swaggered across middle England with families in tow to watch and revel in the vengeful passage that showed no mercy. But her bloody passage was brought to a violent end in the Midlands when the highly disciplined cohorts of the Roman army systematically slaughtered all that took breath amongst her host, with the lady herself escaping to the woods now known as Epping forest where it is said that she drank a draught of ‘Watneys’ Red Barrel then crawled off into the undergrowth to die and deny the spectacle of her body being mutilated and paraded through Rome.
Pax Romano was the sympathetic term that related to the first unification of Europe albeit under the dictatorial governance of Rome, the Senate and of course Caesar. The rule was firm, single minded and without doubt and when required, quite vicious, yet it recognized the value of utilizing the skills and resources of the peoples, cultures and wealth of each of the countries it had over run and many were to benefit greatly by an allegiance that in time would be rewarded by certain death. None the less life in the good years was full of comfort and relative luxury, the prolific use of slaves globally was far more excessive than in later years during the 18th and 19th centuries and to those under the yolk, life was at least more comfortable and provision of basic worldly needs were covered.
But empires come and go and the sacking of Rome led inevitably to anarchy across the green swathes of Britain, decay set in at every level, structures fell into disrepair and any indigenous peoples known to have collaborated were summarily put to death in some most horrendous of ways. The dilemma left to the people was to assess whether the order represented by Rome was more acceptable than the chaos that followed, and that same theme was to replicate itself repeatedly over the course of time.
350-450 - Possibly the most well known leader in history was Arthur, or Uther Pendragon who lived in the later years of the Roman occupation during a time known as Romano Britain. Myths and Legends abound around this enigmatic character who gathered about him a whole host of knights and wizards he had come to know and trust as drinking partners in an inn ran by a man called Wadsworth.
The unusual shape of the building was said to have been because of a spell caste by Merlin and in the centre was a single round table with the names of all that sat there, with beer mats abundant and serving of ale prolific, the gatherings and musters were full of jovial and amiable union. The exact location of the Inn has never been revealed but scholars would have it placed in the very centre of Avalon and has been a source of speculation for centuries since.
Essentially the very character of Arthur was held on high as something to aspire to for many sovereigns that followed. Like most legends the more positive aspects shine through and perhaps even open themselves to question, but two facts remain firm in the mind of the indigenous peoples of this land.
Firstly should this land ever be threatened with tyrannical overthrow, then Arthur would raise with his host in his nations defence.
Secondly, however elevated the class of this great man was, he would always stand at a bar and have a pint with you, regardless of rank or station.
Mythologically Arthur was claimed in many parts of the island of Britain but two places hold major significance to this day; Glastonbury boasts the grave of Arthur and his queen yet many would declare convincingly that this were a Victorian folly and Tintagel was the place of his residence. Tenuous as this claim is archaeological evidence contradicts this claim, none the less, it does not deter the tens of thousands that visit each year on a pilgrimage that is only satisfied upon arrival.
387 - Patrick was born near Dunbarton, Scotland to his parents Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britain in charge of the colonies. At the age of sixty nine he left Britain to evangelize Ireland, however it is widely believed he had created a thick, dark fluid, with a healthy, creamy head he wished to develop but was rejected by the makers of the regular honey based amber liquid of these shores. Confident in his inner belief that what he had was of real worth and convinced of the value and quality of his creation, he sought willing and keen sponsors across the sea in Eire and to their good fortune, was to become the Patron Saint of Ireland.
450 - Came the arrival of the Jutes; Hengist and Horsa two brothers who led the first of many northern European incursions into Britain and founded the kingdom of Kent. Their prowess had gone before them as the petrified occupants of the last Romano British stronghold of Pevensey were slaughtered without mercy.
Vortigern invited the two leaders of such great repute to join his campaign against the Picts and Scots even though he had deep concern that they were avowed pagans. The new faith from Rome was hardly established and old habits were reflected by their comment, "We worship our country gods, Saturn and Jupiter, and the other deities that govern the world, but especially Mercury, whom in our language we call Woden and to whom our ancestors consecrated the fourth day of the week, still called after his name Wodensday. Next to him we worship the powerful goddess, Freya, to whom they also dedicated the sixth day, which after her name we call Friday."[
However liking the land that they saw they resolved to stay and settle in the south which caused consternation with Vortigern, a prolific drinker who could not tolerate the competition full time, so a battle ensued in which it was written that Horsa was killed c.455. Romantics and legend have it though that both brothers survived to seek anonymity by moving northward to establish a brewing dynasty under the pseudo name of ‘Smith’, a common enough name that allowed them to blend in with the locals.
In the course of time, their domain grew in a more productive vein and two separate breweries were to evolve through competition and rivalry in William and John’s new empire, but this was to the profit and gain of the fine northern folk.
461 - Legend has it that St Patrick had been lured back to the mainland but had passed away in Glastonbury leaving the secret recipe for his ale with the leprechauns of Ireland.
465 – Incursions occurred on a seasonal basis as various northern cultures sought more fertile land with less hostile weather conditions and not always well received the battle of wippeds fleet (or Richborough) was where the Britons defeated the Saxons with great slaughter on both sides. The invading Saxons took winter on the Isle of Thanet and there was comparative peace for some time. One of their hosts was known as ‘Neame’, another likened to ‘Sheppard’ and both, in partnership were to stay and settle and make great contribution to industry in the region of southeastern England at the edge of a secure tidal inlet in the north of Kent called Faversham.
471- A warrior in the service of King Ceretic of Strathclyde returned from a visit to a family member in the isle of Eire and talk of a dark liquid with exquisite creamy taste that is available in the counties. This report sparked off an exploratory raid that was repulsed by fervent defence and denied confirmation of the quality of the drink so cleverly used to bait King Ceretic, but speculation was further reinforced by the discovery that it was fermented by the renowned St Patrick’s and great recognition was thus afforded this legendary elixir.
496-550 - After the great victory at Mt Badon, the Saxon advance ran out of momentum and caused them to return to their strongholds to regroup and re-arm for a short period. During this lapse in hostilities a whole generation enjoyed a period of peace and tranquility, little knowing that it was but a thin veneer that concealed corrupt leadership, public apathy and after a short time, civil turmoil which opened the way for a final and conclusive Saxon incursion. With regret, having settled well into the countryside they harvested a crop that would yield an ingredient of more golden hue to the beverages enjoyed at that time and expanding their land mass could only enhance this.
530 - Remnants of the true Britons were defeated on the Isle of Wight at the Battle of Carisbrooke by King Cerdic of Wessex a wise leader who had seen the benefit of utilizing the skills and crafts of prisoners of war and captives. One such hostage was to become a respected resident on the mainland and took his name from one of the weathers elements ‘Gale’
549 - Brings a plague given the title of ‘Yellow death’ and decimates the population in both Britain and Ireland. However, for reasons yet unknown the Saxons were less affected and it can only be assumed it was the purity of their consumption and reticence to drink alien fluids that spared them from the contagious disease.
597 - Christianity was adopted and accepted by Rome reaches Britain delivered with great enthusiasm by St. Augustine, the missionary sent from Pope Gregory to convert the Saxons. Augustine founded a monastery and the first church at Canterbury, and was proclaimed its first Archbishop. It was not until the first anniversary of his cathedrals service that he admitted he selected this location having reliable information that partners Sheppard & Neame were nearing maximum distribution capacity of what they referred to as Holy Water.
731 – A British monk known respectfully as the Venerable Bede completes his written work on the history of the Church in England and, as a footnote records all the houses that he could locate that had a hop bush hung above the door, the so secret symbol of an alehouse that was generally unknown to the uninitiated. It was also noted that another aspect of the old Pagan ways still prevalent was the propensity for ales to be given the name ‘Hogsback’ in reverence to the wild boar that often adorned their war helms
735 - Shocked by the discovery of such covert demonic worship the Venerable Bede passed away quietly at night. Our pagan Nordic ancestors whether Angle; Saxon or Jute shared a passionate love of ale. Its consumption offered a cohesive meeting place in which to dream, plan and initiate more adventurous undertakings whilst revelling in the Mead-hall extending an activity that bonded chieftains to his followers. By the same token the importance of female input into those times was further recognized by their brewing the fine ales of the time and serving the drinks to their oft lubricated manhood allowing them to keep abreast of projects as yet unfolded.
As with the multitude of skills our female partners enjoyed, some were better at brewing than others. The more successful nutritious ales would be sold within their village, and close locality, whilst the increase in the reputation of the male of the household was greatly enjoyed, he looked on with great pride when the better ales were sometimes consumed in the family home and, as such, the informal alehouse was born.
However this arrangement was likely to be part-time or when the brewer had enough money to brew. We know that as early as the seventh century the number of ale-sellers was restricted by Ethelbert, the King of Kent, so perhaps the population was becoming a little too skilful at brewing.
Three centuries later, another King of Kent, Edgar, regulated the size of drinking vessels, which suggests that ale was served and drunk at a particular location. Incidentally this drinking vessel was shared and each measure was marked by a peg, requiring the drinker to drink down to the peg and then pass the vessel on. However the drinker often drank beyond the measure...taking the next drinker 'down a peg or two' an expression which is still used today.
The spread of Christianity did nothing to lessen the English thirst for ale and many Pagan rituals, which involved drinking were adopted by the Christian church. Ales were sometimes brewed especially for church festivals or to raise funds, these were known as 'scot ales', and those who brewed secretly to avoid giving the church its share were drinking 'scot free'.
793 - The first raids of the Norsemen commonly known as Vikings were first recorded in this year. These people were of Scandinavian origin, especially Denmark and Norway. Scandinavia at the time had a growing population and with inland areas inhospitable, the Vikings looked eagerly overseas for new territories to settle and wealth with which to fund such migration of whole families, even communities.
Not only did they require land to grow and develop crops for domestic needs, their lives were blighted by the mountainous terrain that prevented the propagation of wheat or malt, the essential ingredients of home brewed ale.
Those that remained in the land of their birth were to struggle against the elements and topography of the land with little more than their own families for comfort and if this were not enough, their government put such heavy tax on alcohol that a king’s ransom would be needed to consume even a modest amount or recreational ale.
Nevertheless, as fearsome as these warriors were they were artistic, talented and painstakingly clean of body, where hygiene and clean living was only wavered when rolling about drunk in the great mead halls in celebration of life and victory. Contrary to contemporary writings, they were a highly cultured collection of Norse races in contradiction of the only written word of their time, recorded by Christian clerics who saw them as a direct threat to their God and Holy directives from Rome.
865 AD - St. Edmund arrived in the fenland to become King of the East Angles and later the first patron saint of England. According to myth he was captured by Danes who demanded that he denounce his faith and give up his kingdom. The young and popular king refused and was bound to a tree, shot with arrows so that he looked like a hedgehog and then beheaded.
When the Danes departed the ex king’s loyal followers retrieved his body and searched for his head so that they could bury him but it could m not be found. Then one of the townspeople heard a calling voice form a copse nearby in which they found the head between the paws of a large grey wolf. His faith decried that it was God that sent the wolf to protect the head until the followers could retrieve it but a wolf such as Freki or Geri are more synominous to Odin, the pagan God of the Norsemen.
His body restored St Edmund was given a fitting memorial and in his honour the local ale was named after his religious station and was known from that time forward, as ‘Abbot Ale’.
885-886 - The Vikings is a term that loosely referred to those that were classed as sea raiders who were also prone to raid inland through the great rivers of Europe on down to the Black Sea and on to Constantinople, whilst still taking to the sea as far as Italy. These river raiders when embarked were considered to be going a ‘Rus-ing’ and as settlements along the river bank expanded those that dwelled there gave their region a name ‘Rus-sia’.
Ventures in search of riches oft took them up the river Seine to lay siege to the city ruled by King Charles the Fat of Paris, with Parisians feeling much besieged they fought hard and long to withstand the ferocity of the attacks they endured.
These highly adventurous people launched raids deep inland form river estuaries and inlets and in the year 884, they sailed down the river Seine and lay siege to the capital of France, ‘Paris’. Motivation being profit rather than slaughter would often bring a pause in the proceedings to allow negotiations to be introduced, and in this case, a major offer that was designed to prevent all future raids was extremely well received and negotiations ensued that gave the raiding Norsemen a large tract of land at the estuary of the River Seine in which to settle and propagate, in return for which, they were to obstruct and prevent further river raids laid down upon Paris. Hrolfganger, the great Viking warlord agreed readily and with great tribute set up a large community area named after his people. The Norsemen called Norsemandy or Normandy.
And thus came to a pass a new breed of warrior who took to the four legged horse in place of the sea horse. With direct lineage to English Kings, their offspring were to invade and take possession of lands in England in years to come. In the meantime a new style of warfare was practiced to a fine art and a solid line of defence evolved that was unknown at that time called a castle. The new homeland was fertile, intermarriage with European royalty expanded the area of influence and if that didn’t work, there was always the plain and simple conquest.
980 – The Danes renew their raids on England attacking Chester and Southampton, both locations being surprise to the crown of England as they were walled cities with strong defensive capabilities. Of course they were also fully supported by an abundance of domestic and fiscal buildings, amidst domestic dwellings and ancient hostelries.
