What is Pubology?

Pubology was coined by Chas Saunders many years ago. THE PUBOLOGIST was a magazine about pubs which he self-published ‘further back than I wish to remember’. Little is known about it now (at least by us) because it was evidently not successful and Chas afterwards drew a veil of mercy over the whole thing.

However, his love of pubs continued and he took to proclaiming himself PUBOLOGIST as he drank his merry way through inns, hostelries and pubs in the name of research.

man drinking from a horn After a long and often extinguished career in other fields, but never entirely neglecting the Inn World, around 2006 Chas and his small band of creative imbibers embarked on a revamp of PUBOLOGY for an age of computer technology and digital photography. With a new website, a membership of CAMRA and a dozen beer-stained maps,  Chas and his friends travelled far and wide exploring the quirky foibles of British history via the noble art of quaffing.

Whether you think of this island as Little Britain or Great Britain, the facts are undeniable. The story of Britain can be uncovered via inns, taverns and hostelries. Pubs have history on tap. Pubology is a positive and pleasant way of drinking in British history and embracing our heritage and traditions whilst we still have any.

History runs through the pubs of our land like some giant circulatory system with beer in its veins. They are an integral part of our country’s fabric. Pubs have seen it all. Unless you choose mountains, moors or motorways, it is impossible to be more than five miles away from a pub. Want a village pub? Look for a church spire. Want directions? Turn right at the Red Lion and left at the White Hart.

Winged man drinking a yard of aleThe Romans covered Britain in roads and vastly increased the number of weary travellers in need of refreshment. When the Romans left, the Christians took over. But whenever a church or abbey opened for business, there was already a hostelry, inn or tavern beside it – built to sustain the thirsty church builders. Monks were adept at brewing. After the dissolution of the monasteries the pubs remained.Beer has been considered one of the necessities of life since the Bronze Age. Rules and regulations for ale houses go back to before Alfred the Great. The institution of inn signs goes back further than you may think. In Roman times it was a bit of bush on a pole, but painting your own sign on wood soon came into vogue. Few people could read or write, but soon caught on to the idea of a logo.

Man drinking from a barrelPubs are living monuments to every architectural style that has ever evolved. From wattle and daub to castles. From Tudor coaching inns to Edwardian railway pubs. Around two thousand listed buildings are pubs, and many more used to be. Pubs are not just about pouring pints; they have served as courthouses, jails, hospitals, post offices, secret meeting places, club houses, sporting venues…

You can quaff history as you drink. You name it, a pub has been at the centre of it: wars, power struggles, strikes, momentous events, inventions. Parliament itself is practically Publiament – the wheeling and dealing goes on in the bars where political sides mingle. (And they have their own licensing laws). And of course the revenue and duty from breweries and pubs keeps the country going.

Man drinking from a bottleThere is not a British writer of any repute since Chaucer who has not found inspiration in a pub. Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle, Johnson, Orwell. Even Jane Austen dined and possibly danced in inns, but only in the ballroom. (Yes, a coaching inn can have a ballroom). In pubs, authors have rubbed shoulders with highwaymen, royalty, beggars, maidens, smugglers, sportsmen, judges, parsons, explorers, generals, heroes, ghosts, barmaids, rogues, lovers, artists, poets, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. And you still can.

The Roving Pubologist

Pubs to the left
Pubs to the right
Pubs that are black
Pubs that are white
No Singing or Dancing Pubs for kings
Pubs for queens
Pubs for adults
Pubs for teens
And pubs with beams
That always leans
Tap rooms, taverns
Jails with ales
Mine hosts with ghosts
And Holy Grails
Flagstone floors
And firelight gleams
Studded doors
And pint-sized dreams
Down the hatch
Under the thatch
With inglenooks
And brews to match
The Traveller’s Rest?
The Elephant’s Nest?
Over the hills and far away
Which pub will I pick today..?

No singing or dancing!