991 - at the Battle of Malden: Byrhtnoth of Essex was defeated by Danish invaders and betrayed by AEthelred II who buys off the Danes with 10,000 pounds of silver (Danegeld). What the King of England dare not admit to his subjects was that the Danegeld included a substantial carted convoy of good English ale and mead. For to know of such treachery would be a betrayal of the very lives of men whose words in battle were thus:-
Byrhtwold spoke, shield raised aloft he was an old loyal retainer and brandished his spear; he very boldly commanded the warriors:
"Our hearts must grow resolute, our courage more valiant,
our spirits must be greater, though our strength grows less.
Here lies our Lord all hewn down, goodly he lies in the dust.
A kinsman mourns that who now from this battle-play thinks to turn away.
I am advanced in years. I do not desire to be taken away,
but I by my liege Lord, by that favorite of men I intend to lie."
So then did Aethelgar's child embolden them all, Godric to battle.
Often he sent forth spears, deadly shaft sped away onto the Vikings; thus, he on this people went out in front of battle, cutting down and smiting, until he too on battlefield perished.
Don’t argue, it’s your round!
992 - AEthelred makes a truce with Duke Richard Ist of Normandy who by now had acclimatised himself largely to drinking the local wines, but he secretly knew his thirst could never be quenched until he could secure supplies of his favoured fluids called ‘Harvey’s’ brewed in the county of the East Saxons in a town called Lewes. An earlier visit of diplomatic origin caused the first tasting and the firm promise to create a stronghold there to defend those that could create such amber nectar.
994 - Danes under Sweyn and Norwegians under Olaf Trygvesson combine forces and sail up the river Thames to besiege London where AEthelred bought them off as the cheapest option. It was with bitter experience that Danegeld was paid as can be illustrated by the ancient poem known as ‘London Bridge is falling down.
The oldest record of this children’s rhyme takes it back to Roman times where the first bridge forging the river was constructed of timber and clay and some hundreds of years later, it was literally torn down by ravaging Vikings.
It was recorded that they constructed a great awning over the whole rowing deck and placed hides and shields to act as a roof covering. Then, knowing the citizens of London would hurl, rocks, weapons, empty beer barrels and other weights of potential harm, they were protected from above as they rowed under the bridge. Once on the landward side they tied grappling hooks to the columns of the bridge and rowed for all they were worth until the bridge collapsed under the strain. Soon after it was reconstructed with defensive towers and stood in good stead right up to the Dutch incursions of the late seventeen hundreds.
Marauding armies were to settle in a designated tract of land that became known and was supervised under the loose title of the ‘Danelaw’ and it was during that time that the most horrendous racist attack on these shores was perpetrated when the Saxons conspired and conducted the killing of all Danes regardless of age or sex if discovered anywhere outside of their designated region. This became known as the St. Brice’s day massacre by the English in 1002.
Much affronted vengeance would come later, but in the meantime, they strengthened their hold on the eastern tracts of England where the better beers were produced under the pagan God known as Greene King and so it remains to this day
1015 - Canute again invades England and war ensues between Danes and Saxons in the year after Edmund Ironside, son of AEthelred II, King of England divided the kingdom with Canute. The latter holding the north and Edmund Wessex but soon after Edmund is assassinated and Canute becomes King of England until the year of our Lord 1035. In the interim, in 1019 he contracts a political marriage with Emma of Normandy, the widow of AEthelred II. In national celebration, Inns and Hostelries stayed open for a whole weekend as revelry echoed freely across the land as such a marriage implied peace might at last come to these troubled shores
1040 - Any man with Viking blood in his veins dreams of death most glorious in battle. However, if one should die at sea in a long ship, then provided you wore a silver ring in your ear, you could buy your way into Valhalla. One other death was acceptable to all and sundry and Hardicanute died in these glorious settings, he died of drink in 1042. ‘Was hael - trinc hael’. It was this year that Edward the Confessor, son of AEthelred II, became King of England.
1052 - Edward the Confessor instructs the foundations of Westminster Abbey be laid and in the following year the influential magnate Earl Godwin departs his mortal coil and his oldest son, Harold succeeds him as Earl of Wessex, whilst his brother Tostig becomes Earl of Northumbria in 1055. Sibling rivalry of the most profound impact was to begin during this year and finally be resolved at the site of bridge in Yorkshire
1063 - The two brothers Harold and Tostig subdue Wales most viciously and out of sheer spite were to open the taps of ‘Ansel’ breweries to run free in the streams and add petulance that might slay Welsh farmers livestock.
1064 - William the Bastard of Normandy’s grandfather had been part of the retinue that was granted dominance over the land surrounding the estuary leading to the river Seine in Norsemandy and he shared indirect blood lineage to the Confessor. Nonetheless, that inheritance would soon come home to its bearer and the final invasion of Norsemen would impose their will upon the land that their ancestors had failed to subdue.
Meanwhile Harold on a journey of diplomatic cause was shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy and is taken captive by less understanding peoples. When hearing of this William negotiates his release to his own cognisance and acts as genial host to his cousin form across the channel. William cajoles him to support his own claim to the English throne. At the same time Harold and his entourage escort William and his army on campaigns to subdue invaders and each learn something of the others skills and tactics.
Whilst his captivity or moral ransom may well have been somewhat cordial, the measure of the man was made in contest whilst fighting with his host against opposing French knights. As for his skill and manner, he seemed uncomfortable with courtly etiquette and stood much taller when offered the rare and sought after ales from home. It was at this time that William displayed complete disregard for the well being of his mounted knights when he simply ignored the plight of one such warrior who had found himself stuck fast and sinking in a quagmire of mud. Without thought for his own well being Harold was said to have rushed to his aid along with several of his personal retinue and both man and horse were duly rescued.
With no small degree of self-righteousness, William had attempted and failed to persuade Harold of his claim upon the demise of the King to the English throne and some said he swore an oath upon holy relics to uphold that claim. However, this claim remained unproven and heartily denied by the king as well as those in his service and present whilst guest of this magnanimous regional Kingdom. Meanwhile something caused his host to release his distant cousin to return back to England which cannot help offering credence to the ‘Bastards’ claim and the event was to be recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry as if this gave it credence to such claim when mans word or recount did not suffice.
Viking legacy evolved in many place names but more discreet yet highly significant evidence of their legacy was to continue in these shores for a thousand years or more. Writing has been said to be the legacy of Monks and priests but they were not the only ones who recorded the recipe for good ales in these lands and whilst Latin made major influence, Viking writing and its symbolism took a most uncanny hue over the course of time. For example, every piece of military wares, worn in defence of these shores is ink stamped with what is known as the ‘Broad arrow’. A simple three lined arrow facing and pointing skyward but without flights.
In Viking times this was known as the Tyre Rune or the letter ’T’ and its significance represented victory in the name of Pagan Gods. So was it superstition that has been carried to victory over the centuries by our brave serving troops or something else? Think on that over a pint and see tis but one of many runes that exist today in our alphabet and offer pagan protection to those that understand it.
1065 – Whilst Harold enjoyed his brief sojourn in Normandy his brother Tostig ruled over his lands in Northumbria with an iron fist and a greedy hand. Local tolerance was stretched to its limit and men unable to live with his excesses rebelled against Tostig, who had acted appallingly against the women folk of his region. Frequently under the influence of ‘York Brewery’ ales and in a bleak state of balance and physical control he was fortunate to escape threat of life to be banished and cast out as an exile.
1066 – The decade was to see the birth of many legends of men’s prowess with few that could equal that accomplished by one of the greatest Viking warlords known was Harald Hardrada and was king of Norway from 1047 to 1066. He was the last of the great Viking aristocratic rulers whose fame extended throughout Europe, yet campaigned further to the Greek islands, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Palestine, Sicily, and Bulgaria. Whilst being resilient, resourceful, cunning and persevering he was more than willing to turn to treachery as a means of victory and was both vengeful, and cruel.
The mere mention of his name brought men to quiver with fear and the sight of his standard, the famed "Land-waster" became a portent of doom and destruction
All protagonists to the throne had indirect lineage to King Canute and by this claim alone they made further claim to the throne of England that could only be resolved by conflict. Thus Hardrada chose to stake his claim on England and to enforce his birthright he arrived with a fleet of some three hundred longships on the northeast coastline. Establishing a bridgehead his main fleet was left under guard and with the greater part of his manpower he rowed up the river Ouse to give battle to a force of local fyrdsmen at Fulford Bridge.
To celebrate this victory and following a banquet in York, he embarked with his Norwegian force of some 7,000 men to rest and recuperate at Stamford Bridge. Not full used to good English ale many suffered hangovers from the revelry the previous night and were not well ready to address the scene of a bright shining reflection moving slowly across the peak of a hill coming steadfastly toward them. This light was the suns reflection upon the body armour and war helms of Harold Godwinsons’ army having been mustered in the south and made all haste northward over two hundred and thirty miles to take on the great warlord.
With scant regard for the withering march northward Harold Godwinson strode energetically with head high and chest proud toward the opposing army to be confronted by his banished, brother Tostig.
Banished and resentful Tostig had arrogantly joined forces with the Viking captain in return for a promise of his lands being restored to him, but now, his brother was King, and jealousy added bitterness to his cause, yet not so to betray the identity of his brother of whom he asked what Hardrada might expect as settlement if a battle could be averted, whereupon King Harold's voice grew stern and answered,
"He shall have seven feet of English ground for a grave, or a little more perhaps, as he is so much taller than other men."
"Then," said the earl, "go and tell King Harold to get ready for battle, for it shall never be said that Tostig brought his friend to England to betray him."
Then the brothers separated for the last time, sad and angry each rode back to his own side and destiny.
Swift talk and fast anger did not reconcile Hardrada’s annoyance at learning from Tostig that he had been addressing his brother and not an emissary, but regardless of distraction, he barked orders to his war captains to make ready and they gathered what weaponry to hand and formed a deep shield wall to the eastern side of the river Ouse.
Meanwhile a brave, lone Viking stood rock solid in the centre of the single horse bridge swigging cool ale so that it slurped over the edges of the drinking horn and dribbled glittering through his straggly long beard. He was a giant of a man of enormous stature, dwarfing even Harold Hardrada (putting him at over 2 metres in height) and he simply terrified the English army. Worse still was the gleeful look in his eye as he beckoned Saxon warriors to step forward to meet their maker. Some raced forward with anger that concealed effrontery but such temperament would offer no shield to the cutting edge of his axe and as each man fell they created a natural barrier of quivering flesh at the feet of this man giant.
The bridge remained un-assailable for over an hour until finally a resourceful Saxon took to a coracle and thrust a spear from below so savagely that it shattered whilst delivering his deathblow. From that time on the Saxon became known, as ‘Brakspeare’ and his family were to settle with honour in that land and be the ancestor of a fine family of yorkshiremen.
The battle was fierce and not much helped by the hangovers of revelry from the night before. King Harald Hardrada took an arrow through the throat leaving a second entry where ale may be consumed and Godwinson won the day. Survivors were so few that they returned to their homeland in scant thirty ships that bore the body of the chieftain’s son, whilst his retinue pledged troth to ne’er return to these shores. As was oft the case, the bodies of the fallen lay unattended but for pilfering and raven feasting. The bones much whitened over the next three years just faded into time.
Enthusiastic consumption of the ‘Smith’ brother’s ale that night was rudely disturbed when a breathless messenger delivered the knowledge that William of Normandy had landed at Pevensey bay an Old Saxon Shore fort where he established a safe and solid beachhead. Well entrenched he sent strong mounted contingents inland to burn and plunder as a deliberate act of intimidation to draw his opponent, Harold Godwinson into battle. Furthermore, to ensure his troops of mixed European origin did not falter in their task, he had the landing fleet of some six hundred ships sunk to prevent any weakness in resolve or thought or opportunity of retreat. Bodies still warm in the long grass of Yorkshire and William of Norsemandy had launched a vicious and merciless quest to goad a battle with Harold and do it on his own terms.
Harold’s thoughts went out to determine a meeting point in which to muster yet another army and selected the location of an old grey hoare apple tree. Well known in the region this most distinctive, gnarled and aged trunk had born witness to invasions and incursions into this land by a multitude of cultures, leaving traditions and customs as legacy aplenty of their arrival. And effectively the anticipated engagement was perhaps the culmination of a long and bloody campaign of the northern races which had begun with invasion and expanded into settlement and migration nearly four hundred years prior.
Cultural incursions transformed the nation into one that was becoming known as Angle-land or England, but transition had not evolved to the extent that petty feuds and wars continued between one region and another across this still somewhat divided land. Ingredients and secret additions for respective ales were jealously defended. True, there was slow and steady increase in the democracy and representation of its people that national government strove hard to implement. But the tenacity in which the Angles and Saxons held on to the concept of freedom and self-reliance was unequaled.
Continued division however had impact upon what support could be called upon from different regions and in the absence of acceptable beers, it was almost impossible to attract the support of the men of Mercia or Anglesey to offer a cohesive and unified defence against a common enemy. Family rivalry was divisive and conflict ridden and whilst factions concentrated their venom on each other, it served only to compound more widespread descent and rivalry between one region and another. All too often feuds stemmed from ancestral disputes of high station where the cause or reason had been lost in the passage of time. However loyalty continued the momentum and regional communities supported them even if they did not always know why.
Even religion at this time was still unstable and divisive as ancient pagan beliefs based upon nature and things that were tenable fought for survival in the expansion of Christianity, already one thousand years in the coming but yet to be fully adopted or accepted.
With drunken protestation Harold mustered his surviving Huscarls and loyal fyrdsmen to race south hoping to increase his number as he travelled. His force was heavily diminished as the men of the north opted to revel in their victory, bury their dead, rebuild their homesteads and take succour in the provisions left open to them after the raid. This ill conceived act would cost dear as the northern fyrdsmen’s absence would prove sorely missed in a struggle that was within a fairly short period of time to engulf them and destroy all that they had held dear. Short sightedness, simple fatigue and dehydration caused by alcohol had manifested a soft option and physical extraction from the yet unknown peril in the south. The long march south was grueling to say the least and messengers were deployed to try to raise another army and meet at the designated place in advance of the new King.
After a forced march the vista was broken by the plumes of smoke that scarred the horizon in white billowing mists that emitted from earth’s natural produce either on land or field or thatched roof of home.
Thoughts of loved ones, intertwined with confusion and concern over the scant news that reached the ranks, which were intermittently disturbed by the arrival of a growing number of individual and groups of fyrdsmen. There were familiar faces acknowledged by a simple nod of the head or casual wave of hand which seemed to suffice. Nevertheless, their arrival yielded another source of broken information. There desperate refugees bore witness to that fact that William had ordered the harrying of the land and burning of farmsteads in the home county of the king.
A loud buzz of indistinct, varied dialects and accents spread across the fast growing muster as they caught sight of the increasing army and gave resolute cheer to welcome the far too distant mass yet unable to hear them. It was hard to determine how many had gathered as the number increased steadily amidst the prone figures stretched out from one field to another. By recognition alone, individuals joined familiar faces and introduced early signs of natural organisation and cohesive groups of men preferring to fight alongside each other.
That said, it was ancient custom and belief causing common knowledge of the location of a specific hoare apple tree. It had been a known meeting point for generations in that region and was considered to mark an ancient pagan site, with pagan origins that had disappeared in the mists of time. But, for the moment, musing on all that had preceded this day was no more than a mental diversion of the sobriety of what may soon transpire in those hallowed fields.
The call to arms gained momentum as Harold’s force gathered on the prow of the hill to the welcoming roar of the ever-increasing retinue. Many took comfort by purchasing rich golden ales being sold by opportunist traveling salesmen, whilst with eager eye, each head turned to witness the Long Man banner being unfurled and risen on the peak of the highest point. Its presence indicating without word a muster of regional commanders being naturally drawn to the direct vicinity, where quite clearly, a council of war would ensue. Other standards flew proudly on that crest including the wyvern being of tubular design like a windsock and the raven banner captured at Stamford Bridge.
Outriders thundered toward them with pony’s nostrils steaming and bodies dripping sweat with the urgency of passage. Reports of local scorched earth and wanton slaughter reached the ears of the area’s prime figurehead, the king himself. His rage was heartfelt yet silent in mind, as each act of cruelty strengthened his resolve to repel this heartless enemy. Strong encouragement for victory may well serve the call to victory over the invading forces, but anger shrouded judgement and could blot out good sense in place of vengeance.
Quite obviously this was a battle of conquest, no quarter given or expected and the largely mercenary army William had mustered, reveled in the promissory expectation of land, riches and profuse quantities of the golden amber nectar, as their chosen master spread his tentacles of power across this fertile land held even then, in great esteem.
It had also been rumoured that William had declared this a Holy Crusade and bore the blessed banner given his host in Papal protection from the Vatican in Rome. A gift from the Pope, whose ambition of expansion knew no boundaries or limits, especially with the potential revenue having marketing control over English recreational drinks and abundant fertile soil that could yield nutritious ingredients. Still further no less than a major weapon given to his arsenal with the promise of Holy redemption in excuse of violent invasion. William had recruited manpower from the territories of Charlemagne as well as Saxon lands and the multitude of Germanic tribal origins, all under the protection of the Holy Cross.
Effectively, the cultures of middle Europe, with strong essence of Celtic, Nordic and Germanic blood lines had been partially displaced by the Angles and Saxons in this land and were now in effect coming home to the place formerly inhabited by their forefathers. This racial lineage and religious quest added strength of will and purpose to the marauding army, whose prowess was yet untested and battle tactics untried. Unity and obedience would be a key factor in taking on a home grown army such as this.
Knowing the region well Harold has selected the high ground upon which to deploy his growing force of defendants and as they formed into a shield wall that was ten men deep, the breadth of the force spread firmly across the crest of the hill to become known as Senlac (the lake of blood). Whilst Williams forces paced steadily across their front and formed into three distinct phalanxes’ to turn and face their foe just prior to dropping to knee in receipt ort prayer and mantins from a cluster of monks led by one who was clearly a bishop. Four thousand or so were sat on horse and bowed their head in reverence or removed their helmet in mark of respect.
Numbers seemed fairly equal, albeit the Norman host was much boosted by a great number of mounted knechts (Knights) as was the way of European conflict and much shuffling ensued at the outset. To break the monotony a lone knight known as Taillefer took it upon himself to lay encouragement at the feet of his fellow knights and galloped jubilantly to the fore of the mustered Norman hoist and recited ‘The song of Rou’ whilst juggling his sword high skyward as he went.
Affronted by the audacity of this lone Norman a Saxon warrior strode forward and offered challenge where conflict ensued, but the encounter was short and the Normans reputation enhanced further as he dispatched his adversary with relative ease and returned quite casually to his recital.
Taillefer, qui mult bien chantout,
Sor un cheval qui tost alout,
Devant le duc alout chantant
De Karlemaigne e de Rollant,
E d’Oliver a des vassals
Qui morurent en Rencesvals.
Roman de Rou, lines 8013–8019
I include but a segment as it would appear that the author is either dyslexic or Welsh.
The song not short was received with great enthusiasm and upon its completion he charged headlong up the hill of Senlac and straight into the solid liden wood shield wall that swallowed both man and mount to close upon him to his total disappearance. This brave act of sacrifice and suicide aroused the hearts of the invading army as his quest was accompanied by a great roar of approval that would give way over the centuries to an immortal act of great repute.
At one point the right hand flank of the Norman army, the Bretons broke rank and fled with great haste away from the solid wall of wood and steel. The less disciplined left flank of the Saxon host gave way to testosterone and entered into frenzied pursuit but were thankfully halted under the course command of Hakon, King Harolds brother and the line regrouped.
King William gained sight of this seemingly insignificant incident and raised his helm to his forehead to take a clearer view of a ruse that formed slowly in his mind. He recalled somewhat humourassly that the only time he had seen such enthusiastic race of mankind between one place and another was upon a former visit to Edward the Confessor when in an ale house he witnessed the panic that followed the bell which rang last orders
Further assaults ensued by enthusiastic riders whose weight alone did not falter or sway the strength of the Saxon shield wall. Favour went to one side then the other and archers were used to no great avail due to the steady incline and solid wall of shields to detract arrows path. Cavalry failed to break the line and the long exhausting conflicted raged throughout the day until light began slowly and perhaps thankfully to fade.
The ploy William conceived earlier would now be implemented as a line of Normans assailers faltered and the eager but weary Saxons took advantage in foolishly breaking the defensive line to pursue the fleeing foe. Instantly William’s keen eye took the opportunity and directed his cavalry to cut them off and slaughter them to a man. Helplessly, their Saxon comrades looked on dismayed and the final decline and loss was set in motion.
Harold had witnessed the strength and shock value of Williams’s use of men on horse and whilst the Saxon way was inherent from the Vikings, horses were used as transport only. A good warrior fought with his feet firmly placed on the ground. Harold also knew that William had witnessed the power of his Huscarls and axmen, but had not really experienced the strength and tenacity inherent with an Anglo Saxon shield wall.
The value of archery was as yet undeveloped, but many short bows existed as rural use for hunting game and ease of acquisition. Several wagon loads of arrows had been ordered and arrived for dispersal amongst the lower ranks of farm hands and fyrdsmen. The number of arrows distributed was considered adequate bearing in mind the minimal belief held in the value of them in hand to hand contest.
As dusk showed sign of altering the colour of the horizon William ordered his archers to loose high into the sky launching a black cloud of Norman arrows blanking out the sun as they rained down on the heads of the weary warriors. And whilst Harold was rigorously defended by his Hus Carls he was mercilessly cut down with arrow injury to his face and simply butchered. The day was Williams and fighting had lasted some eight hours.
All this over a spilled pint!
As a man of vision William instructed that an Abbey be built on the site and knew that in the fullness of time this would become a place of pilgrimage and curiosity, and thus an abbey might profit by its goods and chattels until a town grew up and Inns supported the needs of those that would become known as tourists.
Although the last substantial attack by Viking settlers came in the form of the Normans or Norsemen in 1066, the very last raid recorded within the Kingdoms of Britain was at Largs in Scotland in 1220. Much dis-satisfied with the acidic tang to Scottish ale, they retired to return to their homeland to recoup then to migrate to distant shores of Iceland or Greenland as season allowed.
1067 – At the very outset of his occupation William embarked upon a campaign of constructing what would become four thousand castles. A whole new concept to the English and a clear and certain signal that William was going to defend vantage points and good watering holes for the duration and nothing would challenge that. Perhaps as a caution, he also introduced small but significant part of folklore and mythology by installing Ravens in the grounds of The White Tower, soon to become the Tower of London. Ravens were the message givers of Odin as Hugin and Munin kept the Allfather informed of all that happened on earth, both past and present. Now it is said that should the ravens leave the Tower then England would fall, so their wings are clipped and they are kept ill informed of the traitorous and treacherous acts of modern government.
1069 – Total conquest was not secured in great measure until 1069 when in order to set an example William subdued the north of England in an action that became known as the "Harrying of the North” where the whole region was laid to waste. Not a living, breathing thing was to survive his vengeance but the memories of richer things survived and ale houses rebuilt on the embers of burnt out cottages and homes. In the rest of the country, he administered justice without compassion yet was not prone to hanging as a form of punishment but took to lopping of hands to no longer hold a pint mug, and thus serve as a walking lesson of his power and rough justice for all to see.
1072 - William receives the submission of Hereward the Wake who had led a Saxon revolt lasting two years in the fens and thus Norman retinues were free to consume some of the best ales of the land made by Greene King in Bury St Edmunds. The romantic adventures of Hereward were to lend license to later folk heroes such as Robin Hood, but he did have one major advantage in conserving all that was good in the fenlands and ensuring its produce supped well for the decades that followed.
1080 - Much in character William, in a letter to the bishop of Rome states that as the King of England he owes him no allegiance, by which he dismissed and ignored the favour of Pope’s dispensation by blessing his Crusading banner. William’s quest was all but complete and his need for Papal support diminished, whilst in the meantime he made no secret of his increasing need for good English ale to the annoyance of his immediate entourage
1086 - William the Conqueror instructed the collating of a national record of every man, woman, pig and child as well as cottages, churches, alehouses and Inns were recorded in his newly acquired kingdom. This first national record was called the Domesday Book and the very first ‘Good Beer Guide’.
1087 - he embarked upon a crusade in Europe . He had attempted to capture the French town of Mantes, where the king, "who was very corpulent, fell ill from exhaustion and heat." William of Malmesbury, reported that William’s stomach protruded over the forward part of his saddle, and his beer gut suffered an injury when he was thrown against the pommel and his internal organs ruptured. William retired to Rouen and his health deteriorated until death and an un-gamely funeral without respect or favour.
1099 - Since Christianity first reached the shores of Great Britain, Jerusalem had been accepted as the Holy centre of the faith and to ensure this location remained safe within the hands of Christian Europe Godfrey of Bouillon was elected King of Jerusalem. This seemed expedient at the time as alternative religions hovered in close proximity to the city refused all consumption of alcohol and evolved a lucrative trade which had the poppy as the main ingredient offering light relief to traveling pilgrims to the city.
1113 - Founding of the Order of St. John is formally acknowledged by the papacy as the formal defenders of the Holy land. Descendants from this organisation can be seen every weekend as the St John’s Ambulance Brigade offering help and succor to the needy after closing time.
1118 - Hugues de Payens founds the order of Knights of Templar’s who were to offer great assistance to the Order of St John in defending the rights of Crusaders to make refreshments whilst resting from their journey.
1189 - saw the Saracen under the enigmatic leader Saladin lay siege to all Christian strongholds in the Middle East. Such a threat was much compounded by the fact that the religious edict from whence came his beliefs excluded all consumption of alcohol in totality. The result of this was the army of England being raised by the legendry Richard IIIrd, or Richard the Lionhearted to defend Christendom against this ludicrous and alien concept.
1215 - English barons force John to agree to a statement of rights by the signing of the Magna Carta. This document was the forerunner of democracy and became the basis of multiple legal documents including the Bill of Rights in the U.S.A., whereby each mans property was protected and his right of access to produce products indigenous to the land. It was however quite a racist document but in redemption it offered free trade and commerce with such national treasures as ale. Such considerations of global import may well have been influenced by the fact that it was written and composed in the East Anglian town of Bury St Edmunds boasting the birth place of such a declaration as well as the national brewery producing Green King fine ales, the actual word ale coming from the Old English ‘Alu’ from a prehistoric Indo-European word for ‘bitter’.
Did you know?; The superstition where an individual fears bad luck should they walk under a ladder goes back to medieval times. It was during these times that officers representing the law started the quant habit When a person was to be hung, they would place a ladder against a tree or overhead beam, and the victim would be forced up the ladder by men with sharp weapons, then the noose put in place and the ladder twisted from under the feet of the victim who would tumble to his death.
Licensing laws were unfixed at these primitive times but enforced by force of arms and severe landlords.
1256 - Since Saxon times Kings and the Godwinsons had aspirations to capture and possess the green hills of Wales, whose indigenous people had sought independence for just as long and when the combination of fresh mountain water was combined with alcoholic beverages, the Welsh sovereign thought he had access to an asset that all in Europe would seek to secure, and as such, gave momentum to the quest for independence and fiscal autonomy. Strongly supported by his people Prince Llewellyn swept the English from Wales. However the Regent, ever curious about the claims regarding the water defeats and kills Llewellyn and executes Llewellyn's brother David and the conquest of Wales was completed in 1283
1295 - Model Parliament was initiated for the first time by Edward I, who summoned knights and burgesses from the English shires and towns to act as representatives in parliament. Such an extreme measure instrumented by the crown was seen as a means of monitoring the growth of influence being exereted by landlords and landladies of public houses.
Did you know? The origin of the saying ‘Pull the other one!’ comes from a time when hangings were public spectacles and a victim might well hope a member of his family, or friend would attend the hanging and pull on one or other of his legs to break his neck to avert the slow and painful death by strangulation.
1336 - Edward places an embargo on English exports of wool to Flanders, or so the public were told, the truth being that he had opened negotiations to provide much of Europe with English beer in an attempt to avert continued attacks upon its sovereignty to simply steal such valuables. However his attempt went in vain and in 1337 Philip declares Edward's fiefs forfeit and begins harassing the frontiers of Aquitaine; Edward III, provoked by these attacks on his territories in France, declares himself king of France and "The Hundred Years' War " begins.
1337-1453 - The two main causes of friction between the two nations was Flemish trade, being dependant on English wool, and Gascony, held by the kings of England as vassals of the kings of France. The exact nature of that relationship had caused conflict before, but the Hundred Years War was intensified by Edward III's claim to the French throne.
The war had been triggered by the confiscation of Gascony by Philip VI, although that had been done before as a diplomatic ploy, and had not led to long drawn out conflicts. This time, there were other causes of friction between the two nations, not least of which was French support for the Scots, which culminated in the movement of a large French fleet from Marseilles to Normandy, considered by English tacticians as possibly in preparation to aid the Scots.
These political machinations could not be tolerated in the light of the failed expansion into Europe of the Royal House of England and the vain attempt to cease the lily livered creation of grape fields for wine creation with the more sturdy and acceptable fields of hops and malt to brew into good English beer, even to the extent of nurturing the crop with the rich natural compost in French soil.
Re-educating the inhabitants of France remained unsuccessful but they rarely wasted an opportunity to plunder English Trade convoys of the amber nectar when their passage could be determined. Several audacious raids were engaged at the place names of Poitier and Crecy but the most sombre name of all must be near a castle known as Azencour
Did you know? Graveyards were filling up and local people started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, one out of twenty five coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive.
So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to bell. Someone would then sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell.
Thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."
Nowt to do with last orders.
1340 - Naval victory at Sluys gives England the command of the English Channel; English Parliament passes four statutes providing that taxation shall be imposed only by Parliament and the first statute increased revenue gathered from respective breweries and distilleries. Meanwhile ale for export neared 50% of the national total.
1346 - Edward III of England invades France with a large army and defeats an even bigger army under Philip VI at the Battle of Crecy.
Did you know? Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married
1347 - The English capture Calais and consider it good foresight in extending influence into French soil for future generations of white van drivers. Whilst in reverse records dating back to the 15th century show that almost half of the ships' cargoes taken across the North Sea and the Baltic Sea were barrels of beer.
In 1415 - the surly French sought to attack an English convoy in transit and ranged a force of knights and men-at-arms to seize the convoy and all its contents. As was the way with opponents of this nation their number was unfair and exaggerated when ranged against the English force. French forces equaled some 35,000 opposed to 4,000 men of England. Fortunately, the greater number of Englishmen was versed in that deadly weapon the longbow. The most fortunate aspect of this vicious yet efficient weapon of war was that sobriety played no part in its devastating passage of death.
The struggle was fierce and unrelenting but the warlord Henry Vth made one serious mistake, he had guarded prisoners held captive near to the baggage train where the English ale was stored to sustain his troops. Incensed by the wanton risk upon their golden fluids, the men slaughtered their captives with complete disregard for ransom and wealth, in the stead of beer rationing or worse still, denial. Yet none knew the outcome of the main engagement but for the admission of such losses by the French heralds. Then with great relief, the battle was won and men of England would raise their glasses to those that fought so bravely upon St Crispin’s Day.
From such carnage came these immortal words.
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
that do no work to-day!
KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for ale,
Nor care I who doth feed as well as ale;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more ale!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is name'd,
and rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing jugs freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
To dally but for moment, let it be known that each city was taxed so many cartfuls of arrows to support this action and did so willingly, with one particular city providing an abundance of both arrows and manpower. In reward for their contribution Swindon was granted, by decree, the right to produce celebratory ale with the name of ‘Archers’ to commemorate their wilful input of man and arrow into the victory.
An order for a refill by airmail!
Did you know? Lead cups or glasses were used to drink wine, ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait to see whether or not they would wake up.
Hence the custom of holding a "wake."
1455 -1487- The War of The Roses came about due to rivalry between senior magnates in Lancashire and Yorkshire which had lasted as far back as the Late Romano British period and the later playing host to the two rival brothers formerly known as Hengist and Horsa made the dispute just that little bit more contentious. On the surface the loose recognition of the dispute could be viewed as a White and a Red Rose but in the end a whole dynasty of the Royal line was to lay prone in death as the transition of Royalty spread from the Stuarts of Scotland to the Royal Prince of Wales, Henry Tudor or Harri as his retainers would know him.
Never before had such events had such impact upon whole family lineages as the Battle of Bosworth field. One instance was the mass treachery of regional armies such as the Stanley’s when the tides of battle changed and wavered during that bloody conflict of on 22 August in the year of our Lord 1485. Whole families were torn asunder on that fateful day when the brewing dynasty of ‘William Smith’ and ‘John Smith’ fought on different sides of the field. Not only the communities of the North were affected by this great struggle but also the whole country and the issue of precedence lay naked lifeless and dead on a brewers cart as the corpse was ignominiously paraded for all to see at the end of hostilities, his head banging and thudding on the cobbled streets of the city in its passage.
Did you know? In the 1400's a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have 'the rule of thumb'
1536 - The Dissolution of the Monasteries commenced in April 1536 during King Henry VIIIth's reign; there were over 800 monasteries, abbeys, nunneries and friaries that were home to over 10,000 monks, nuns, friars and canons. By April 1540, there were none. The instruction by the King was based upon the fact that they were independent, and could organise and control their own finances. At the same time growing sums of money were being sent for dispensation to Rome and denying the host country substantial revenue. Power within English monasteries was not the King, but the heads of respective monasteries and the monks were able to make decisions independent of government. Moreover many monasteries remained loyal to the Catholic religion, but above all each monastery had cultivated their extensive lands for several centuries and created world famous ciders and meads that they denied to him and its most important revenue and this quite simply, could not be tolerated.
1549 - The Prayer Book Rebellion in the Act of Unification made it illegal as from Whit Sunday of that year, to use the Latin Prayer Book. This was replaced by an English translation, whereby few of the Cornish people spoke English and were particularly affected by this new legislation.
The villagers of Sampford Courtenay in Devon raised the most vociferous objection and began what has also come to be known as the 'Western Rebellion'. Joined by hundreds of villagers from all over Devon and Cornwall they marched on Crediton and occupied it.
In London, King Edward VI (Henry VIII's son) and his Privy Council became alarmed by the news from the West Country and he promptly ordered one of the Privy Councilors, Sir Gawain Carew to pacify the rebels. At the same time, Lord John Russell was ordered to take an army, composed mainly of German and Italian mercenaries, and impose a military solution.
The mercenary arquebusiers known as Landsknechts from Germany and Italy subsequently killed over a thousand rebels at Crediton, then murdered 900 unarmed people at Clyst St Mary. 1300 more people were slaughtered at Sampford Courtenay and 300 died at Fenny Bridges. Unused to Royal power the king being a child at the time, gave further orders to be issued by the Lord Protector, the Earl of Somerset, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for the continuance of the onslaught on the local populace. Under Sir Anthony Kingston, English and mercenary forces moved into Cornwall and summarily executed or murdered many people before the bloodshed finally ceased. Proposals to translate the Prayer Book into Cornish were also suppressed.
Essentially the translation brought to question the interpretation of taking wine or holy nectar and this played a major role in the young kings will to engage European mercenary armies. Acutely aware that they would not engage in pillage of the townships being unaccustomed to good beer being that much less advanced than their English counterparts. Absence of family ties made these aliens to these shores less willing to indulge in bribery and favoured treatment but when caught unawares during those inevitable spells of military occupation, they were to suffer the most horrible of deaths at the hands of the populace with last rites being administered with Watney’s Red Barrel.
Regardless of the violence these times bore witness to beer making remaining mainly a family operation and had little commercial application. However, it was certainly an integral part of everyday diet. Ladies-in-waiting at the court of Henry VII were allowed a gallon of beer for breakfast alone.
Queen Elizabeth, when travelling through the country, always sent couriers ahead to taste the local ale and if it didn't measure up to the quality required, a supply would be shipped from London upon her instruction.
William Shakespeare's father was a recognised ale-tester or "conner". The "conner" conveyed his responsibility by pouring some upon a bench and sitting on it while drinking the rest. If there were sugar in the ale, or it was impure, his leather breeches would stick after sitting for half an hour or so and this quality control was further served.
The Dean of St Paul’s, in the 16th century, is credited with the invention of bottled ale. Dr Alexander Norwell put beer in a bottle when he went fishing and left the bottle in the grass. Returning some years later he found the cork came away with an explosion but the taste and quality of the beer was still good.
Did you know? In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes.
When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... 'good night, sleep tight.'
1588 - The Spanish Armada was defeated by the English fleet under Lord Howard of Effingham, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John Hawkins: war between Spain and England continues until 1603. It cannot be denied that the weather was on our side when the armada set sail, it subsequently blew them of course and caused its own natural casualties due to its severity.
When the Royal Navy did draw down upon them there was one other factor that had major detrimental impact upon the Spanish mariners ability to repel any attacks they sustained. Perhaps over confidence in the skill and strength of his fleet caused the King of Spain to promote a land general to control the Armada and whilst this might have benefit after the successful landing of troops, it became a major impediment whilst sailing the rough seas, worse still engaging an experienced and skilled opponent such as the English.
With land war in mind he commanded great siege guns be placed on the deck of the Spanish galleons. These weapons had no trajectory and would have served to knock down a castle door or open an unwilling ale house on their journey, but was useless at sea. This decision alone proved disastrous as it denied a whole gun deck any practical use in the defence of each vessel. This fact yet unknown to Sir Francis Drake, he finished his bowls match and slowly consumed his ale prior to setting to sea, where he soon took count of their error and made full use of it.
Opening times was sometimes hotly disputed!
1605 - The Gunpowder Plot where Guy Fawkes and other Roman Catholic conspirators fail in attempt to blow up Parliament and James I. Had this doom laden attempt been successful, the taking of Holy wine might well have caused difficulties for the more traditional holy water attainable in Inns and hostelries in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster and Parliament and the profits from the cider industry may well have been diverted to Rome as had been the case prior to the ‘reformation’.
1642 to 1651 – of all the conflicts the world has endured this particular little island and the changes the English Civil War was to bring about regarding democracy, government and political parliament were profound at the most global of levels. Superficially and with tunnel vision academics will tell you that it came about in pursuit of true democracy and that implementation of this in the first instance was the reduction of Royal power being all but dictatorial. Repealing laws that evoked a power likened only to that of Godliness was simply a means of transfer and whilst one individual in the person of Regent was to be replaced by political parties, their allegiance in the course of time could be questioned. When finally ratified it was to influence the birth of nations and the expanse of progress under the mystical, elusive banner of democracy. Above all, it paved the way for enormous abuse of power by government and religions over alleged civilizations of western origin.
Over the fullness of time acts of parliament would be passed that would influence the creation of the American Bill of Rights and the abuses suffered by those under its governance would not be witnessed for half a millennium. It was not that this age was the father of such global influence as much as giving it superficial credence to operate within the tenet of public consent, it became legitimised.
None the less it would be hard to isolate those that acted with selfish motive opposed to the many that believed they acted in the public good. Identifying who and when became one of the growing number of ultimate questions akin to ‘was God an astronaut’ or ‘is there life after marriage’?
The only real achievement of the war that benefited the Royal dynasty’s was that King Charles 1st had the foresight to patent simple names such as the ‘Royal Oak,’ depicting his hiding place during his escape bid and quest for freedom. He also recognized that he might find comfort in hostelries bearing a name that he bestowed them in the future. Yet the Royal descendents are not as keen to acknowledge as an equal money-spinner, was the pub name ‘The Kings Head’ that had a whole new meaning. The King hardly enjoyed a pint in these venues; after all tipping a pint directly down the throat of a headless corpse did nothing for his digestion following his execution in 1649.
The war itself originated out of many mistakes made by the King within areas such as poor choice of relationships that affected the common good, mis-use of taxes and liberal withdrawals of money by increased demands upon the populace through the public purse and such means as ‘ship tax’. Religious domination under the banner of ‘Divine right’ with the King being the highest representative of God on earth and finally prejudicial licensing laws opposed throughout the regions of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
The immediate confusion might be to establish who supported who as there were major regional variations, but at a general level the nobility, landowners and Anglicans supported Charles I while those in towns and cities supported Parliament. However, this is a broad generalisation as there were noblemen who supported Parliament and there were towns such as Newark that supported Charles. Ironically parliament then was the overt means of upper class, elitist representation, which in time was to translate into sheer capitalism at the cost of true democracy. True representation as the cause, or reason for this and other conflicts, was little more than an illusion, but then the working classes could convince themselves otherwise and the mental cloud enjoyed through alcohol would be a welcome bed fellow, which sadly would subdue the masses into toleration and acceptance of the illusion.
Where does your dad keep his ale?
1658 - Oliver Cromwell dies and is succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard; The Battle of the Dunes, where England and France defeat Spain and England gains the region of Dunkirk as if a precursor to the great beer festival of 1940 and the urgent need for British forces to vacate after a pub brawl with German revelers.
1666 - The Great Fire of London cleansed massive districts of medieval London and it was said that too many alehouses were being overrun by Ind Coope breweries, whose method of distribution and marketing was somewhat suspect. When the embers had settled a far more open license was afforded to different Hostelries and Inns that introduced a far wider selection of good English ales.
1690 - It was becoming known in England that Irish were developing the secret brew on an industrial scale as created by their patron saint Saint Patrick. This dark creamy beer was said to be worthy of world export and worse still was being distributed illegitimately thus denying the sovereign taxation monies. With subdued regret King William of Orange defeats the Irish and French armies of his father-in-law at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, but following his victory he tarried in a local Inn and sampled this new ale they called Guinness, and some say he fell in love with it in an instance.
1715 - The Jacobite Rebellion begins in Scotland aimed at overthrowing the Hanoverian succession and placing the "Old Pretender" - James II's son - on the throne. The rebellion is easily defeated as there is no heart in it as the English King seized all ‘Caledonian’ ale houses and breweries and denied the rebels access and with that, the cause simply lost momentum.
Did you know? Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 'Wet your whistle' is the phrase inspired by this practice.
1733 - The 'Excise Crisis' takes place and Walpole the first English Prime Minister is forced to abandon his plans to reorganise the constraints implied by customs and excise. His prime motivation was retaining the treasury grip on taxation extracted from English ales production and stringently denying the import of alien drinks of which he made no profit.
1765 - Ruled from the United Kingdom parliament implemented The American Stamp Act to raise taxes in the colonies in an attempt to make the ‘New worlds’ defence self-financing. This was a major cause of dissent as the founding fathers were having little success in home brewing, yet they were still heavily taxed on an inferior drink to that which they had become accustomed.
1773 - Few events in the history of America are as well known or as highly celebrated as the Boston Tea Party. Yet the real ramifications of that event took many decades to manifest. The United States was but one of a group of colonies under British rule when a band of men dressed like Mohawk Indians "sons of Liberty" boarded cargo ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbour. The harbour ran brown for days afterward and news of the attack was soon despatched back to the United Kingdom.
Why did they do this? Why tea? The English government was still in debt following a spate of wars in this case with our old friends the French and felt it quite reasonable that the colonies should help in the cost of the defence of the realm. England was also spending large proportions of its defence budget for British soldiers stationed in the American Colonies, thus it saw fit to raise taxes in that vast continent to try to recoup expenditure and service its growing overseas debt.
American patriot leaders were opposed to any internal tax they did not consent to and were ably led by John Adams one of the staunchest leaders in the fight against these taxes. His success expectation was high having successfully argued against the stamp act a few years earlier. One of the major taxes that England raised was on tea imported into the American Colonies. Tea was one of this nation’s most imported products and England and the English parliament recognised it could raise a great deal of capital measured by the sheer size and volume of this import.
Dissent was slow as a few Americans opposed the tax and engaged in acts of protest. It was an ill timed act even though the rebels knew full well that pouring tea into the cold waters of the harbour could hardly be construed as a hot beverage, but the truth was, had they waited but a short time, they might have been introduced to the secrets of far more appealing beverage and evolve the true American dream. Sadly however they were consigned to the far inferior alcoholic beverages of modern America.
Did you know? In old English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.'
It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's'
1805 - The Royal Navy had sunk the greater majority of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar just off of the Spanish coast. Admiral Lord Nelson himself had been the most unfortunate of victims during this eventful and conclusive naval engagement and victory. To commemorate this victory a golden bright ale was commissioned by business charter called ‘Nelson’s’ brewery with its principle ale being called ‘the flagship’. This appetising ale was dispensed in copious amounts along the route of the returning hero’s body,
1815 - A mixed confederation of countries bore witness to Napoleon Bonaparte ravaging Europe then surge deep into Russia on a wild pub crawl at great cost in manpower and equipment. However, the crowns of England had gained information that French spies had seized a batch of ingredients from a brewery and were setting up a secret still in a farmhouse at Heugamont. This could not be allowed and the Duke of Wellington was dispatched to make closure of this threat and in doing so, was fully aware his presence would draw the attention of Bonaparte who was duly affronted and aggrieved.
As anticipated the French army marched day and night to protect the distillery and the two forces were to meet and clash at a place called Waterloo. The animosity felt between Napoleon and Wellington was such that there could never be an accord and as it exploded into violent disagreement
only the intervention of a third party, The Prussian Blues was to bring about a decisive decision in favour of the British and the event marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Peace was established in Europe at the Congress of Vienna.
1819 – Political unrest in the country was becoming a serious concern to the government. The general public cried out for political reform and greater representation in government, and at a particular rally, Manchester saw a crowd of 60,000–80,000 gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Such unofficial gatherings were becoming unruly and lacking in control, worse still spilling out into the town centre.
In a vain attempt to gain control and avert a full-scale riot, the authorities ordered the closure of all public buildings, alehouses and places where numbers could gather. This was a major mistake and the final straw causing a riot to ensue that became known as the ‘Peterloo massacre’. This sad event was brought to a violent end after troops were ordered to intervene and were responsible for indiscriminate wounding of four hundred protestors and slaying fifteen more.
1829 - This year saw the Metropolitan Police Force set up by Robert Peel in an attempt to contain the raucous crowds that gathered at the end of each day’s revelry. In addition, Parliament passed the Catholic Relief Act, ending most restrictions on Catholic Civil Rights. They were allowed to own property and run for public office, including parliament. More importantly, when bars closed on Saturday night this access to a Catholic church first thing Sunday morning gave drinkers access to communion wine that was of great appeal to the converted and a sure fire way of getting the less righteous into church.
1834 - A small group of labourers were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Laborers and they became known as The Tolpuddle Martyrs. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society, however, at the time, friendly societies were gradually evolving strong elements of what we now consider is the predominant role of trade unions. They were subsequently sentenced to transportation to Australia.
Life in the vast continent of Australia was harsh and unforgiving, harvesting the most simple of crops was at the outset quite an ordeal. Little did they know that combined with the privations of their horrendous sea journey and the sheer hard labour in turning the dust bowls of the continent into fertile fields combined with the searing heat could not be quenched by more than water until this immature continent would evolve its own sustenance?
Whether by coincidence or not the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire and reconstruction presented an opportunity for reviewing and revitalising government but such an ideal was little more than wishful thinking.
1839 and 42 – saw a steady increase in unrest in Wales opposed to the high tolls having to be paid on the Turnpike Roads. So much so that a riot took place on the 6th of June 1839 when a group of Welsh farmers attacked a Toll House. They destroyed the hated gate and smashed up the toll Keepers house and burned it to the ground.
Leadership in such times can arise from the strangest of places and Twn Carnabwth stepped to the fore to fill that role and reputedly he wore women’s clothes as a disguise when a further attack on a toll house was made (hanging was the sentence for rioting in those days). Legend tells us that these clothes were borrowed from a lady called Rebecca and over the course of time the riots became known as the Rebecca Riots.
Another story passed down through the generations is that a curfew was put on the land that all males were to be indoors after six at night until six in the morning. Thus, to plan and orchestrate the riotous actions the men dressed as women, gathered in local alehouses to conduct their plotting, then conducted the raids in woman’s clothing as a means of concealing their identity.
Other people took the belief that a specific passage from the bible gave them the Lords blessing, "And they blessed Rebecca, and said unto her, Thou art our sister. Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gates of those that hate them."
Nobody is entirely sure which reason for the name is true, but both could be correct. The riots flared up over the period 1839 to 1842, but lost momentum when two of the ringleaders were captured. They were both found guilty and, instead of being sentenced to death, they were sentenced to transportation and sent to Australia, which was then a 'prison island'. According to local legend, the men laughed when they were given this punishment, not realizing the severity in the complete absence of ale houses in which they could plot and scheme for some decades to come.
1841 - The first British Census recording the names of the whole populace of the United Kingdom is undertaken and the first weapon of ‘Big Brother’ begins. This was seen as a natural progression from the Domesday Book of 1086
1854 - Outside of being an act of rank stupidity, the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ was also an act of great courage and sacrifice. The Russians had placed themselves with cannon and musket at the end of a valley and ranged down two sides of the approach. Thus the command for the 17th lancers to charge into such horrendous odds was considered a gross error of judgement at officer level. The truth was, that the Russians had thought themselves clever in denying the passage back to the British Billets and place of refreshment, little knowing that this would enflame the lancers spirits more
The casualties were surprisingly light considering the size of the forces arranged against them, soldiers showed much unselfish love for fellow lancers. Had more survived that day and gone on to celebrate its achievement, the scant supply of ale for other ranks consumption would have been sorely stretched, to say nothing of the revelry the participants might have enjoyed when recounting exploits in the Inns of England when returning home.
The poem that came to life after the event gave it immortality, but it lacked detail and information that might cause embarrassment to both Queen and country. In essence it was common knowledge that the English serviceman would not be denied his daily ale and an enemy that thought otherwise, did so at their peril.
Half a pint, half a pint,
Half a pint downward,
all downed in Peckham Rye
drank the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Down with the ale! He said:
Into the back bar said Seth
drank the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismayed?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Someone had blundered:
Theirs was not to make reply,
Theirs was not to reason why,
Theirs was to eat a pie:
Into the Frog and Toad
Drank the six hundred.
Women to the right of them,
Girl friends to the left of them,
Wives in front of them
Mothers in front of them
Screamed at by every girl,
Boldly they drank and well,
Into the claws of Beth
Into the mouth of Mel,
Drank the six hundred.
Gulped down through glasses glare,
Flashed as they turned in air,
gulping the ale down there.
Drinking and barmy, while
all the world wondered:
Plunging into cigarette smoke,
some spoke through pipe and choked:
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the cancerous choke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they leaned back, but not--
Not the six hundred.
Women to the right of them,
Girl friends to the left of them,
Wives in front of them
Mothers in front of them
Coldly they sunk the ale,
Keg, draught and tankard swell,
They that consumed so well,
drank thro’ the jaws of Seth,
Sank through the mouth of Dell,
All that was left of them,
Left of the six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
Oh, the full glasses craved!
All the world wondered.
Honor the drink they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble Six Hundred!
Such is the lot of an Englishman!
1857 - The Second Opium War opens China to European trade. The British government knew all too well that free access to Opium as a pacifier for the poverty stricken populace did not challenge at least on a recreational level, thus there was no threat of any substance to the good English pint and the splendid way it served to transport the mind of a consumer, into a world far better than the one in which he resided.
At the same time the Indian mutiny erupts against British rule in the sub-continent. This vast continent had yielded many good crops for the Imperial crown of England, but when the Mother country started to use its very name to describe a simple commodity of alcohol then something had to be done.
Discovering that one of the more popular golden drinks consumed in vast quantities back in England was to be given the name Indian Pale Ale, or IPA, revolt became the only recourse and riots began in all the major cities of India simultaneously. However the name prevailed as living testimony to the quality of produce that emanated from the great continent of India.
1865 - Was the generic beginning of what we have come to know as the American trek westward. This epic exploration gave rise to many myths, legends, stories and beliefs that mustered around the Western United States from 1865 to 1890. Many folk heroes and legendary characters likened to the romantic imagery of Robin Hood were created out of meagre and often primitive verbalisations of stories handed down from one person to another.
Conflict as always accompanied progress as violent, small scale range wars exploded between settlers became commonplace. At the same time corruption and criminalised justice systems were also frequent, but the most criminal of all acts, was the treatment of the indigenous peoples loosely known as the American Indians, or contemptuously referred to as savages.
Their culture was regularly degraded to one of ridicule as this ethnic cleansing sought some form of justification. Alcohol too was introduced as a mind changing drug inducement, once more lending support to the inhuman subjugation that the white Anglo-Saxon inflicted upon these innocents. As if violent oppression were not enough, alien illnesses decimated their number further, they having never been in proximity of so many human ailments and illnesses until the white man’s arrival.
The tide of progress could not be halted as towns and farmsteads established themselves across the great plains of America, but all was not easy in these times of conquest and expansion and the greatest cost to life was the American Civil War. More American lives were lost than in all wars since. The public were persuaded that it was a war of human rights and the emancipation of the eleven million black people that resided within the great land mass, but the truth was much more simple and centred strongly around the industrial-fiscal economy of the Union. Meddling in the internal affairs of America was plentiful from Europe but the Union was forged and a new and insurmountable power was to grow from such violent contest.
1872 – Electors were given the right to cast a vote and have their choice remain a secret and this rule applied generally as part of the electoral system henceforth. Notwithstanding this, few voters recognize any difference between the policies of the main political parties, but it was still not public knowledge that the act of
1872 which guaranteed privacy no longer applied. Evidence of this fact can be witnessed presenting an electoral role number at a polling booth. It is entered upon a stub which has the tear off voting slip. That slip is handed to the voter and used, but it, like a cheque from a cheque book bears a unique and duplicate number on both voting slip and the booklet from whence it came. Thus private independent voting rights are little more than pure fiction.
1879 - The Battle at Rorke's Drift took place over the 22nd and 23rd of January and was a gallant defense by a small garrison force of 152 British soldiers, part of the Centre Column, against seemingly overwhelming odds of between 3000 and 4000 Zulus. The British were to award eleven Victoria crosses to the defenders, the most ever to be awarded in a single action in the history of the British Army.
It served the nations morale well in diminishing the severity of the British defeat at Isandhlwana where a force of seventeen hundred British soldiers was attacked and routed with but four hundred men including some Europeans surviving. It was deemed politic to praise the worthiness of the troop at Rorke’s Drift action as compensation, yet as brave a fight as they put on, the real motive force was only hinted at in the film ‘Zulu’ by the Vicar consuming copious amounts of alcohol in this simple irrelevant outpost used as a hospital. That building being the nearest thing to a roadside Inn that the troops could enjoy whilst serving in the dust bowl of southern Africa and thus give cause to defend it with great tenacity and bravery.
1880-1902 As much as British armed Forces were mobilized to halt the invasion of the Zulu nation, when a tenuous peace ensued. A military occupation occurred to the widespread resentment of the largely Dutch residents called Boers. Inevitably a war of independence began in a terrain that was totally alien to the normal style and tactics of the British red coats. Little had changed over the centuries when uniforms were designed so that the thick red wool of the red coat would conceal injury and act as minor defence against penetration by native weapons. The attitude of concealing injury had started back in the English Civil war where sergeants wore red sashes to conceal blood, which by looping his sash under their arms would drag them away and allow a replacement to step forward. Tradition continued and whereas the sash still worn now has a red tassel, in the seventeenth century these were matches (or chords) that were used to ignite the weapon of the time, a matchlock.
Military discipline was the bedrock of British success in the field but many years were to pass before the bright colour of a uniform would change for drab earthy colours to act as camouflage.
The process of change was slow and even resisted, but gradually our troops were issued with khaki uniform that suited the South African plateau and velts much better.
With an ocean separating the two continents the Boers adapted a fighting style not unlike that of the Native American Indians. British troops were being picked off one by one when in open order. Single shots decimated their number; a high price to pay to sustain dated tradition of movement. With no visible evidence of a sniper, capture was impossible and another victim would fall prey no sooner than the formation was resumed and the passage interrupted once again impeding progress.
Tacticians pondered and reverted to the old and tried method of ‘scorched earth’ and set fire to all the wheat fields which were the main ingredient to the Boers wheat based beers, but some thought that too extreme and beyond accepted rules Whereby the alternative established by the high command was a revelation that was not seen to be so severe and set a pattern that would evolve even further over ensuing wars.
It was decided that in any region where losses mounted an order was given to imprison the families, wives and children of the known insurgents who would be incarcerated in locations that were to become globally known as concentration camps. Military authorities let it be known that food and rations would be heavily depleted, even denied until the men folk surrendered to captivity and thus ensure their families receive basic provisions Consequently, by the cruelest of method a slow end was brought to this unfortunate conflict.
Only one concession was agreed in order to pacify the English parliament. Upon surrender of the Boers, England took hostage man named ‘Deucher’ a Boer patriot leader who provided his patriots with great encouragement. He accepted the conditions of house arrest in the UK and whiled away the hours by creating a well-respected liquid which he marketed in order to sustain his loose imprisonment in the United Kingdom.
1914-1918 - The Great War. The War to end all wars lasted four years and sowed the seeds of conflict for half a century.
Fought to an almost stationary position in mud soaked trenches usually running parallel and were separated only by coils of twisted barbed wire, the war was little more than slaughter. In time it degenerated to a war of attrition, where both sides were drained economically and demographically and a generation of mankind was culled, with tens of thousands simply vanishing in the mud filled fields of Belgium and France.
Generations of young men volunteered for service in droves and in doing so reduced the manpower to service the basic domestic needs the nation would require to survive. Industry too was hard pressed to service the extreme needs of warfare but many women stepped forward to fill that need and sometimes it cost them their lives. Scientists and politicians alike were fully aware that some of the chemicals required in constructing artillery shells were, quite simply deadly and the cost of life to thousands of young women was seen as a necessary sacrifice.
The fields lay fallow and foodstuff of the most elementary kind was having to be shipped by convoy from the New World. Thoughtfully the war cabinet suffering from the same essential shortages remembered that America enjoyed the patronage of the Founding Fathers from these shores and with discovery and settlement of the New Country, these brave adventurers’ propagated fields of English hops in bringing just a little bit of the home country to the New World. Thus their foresight may now serve their kinfolk as we called upon them to send the valuable crop to sustain the fight for freedom.
One import to Europe that was not anticipated was 180,000 American citizens who volunteered to fight for the Kaiser and Germany. What motivated such a significant number of men to volunteer to fight against the British is hard to grasp but it is generally accepted that they felt it their duty to fight in defence of their own home brewed ales’ ancestral origin of Budweisser, even though the European receipe gave a far more honest drink.
In contrast, Westminster’s parliament instructed a large quantity of dried hops be requisitioned for immediate transfer to the UK and the first shipment would take place covertly on a steam ship called the Lusitania. This ocean liner would also transport over one hundred U.S. citizens that would act as a human shield to allow the vessel to sail through U boat packs in safety.
But information was surreptitiously and mysteriously leaked to the German secret service that munitions were to be loaded into the hold. Thus it became a legitimate target with nothing being revealed about the other cargo of hops that might bring about an act of piracy and the ships capture rather than sinking thus affording safe haven within the starved nation of Germany.
The American populace were largely opposed to any involvement in the ‘European’ war and persuading them otherwise would best be served by some act of attack or atrocity and at that time U Boat captains conducted policy of warning a transport ship of imminent sinking and thus allowing the crew to abandon the doomed vessel before its descent to Davy Jones. But covert information made its sinking a legitimate act of war, yet the German embassy were mindful of the potential loss of civilian lives as well as the possible wider implications in sinking the vessel.
The German embassy in New York posted leaflets, placed posters and gave legitimate interviews on local radio advising civilians to not seek passage on this vessel as they intended to sink it and sink it they did. Even this was not enough to bring an end to the massive profits the US was making from the war, nor was explosive acts of sabotage on ships in US harbours. But when Germany made approaches to entice Mexico to invade the United States from the south, then that could not be permitted and on April 7th 1917 America declared war on Germany. Any risk imposed upon the southern states home brewed beers could not be tolerated, even if they were grossly inferior to that which was brewed in the Mother country.
Meanwhile on the western front the offensive had ground to a bloody halt and remained so until the Allies were supported by fresh American troops, and began their own offensive in late summer. With German military leadership recognizing they could not endure more losses in the face of this massive manpower input from the United States on September 29th, German military leaders requested the Imperial Government to start peace negotiations as soon as possible.
Those negotiations are now accepted as the first stage of the Second World War due to their severity. The only redeeming feature to such human waste was that privations of war had made certain commodities scarce and other such essentials such as beer were much reduced of demand by the loss of almost a whole generation of mankind that may have consumed it.
‘No greater gift can a person give,
than to give up his pint or his partner.’
But in 1917 like much mischief making over the course of history there was a propensity for the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol to fuel the minds and actions of dis-satisfied and desperate folk. Ale houses as a place of gathering respected no national boundary nor national ideology, nor did it make allowance for the variety of beverage that might launch ill conceived projects however worthy the intent.
Meanwhile the ancient custom with both political and genetic control in mind still ensued in Europe, through intermarriage between national Royal houses and whilst it was generally accepted that this would maintain the status quo, the massive intake of Vodka at all levels of society put good will between Great Britain and the new communist regime of Russia at risk. The relaxing aspect of consuming traditional English ale was seen as a weakness opposed to the long proven reality of passive consumption by all classes of society in the UK.
Thus whilst a large proportion of young manhood was slaughtering each other in the trenches of Europe a group of men drank deeply of vodka and spoke shallowly of political systems and national government and to initiated a movement of working class origin that would suffer from the reality and greed of mankind which would erode the purity of concept. The October Revolution was led by the leader of the Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin and was based upon the writing and ideas of Karl Marx, a political ideology sometimes known as Marxism-Leninism. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the twentieth century. It was far less sporadic than the earlier revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.
Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since he was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's organization and direction that led the revolution, spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party that would topple a whole regime, the Tsarist power that presided over Russia at the same time as directing its armed forces to oppose those of the Kaiser in the greater global contest of that time.
However one major hurdle existed in this plan insomuch as Trotsky had been exiled and hounded from one country to another and following a short time in Spain he moved to the United States and from here, as news from home dictated he began his journey homeward, and did so via Canada. The great ally of democracy and Imperial member of the old Empire, Canada was complicit in allowing this essential figure to return to his ‘motherland’ and forge the policy and international attitude at a time when all nations concerned were allied and fought generally against the common foe, the Huns.
Potential outcome of the allies allowing free movement of this essential figure must have been known to them, so is it simple theory that makes them complicit in the birth of a movement that in the very early stage of development was to take the great continent of Russia out of the Great war by agreement and peace treaty in March 1918 thus releasing large German forces to vacate the eastern front and boost their comrades in the west that still stood foursquare against the newly arrived Americans and the stalwart troops of their European enemies.
Ironically one of the negotiators that allowed safe transit to Trotsky to take his destined role to fruition in the communist Revolution was also one of the negotiators of the so called peace treaty imposed upon the German nation in 1918 and imposes reparations that would cripple Germany’s economy and ability to sustain itself as a viable nation.
En par with the great raft of coincidences that would appear contradictory to the interest of democracy was the name given to a national drink in the UK, Red Barrel. Was this choice of colour another accident of the time, or was its chemical ingredients set loose on the world to weaken its resolve in the fight for self determination, at the same time match the colour of the workers party banner the Red Flag?
The cost to human life; nine million combatants with seven million permanently disabled and another fifteen million seriously injured. On top of such horrendous losses the world suffered a global influenza epidemic that took a further forty four million lives. But what impact can be measured at the pogroms of Russia and the slaughter of all opponents to the new regime that began in 1917, and thus nurture other evils to grow from the ashes and spread its ugly shadow of political control without exception, across the globe.
Survivors of the Great War returned to ‘a land fit for heroes’, a land full of poverty, recession and ultimately the great depression of
1923. Poverty, despair, despondency and sheer desperation were the common lot of the starving. From such desolation spread extreme measures. Normal politics and government could not sustain a nation having forfeit so much in global warfare and Europe descended into political extremes. Initially following the path of the Bolsheviks more patriotic working classes also turned to its opposite. Allegiances wavered or were further reinforced; common sense of purpose was a natural price to pay when nations descended to such extremes as prohibition.
Primarily in Europe the masses succumbed to one extreme or another (albeit the United States evolved similar groups within its own continent but this did not deter leading figures such as President Bush’s grandfather from financially backing the National Socialist German Workers Party).
1932- On 20 February, a true visionary a Mr. R.J. Mitchell submitted his Type 224 aircraft design for approval which he referred to as "The Shrew" and it first took to the air on the 19th of February 1934, but it initially suffered rejection by the RAF because of its unsatisfactory performance. The next phase came with the 224 being superseded after authorization by the maker Vickers-Supermarine in 1933 to proceed with a new design, the Type 300, an all-metal monoplane that would become the Supermarine Spitfire. This was originally a private venture by Supermarine, but the RAF quickly became interested and the Air Ministry financed a prototype.
The concept itself grew from strength to strength and a sadly the father of its design was to succumb to cancer in 1937 and never saw the descendant of ‘The Shrew’ in its full glory. The Spitfire was the salvation in many ways of the British nation and the legacy was to last well into the 21st century in the ale houses of Sheppard Neame and the memories of all true blue Englishmen.
1936 - In October a group 200 men from the north-eastern town of Jarrow marched 300 miles to London. Their purpose was to highlight the plight of the working classes suffering 70 per cent unemployment to what they thought to be the affluent south
Ellen Wilkinson, the local MP, was to later write, ‘There was no work. No one had a job except a few railwaymen, officials, the workers in the co-operative stores, and a few workmen who went out of the town... the plain fact [is] that if people have to live and bear and bring up their children in bad houses on too little food, their resistance to disease is lowered and they die before they should.' Furthermore the Working Men’s Clubs were dry of beer and none was to be delivered form the oldest brewery in England in Faversham. Let them drink their own juices said one unsympathetic local, why should we subsidize their life with the golden nectar created by Shepard Neame.
1937 – Flight was by no mean new in 1937 but passenger transit through the air was still embryonic and the accepted state of the art means of numerical movement was in the great airships such as the Hindenburg. Made in Germany this was seen as the height of comfort and to give further comfort to the vessels select passengers a revolutionary form of ale delivery was installed at the main bar to serve the passengers. Basically a cellar to store any fluids was obviously out of the question but gas operated pump system to pour ale that was vertical to both storage and consumption seemed the answer. The pressurized gas however did not travel well and it remains a firm suspicion that this un-gamely source of ale delivery caused the spark and explosion that brought the great airship down in flames on May the sixth 1937 costing the life of thirty five of its passengers including one ground crew member..
1939 - Adolf Hitler embarked upon a major and ambitious pub-crawl that started with Czechoslovakia, and then moved on through Holland, Belgium and France. As fast as this campaign was to unfold it took little time to recognize the true prize to fill his glass with abundance, was in England. Hence in savouring his victory over the Poles knowing he magnanimously shared that victory of territorial gain with the Russians. He must have mused upon the reflection that Britain knew his ultimate goal, and that Russia shared no such aspirations. After all, his pact with the Russians was a two headed coin. If Britain had acted in a purely moral manner in defence of Poland, she would have declared war on Russia at the same time and thus save Hitler the task in 1941/2, but if it didn’t and the Russians became allies to the free world then he would deal with the red peril whilst instigating ‘lebensraum’ and his conquest of Russia. In the meantime he could depend upon Russia’s influence on the British psyche whilst consuming Red Barrel bitter during the embattled years of the blitz. Thus Hitler was further saved from instigating his plan to swamp the British mainland with counterfeit money to undermine the economy, instead of which he could flood its manhood with alien fluids of political colouring (red barrel)
Meantime with no small measure of pride that I remind the good people of England of one of Winston Churchill’s more famous speeches whilst those closer to that great Prime Minister recall his ramblings when penning his speech to paper before its delivery.
“We shall go on till closing time,
we shall fight off any interlopers,
we shall fight in the car parks and public bars,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the bars,
we shall defend our public houses,
whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight in the Saloon bars,
we shall fight in the family gardens,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,
and even if,
Which I do not for a moment believe,
this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving,
then our Empire beyond the seas,
armed and guarded by the British Fleet,
would carry on the struggle, until,
in God's good time,
the New World, with all its power and might,
steps forth to the rescue of good old English ale.”
Winnie of course had firsthand experience of war in both the Boer and the Great War, and knew only too well of the trials and tribulations that a nation must face. With true innovative insight, he instituted a whole army of individuals to fill the shoes of land-workers and men-folk of military age and instituted the Women’s Land Army. Thus a truly essential service came into being that was to play a pivotal role in the ultimate victory over the Hun. Womenfolk of England rallied to the colours and the hop fields of England flourished gainfully without delay and remained so through the whole ordeal of the war and after.
Of course our politicians would tell us we were fighting for freedom from persecution and democracy but such concepts are admirable when in reality that on the first day of World War Two, His Majesty's ship "Lorna" fired on the limping overcrowded passenger ship the "Tiger Hill" as she neared Palestine with 1417 Jewish refugees. The first human casualties at the hands of British forces were not Germans but Jewish escapees from Germany. And at the same time other refugee ships (e.g. the "St. Louis") were refused entry into the US and sent back to Germany and a most uncertain and risky future.
It would take a resolute English mind to concentrate on the real reasons for the war and defend the Garden of England and the produce this nation was to enjoy at the envy of the developing world.
1940 - Blitzkrieg was a totally new and unknown tactic, but it worked. Germany caught the combined allied forces completely off guard and pushed them ingloriously southward. Command Head Quarters knew that in order to recover as many ground troops as possible and thus preserve a viable force in which to carry the fight on, then they had to find an area to hold, evacuate and survey for future engagement.
It was decided with due consideration to select the closest areas of French coastline to embark from in full knowledge that as time passed a strong and resolved manhood could be implemented with an army of white vans, anticipating easy pickings of VAT less products from the European continent.
Thus, Dunkirk was selected knowing that other dock facilities were not available at Calais and Cherbourg. However it took no less than 900 Royal; Naval and civilian vessels to lift the 338,000 men from the beaches. This supreme effort came at no small cost and whilst they landed at every harbour and inlet on the south coast, it was a cup of tea most welcome that created the reality of being home and as they listened to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, describe the "miracle of deliverance" from Dunkirk and warned of an impending invasion. Moreover, with that sobering thought there was sunk a great quantity of a good English beer in anticipation of the threatened invasion.
The only time there was even a hint of panic was when the small ships captains realized that they might not reach Blighty till after closing time. None the less each ship embarked with its precious cargo regardless.
It was later that year that the most significant battle for Britain was to occur in the skies over Kent. Field Marshall Goering promised the Fuhrer that he would annihilate the Royal Air Force on the ground and then with air supremacy, operation ‘Sea Lion’, or the invasion of Britain could be launched with relative confidence.
Consequently, the Germans launched a sustained and massive attack on Britain’s airfields and installations and in those dark days, young British pilots fought hard and long to keep them at bay. Sometimes replacement pilots would perish on their first sorte and it became a sad statistic that on average, a pilot would survive but four hours flying time before being shot down.
Their supreme efforts were recognized by Prime Minister Churchill making the famous speech.
‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’
(By which only those closest to him knew that he referred to a small minority that would subsidize the purchasing of beer in the N.A.A.F.I where junior officers were less able. Thus, spirits were kept high during a time when air engagements might occur up to three times a day).
Bravery of these young men has become a legend. Over five hundred British aircraft were shot down, and such losses could not be sustained. Tactically it was decided to divert the enemy’s attention. Knowing what a megalomaniac Hitler was, it was tactically decided to launch a minor raid on Berlin with somewhat antiquated Wellington bombers. The raids purpose was achieved and changed the whole course of the war, as Hitler made his enraged speech claiming he would destroy every city in England. As a result, he diverted his attacks from the near exhausted Fighter Command to civilian targets in British cities and the Royal Air Force were granted an essential repeal in which to recover, regroup and finally emerge victorious over the ‘Battle of Britain’.
Meantime propaganda announcements were made about three German bombers that dropped their ordinance on London inadvertently and thus the raid on Berlin was justified. What was justified was more like tactically essential in diverting the enemies attack in order to recover form the previous onslaught
Beleaguered squadrons were able to engage with great success attacking bomber forces both inbound and homebound at a massive cost to the enemies manpower and aircraft and it was this realization that influenced the final decision to revert to night raids on a much-reduced scale. You see Goering had not accounted for the fact that however large his attacks were, the kill rate was such that his aircraft were left as burning hulks in the hop fields of Kent, and what on earth would be the point of launching a ground attack on a country, when its principle asset was destroyed inadvertently by your own hand.
Wartime evokes many secrets with few as important as the true proportions of hops, malt and fluids that go into brewing traditional ales, but one secret did come close to public domain, in that the German code system had been broken, and we were to gain advance warning of air raids that would allow us to take proportionate precautions. Unbeknown to Hitler, his major air offensive on Coventry was well known within Whitehall, who in their wisdom, decided not to divert additional forces to defend it, otherwise it might appear obvious that we had received advance warning. Coventry was not known culturally for its good beer so its destruction was simply considered an acceptable cost of war.
Ironically it was the provision of ball bearings from the United States that made the blitz on Britain so horrifically successful at the outset, America finally joined the war for democracy and civilization one of the leading figures in the Ball Bearing Trust the SKF company in Sweden was second cousin to Herman Goring. Continued trade was also to cause the resignation of Vice President Batt of the War Production Board of the United States who could not in all conscience allow the US arms industry and aircraft production to suffer continued shortages of a material that was still being provided to the tune of 600000 units per year to Nazi Germany. If denied to the Germans this would simply seize up the forward mechanization of Germany’s blitzkrieg and bring it to a sudden and abrupt halt.
The irony of this was compounded by the largest German cartel the chemical, film and pharmaceutical giant I.G. Farben. Based in the United States Farben produced 85% of Germany's explosives in World War Two. Further supported by the agreement that Standard Oil supplied the Nazis with petroleum in spite of shortages in the US. It also supplied a rare lead additive without which the Luftwaffe could not fly. It suppressed the production of synthetic rubber in the US, which almost cost the Allies the war.
On a lighter note the chocolate giant Nestle enjoyed prolific trade when supplying the Wermacht with daily rations of chocolate to its troops. Given the value of sugar input to the human body for energy, we must remain thankful that the brewing industry did not betray democracy by supplying essential fluids to act as incentive to an enemy whose only choice of securing such products was by invasion.
1943 - The Dam Busters raid took place on May the 17th; The Special Operations Executive spent a great deal of their time dreaming up dirty tricks actions to inflict upon the hapless Germans and often allowed imagination to rule over good sense when considering such activities. Exploding dog poo was just one development to bring a smile to the innovators and whilst testing of the bouncing bomb to achieve the destruction of hydraulic dam installations in the Ruhr district another opportunity of mischief was recognized in the simple shape of the bouncing bomb.
Extensive tests were conducted on the device off the coast of north Kent and it was deemed no accident that the shape of the bomb was somewhat reminiscent of a large barrel of beer. This fact did not go un-noticed and even though shortages and rationing had major impact upon all domestic and luxury items on a daily basis, it was considered an evil twist to dispose of several firkin of ‘Watneys’ red barrel on the raid. It was considered that when the barrel burst it would pollute the waters, but should any survive initial impact it would serve to incapacitate surviving German workers following its inevitable consumption.
1944 D Day 6th of June – The logistics effort of the largest maritime invasion force in history was truly massive, from the concealment of intent, to the deception of false information with whole army groups being witnessed mustering in the fields of Kent under the keen eye of the famous General Patton. In reality the army group consisted of little more than blow up dummies of numerous armoured vehicles and harbours full of fake landing craft.
Neat rows of military tents interspersed were interrupted only with beer tents full of raucous Yankee soldiers enjoying the local brews. Extent of this deception included instructing German spies intercepted at the very earliest stages of the war to betray their country for salvation of their lives.
Meanwhile British Commandos crept up the beaches of Normandy over the nights of June 4th and 5th to take soil and sand samples to check which were the best areas of the landing zone would support heavy armour, whilst unknown pairs of soldiers checked local hostelries for suitable ales when a bridgehead had been achieved to offer succur to weary soldiers.
Then on the evening of June 5th a glider force were sent in to secure an important bridge to prevent German reinforcements crossing the river by the oh so important Café where HQ was established as the very first French ale supplier to be liberated. This legendary action caused the bridge to be renamed Pegasus Bridge at the end of the war in respect for those lost during the engagement.
Squadrons of aircraft dropped chaff from bomb bays which were strips of aluminium, code named ‘window’ that fooled German radar (Freya) concealing the fact that great armada’s were on the move. Major bombing raids occurred on enemy supply lines in the Falaise region designed to deceive and ensure the success of the greatest amphibious landing ever undertaken. Allied air forces, over many nights, bombed and destroyed supplies and support systems of mobility of that essential ingredient, ‘fuel’ thus serving the dual purpose of deception as well as denial. Deception however can only go so far and the truth remained that the ploy and tactic code named ‘Operation Fortitude’ were essential to success and final victory.
Running out new beer lines for the troops.
Once a beach head had been established maintaining a line of supply, support and reinforcements were crucial to any chance of success and the speed in which these materials could be delivered to the troops was critical. The first priority was securing a safe harbor and large hollow concrete containers were dragged across the channel called Mulberry’s, these were then tied and secured to allow ships to pull alongside and disembark their valuable contents.
At the same time Operation Pluto was planned with meticulous detail and was in fact a massive steel drum that floated with a central spindle or axle that ran freely to unreel its essential large hollow hose. The drum itself floated precariously and rotated to release a thick pipeline to pump fuel over the channel to supplement the thousands of gallons that would take allied forces into the heart of Germany. The drum itself was towed by groups of four dockside tugs whereby as it progressed, the rotation of the drum rolled a pipeline off its perimeter which dropped steadily onto the bottom of the channel, where its flexibility caused it to settle and ground itself ready for its essential task.
The design of the drum was true genius and its service capacity well within the needs of the volume of traffic that the European campaign would generate, after all; “If you had been a British soldier at that time, would you have contemplated taking part in such a lengthy campaign knowing what poor quality beer the Europeans produced?” After all, there was the matter of morale and simple determination to remember one of the prime reasons for fighting this was in maintaining the English way of life. Massive generators served as part of the deception but now pumped liquid gold across the channel and then dispersal points were located at regular intervals to refuel the needs of the fighting forces that were constructed with the utmost urgency.
If nothing else the armed forces of Britain were well versed in setting up support systems to maintain momentum and after the second day with bridgehead established, allied troops were able to partake in a British Ale during off duty periods in great marquees set up along the recaptured roads of France. Their spirits resolved to success were much refreshed by the cold, golden fluids from home, and never at any time did the Germans gain any knowledge of the sheer volume of English Ale that was being pumped across the ocean to keep allied spirits so high.
How they cleaned the lines of the pipes as it pushed and pumped the English Ale across the Channel remains a secret to this day? Moreover, what would they not have done to prevent competition between the wealth of English Breweries to create a ‘Victory’ beer to keep the troops going?
Newsreel in the cinema’s presented the image that the purpose of Pluto was to pump fuel over to feed the massive army of military vehicles on their journey into the heartland of Germany and that, as we know now is how the history books present it to the public. None had the courage to admit English ale was pumped across which kept the Allied forces going, which reminded them that the sooner they won the war, the sooner they get back to Blighty and their own local pubs. Oh yes, and some would go home to their wives!
One final, desperate push was to come out of the headquarters of the remaining German Wehrmacht on the 22nd of October 1944, a push that could only have delayed matters and one that would use resources which would have been better placed to defend them against the Mongol hordes that assailed Germany from the east.
As well as releasing their most up to date King Tiger tanks to launch themselves ferociously through the dense woodlands of the Ardennes, there were also covert actions occurring behind the lines. The most elite parachute regiment (Falschirmjager) acting as ground forces in the absence of any aircraft to convey them under the leadership of the renowned Otto Skorzeny infiltrated behind allied lines to create havoc and mayhem.
Carrying out acts of sabotage and misdirection some of these men were dressed as American GI’s and had been selected for their language skills and knowledge of the States, oft gained by childhood visits or even born in the new country to migrating parents.
In particular they had heard of a special guest house on the Meuse river bridge crossing and decided to take lunch there to re-address progress and continue sabotage of a different tack.
More insidious actions included securing fuel supplies, poisoning foodstuffs and day to day requirements of denying the allies medicines and, water supplies yet stopping short of tampering with essential liquid sustenance’s taken during off duty leave.
Essential supplies were bravely defended by the 101st Airborne division in Bastogne against far superior odds but the last blitzkrieg came to a grinding halt due to the lack of fuel and superior air power, to say nothing of the stella performance played by Field Marshall Montgomery by deploying troops under his command to relieve the beleaguered Americans who had essentially been caught napping.
1945 - treachery and betrayal of the middle European nations was the price of victory over the Nazi’s; We had endured a war that was started to preserve the freedom of the independent nation of Poland and we had won that war at the cost of the independent freedom of Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria and many more that would be swallowed up under the new formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and it seemed to any that dare remain sober, that there be some imbalance somewhere and forty odd million souls lost their lives to a cause that was already lost before it started.
Victorious archers gave this salute at Agincourt
"First drink a health, this solemn night,
a health to England, every guest;
that man's the best cosmopolite,
who loves his native ales the best.
May Freedom's malt forever live
With stronger ale from day to day;
That man's the true Conservative
Who lops the moulder'd branch away.
Hands all round!
God the tyrant's hopes confound!
To this great cause of Freedom drink, my friends,
And the great name of England buy round and round."
Original by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Did you know? Did you know that women flew more Spitfire hours than men? Not only that, but if they came under attack they flew with no munitions and were also prone to coming under fire from overzealous anti aircraft batteries, which to a large part, were also manned by women
1946-7 – Revelations of war crimes were shocking beyond belief and the reconstruction of Europe would be an expensive time consuming effort, an effort it was deemed that should not be impaired by untenable conditions set as reparations and compensation for war loss and damage.
After the horrors were revealed that were perpetrated by the Nazi regime it might be said that revenge might feature highly in the aim of the allies. To our shame we conducted ourselves hardly better than the Nazi’s by imprisoning the remnants of the German armed forces and by direct policy and orders from Eisenhower, we gradually starved or neglected the basic needs of nearly one and a half million prisoners of war. Forced to live in the most basic of conditions, even denied a mere taste of their own national drink, these men perished in a slow, deliberate and painful way. Despite all protests from the Red Cross and allies to his cause, it took nearly a year to instigate the slow process of de-nazification, although rumour has it that Eisenhower refused to attend.
1948 - The Cold War starts, but by whom? We lived the first three post war years with the fear of massive Soviet armies rumbling across Europe and laying claim to the whole of Europe rather than the half of it that they were granted at the Yalta conference before the war ended. The military presence in Berlin and along the new border now occupied by the U.S.S.R. was massive and very demanding of manpower and all the support services such demands make.
As a measure of confidence in the theology of communist rule and the desire of its people to remain willing residents of its regime, the Soviet Commitern put into operation the construction of a massive wall and area of ‘No man’s’ land which divided east from west. This propagated a sense of crisis in the city of Berlin that lay isolated in the new area of East Germany and troops in Berlin, reached a point of almost mutiny until the great Berlin airlift flew in supplies of British Ale to sustain their needs.
1962 - October 22, this was a day when the world stood still. The world was informed on international news that the Soviet Union was constructing missile bases in Cuba, located a mere 90 miles off the shores of Florida. This implied threat was seen as totally unacceptable by the president, John F. Kennedy. With memories of abortive maritime incursions such as the ‘Bay of Pigs’ a far less risky course of action was implemented. Demands were made to the Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to remove all the missile bases and their deadly contents, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba in order to prevent Russian ships from bringing additional missiles and construction materials to the island to be enforced by the United States Navy.
In response to this and in the event of US forces embarking upon an invasion of Cuba, Premier Khrushchev authorized his Soviet field commanders in Cuba to launch their tactical nuclear weapons in response to any incursion should it occur.
Barrels clearly left uncovered at the front of the vessel on this Russian merchant ship.
Deadlocked in this manner, the two leaders of the world's greatest nuclear superpowers postured aggressively for a full seven days. On October 28, the Russian Premier, realized the intensity of risk at continuing his national policy and ordered all Soviet supply ships away from Cuban waters and agreed to remove all Soviet missiles from Cuba's mainland. After several days spent nervously on the brink of nuclear holocaust, the world breathed a sigh of relief.
It was little known that the arrogance of the overlords of the United States had actually discovered that the long tubular containers that were camouflaged to look like missiles were in fact barrels of English ale bound to increase the appeal of holidaymakers to invigorate tourist figures and supersede those that visited Florida. Still unable to create the amber nectar, even after threatening to refuse to enter the Second World War unless its secrets were betrayed, the poor citizens of the United States still suffered the inferior home brewed ales of their homeland.
1971- Saw a renaissance of English beers when four men from Northern England embarked upon a crusade to reinstate English Ales to their former glory and deny the insipid growth of beers such as Watneys Red Barrel that were not only taking over the market but had formerly had such a negative impact upon the moral fibre of the English speaking people.
In the true tradition of the Anglo Saxon these men established CAMRA or Campaign for Real Ale and before long pubs proudly affixed symbols of the organization outside their entrances which boasted a membership in excess of eighty five thousand and - to their credit there are now no areas of England where well-conditioned real ales are not available to the serious drinker.
1982 - Argentina has laid claim to the Islands of The Falklands for over a hundred years and tried to take them by force with a surprise landing of a far superior force than that resident on the island. The United Kingdom mustered a major military force and dispatched them with all speed across the ocean to remove the invaders. Although our services had been pre-occupied in defending a far larger civilian population in Northern Ireland, and were doing so by asking permission to return fire when coming under attack, it now seemed a puzzle that such a sizeable force, with no restrictions or limitations were embarked to save so few British Citizens on a far off provincial island. Still, they were British and the restraint in Northern Ireland might well have been to avert disturbing the natural beers and ales of the land, where as it was smaller in quantity in The Falklands. With normal resolve and the full knowledge that the only alehouses were in Port Stanley, the Royal marines affected its liberation in record time and the Argentineans were expelled.
1984 - A year to fear if you were born in the early twentieth century. This was the title of the ominous work of George Orwell, an unashamed and publicly proclaimed socialist and member of the Fabian Society, who predicted that the state would have over-riding, totalitarian control over its population in every aspect of their lives. This became known as ‘Big brother’ and accompanied a prolific amount of conspiracy theories that rode rough shod alongside doom and gloom.
The manifestation of this belief came in detecting every movement, every transaction, political beliefs and personal aspiration the individual has.
Over 4.4 million C.C.T.V. cameras festooned lampposts as unseen eyes watched the public stagger and sway with the sheer burden of the loss of their freedom. Satellite observation and hysteria of public observation concealing the fact that few recognized it was state sponsored marketing to determine the busiest pubs and the most popular breweries. Mobile telephones were to become every persons personal extension and also the most certain way of knowing where they were, when they were there and potentially who they were with.
1991 – Saw the overt launch of a decade that was to spread indefinitely toward enforced democracy superseding covert support of middle eastern regimes such as Sadam Hussein or further east with Obama Bin Laden. Long gone were the days when arms were provided in vast quantities, with training and prolific training by the CIA to lead at steady pace, the middle eastern world into more acceptable conformity with western values such as alcohol consumption, yet keeping in sight contradiction of the logical rule of allowing women to drive. Countless conspiracy theorists pronounced their horror at the loss of life in support of black gold or material worlds fuel (oil), but none dared fuss over the denial to Muslim believers to partake in consumption of the real black gold ‘Guinness’.
Supply of sophisticated hardware to the Taliban gave them an equal footing against the Russian armed forces this may well have served to increase cold war hostility along with increased share sales within the armament industry. After years of making no progress in its campaign the Soviets cut their losses and conducted a speedy withdrawal.
This left the economics and political control in the hands of rebels and whilst none could deny the high worth of major poppy growth and drug distribution globally, it did very little to subjugate the locals to the western ideal. The Taliban became accomplished business managers and the high value crop that came from poppy growth was hardly going to be squandered on the local population- with more careful planning, alcohol could have been introduced in order to supplement local need, increase the market worth of the liquid gold and do so to pacify external interference and local demand.
One more immediate gain to the western world was in disposing of countless products with sell by dates that were incontrovertible, that being military ordinance. The decade that followed the first launch to ‘save’ Kuwait’ proved highly economic to the western coalition, they were no longer required to dispose of tons and tons of anti human, life threatening ordinance, it had gone up in a puff of smoke, and – TV airtime was much consumed at no cost to channel profits by the chaos in free programming featuring the global mayhem that was presented as an action to preserve and promote free speech and democracy.
1994 - Channel Tunnel, constructed by a descendant of William Joyce the famous quisling of WWII. His ancestor would have been proud to discover his descendant had created a direct route for hordes of barbarians to enter the country and potential raiding parties to secure English Ale.
2002 - Global terrorism offered the conspirators the opportunity to embark upon an indefinite war against an infinite number of enemies with full license to invade and dominate independent national interests to serve their own needs. This measure was seen to be extreme even by Illuminati standards, and the fact that the big four had failed to dominate the world market of beers, was not enough to initiate such extreme measures.
The decline of pseudo ales such as Watneys and Ind Coope should have been allowed to drain into the sewers quite naturally and not enforced by such extreme means. Instead we witnessed Imperialistic engagements that appeared to have global support undertaken against independent nations, but, could we justify a crusade against Muslim countries just because their religion did not allow them to consume alcohol? Of course not a myth grew out of the mists shrouding the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan as an alleged safe haven for terrorists that would leave the whole world trembling, but more importantly dependant upon the global police role America had assumed more importantly compliant?
But where else in the middle eastern world would democracy cast its fist? Well that remains to be seen, but religious fervor would play its part and Gods name would be evoked yet again when the crusade began.
2007 - As a nation, we bear the responsibility of being guardians to the best beers in the world and cling on to that knowledge jealously at all costs. Until this point, this had included defensive actions against foreign aggressors from all over the globe, but now we were faced with a new challenge to our national treasure and that first hit the public theatre in a local newspaper in Kent called the Kentish Gazette.
In the issue dated 20 September 2007 on page 40, a headline read ‘Can you shed light on ‘UFO’ spotting? In addition, a particular line gave a clue as to the impending threat might well cause national, if not international concern. It reads Sheila Turner who lives in Rough Common said, “It moved past my house and went down the road to the pub (The Dog and Bear), where it seemed to stay for a bit before coming back this way” The landlord declared that neither he, nor any of his customers were aware of the incident, but then I would assume that with such advanced technology any alien incursion could easily be concealed by mimicking the characteristics of local custom.
However, as a nation we now had to consider the ramifications of alien interest in our ale and the strong possibility that they might launch some kind of action to secure its secrets for themselves. Could we bear the responsibility of an advanced civilization imposing its will on the world, at least previous aggression were globally based, but this threat was one that came from the deep unknown.
2012 - many thousands of years ago the Mayan calendar was created that predicted the world would change significantly on the event of the Winter Solstice the 21st of December and whilst scientist’s have been unable to ascertain what factors they applied to base this prediction, it is of growing concern that the hop fields of Kent are beginning to ferment through over use. Should such a disaster inflict itself upon humanity then future existence would be seen as extremely bleak.
So, what sets an Englishman apart is that real ale apart from other beers is technically alive when served. Unlike lesser brews which are pasteurised after production, real ales continue to ferment in the cask or barrel after they leave the brewery. As fermentation continues, carbon dioxide is produced dissolving into the beer. For the stamp of true real ale, it should be hand-pumped as a means of delivery.
As a nation we have so much to be proud of and, should shun those that would do us down in the light of political correctness. We have never been racist and absorbed many cultures willingly over the course of time, but for now successive governments impose upon us to avert racism that is not there to speed up assimilation rather than that which is natural and all we can say in response as good English men is
“Mine’s a pint!”
Quotes worthy of a hearty toast.
Drunk or otherwise, believe it or not, you can read it.
I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the first and last ltteer
be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a
wlohe. Amzanig huh?
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell
happened to your bra and panties.
"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they
wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're
going to feel all day. "
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.
"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
~ Henny Youngman
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not."
~ Stephen Wright
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.
"When we drink, we get drunk When we get drunk,
we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let's all
get drunk and go to heaven!"
~ Brian O'Rourke
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy.
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
~ Benjamin Franklin
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a retard.
"Without question, the greatest invention in the
history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the
wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does
not go nearly as well with pizza."
~ Dave Barry
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them
To some it's a six-pack, to me it's a Support Group. Salvation in a can!
~ Dave Howell
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink
I feel shame. Then I look into the glass and think
about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes
and dreams . If I didn't drink this wine, they might be out
of work and their dreams would be shattered.
Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this wine and let their
dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver."
~ Jack Handy
The Value of Drink
And saving the best for last, as explained by Cliff Clavin, of Cheers.
One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm.
Here's how it went:
"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.