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Shakespeare's Local: Six Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
His story is not necessarily of just this pub but of Southwark itself, this relatively tiny area around the south end of London Bridge into which were forced all the people and pursuits London would not allow within its gates - and which was therefore a bubbling tub of the most fascinating and reprehensible activities. Theatre, prostitution, rebellion, brewery - if it wasn't for the disgusting industries such as soap-boiling, leather-working and lime-burning stinking the place up, surely everyone would have wanted to move there.
The book gives vivid, bustling portraits of this neighbourhood as a bottleneck beneath or needle-point up into the City of London (London Bridge was the only bridge until about the 1750s) in three very different stages. First is the rambunctious medieval Borough, carved up into chunks belonging to bishops and dukes who also owned the countless brothels. This is the mud-splattered, chaotic, lovable district that Chaucer and Shakespeare knew well, when inns were a refuge and a necessity created by the novel habit of travel. In such inns as the George, the nobleman sat (sometimes) alongside all the other members of society, a notion which bestows the opening plot device for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Falstaff is a frequenter of such inns with reckless young Hal, and plays were performed there before they had their own permanent buildings to call home.
The second stage is the heart of the book, where we see the inn we know (very substantial by today's standards) grown to something like eight times its current size. Pete Brown gives a portrait of a huge establishment, offering within its walls almost every kind of business that a small town would need.Read more ›
My only criticism is that the book's illustrations do not transfer well to the Kindle. Consequently, the maps and pictures are blurred and not readable, which is a real pity as they would have put places and events in context . Better to buy the book.
Brown has done lots of research into the George Inn, in Southwark. There is documentary evidence for the pub being on sight in 1542 and it has bee there is one iteration or another ever since. It is suspected that it had been there before, but there is no hard evidence to prove this.
In the book he looks at the way that the function of the building has changed from pub to coaching inn and as it now owned by the National Trust, into a working historical building. There is a lot of history of the Southwark area, mainly to put the pub and inns into a better context. This was one of the main routes int London for many years, and lead to one of the few bridges that crossed the Thames, and the early maps show that the George was one of several hundred pubs in the area.
Where he can he write about the characters linked or loosely associated with the pub. The pub was in existence when Shakespeare was alive, and whilst they cannot prove one way of the other if he every frequented the place, they cannot rule it out. Some of Dickens work mentions the and neighbouring pubs, so he speculates again on his attendance.
Really good local history book, but if you are expecting lots on Shakespeare, you'll be disappointed.
As a recent visitor to this delightful Inn I am so pleased that I have had a chance to share, in my own way, in its history and look forward to returning on my next trip to London.
I would encourage anyone to read this book, as both a history lesson in general about the changing face of London and particularly Southwark over a period of 600 years.
It really brings home the need for local pubs and their importance in helping us identify ourselves in those who have gone before as well as ensuring that places such as this are kept very much alive as a social meeting place for the local community as well as the weary traveller in need of refreshment in the past, the present and the future.
The author Pete Brown, has a relaxed, amusing and informal style of writing and at times you feel like you are actually sat in the George sipping a pint of Porter with Pete telling the tale, rather than actually reading it.
A great read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am glad so many people enjoyed this book. However, I bought it because of the title which turned out to be misleading. Shakespeare doesn't come into it at all really.Published 10 months ago by sophietrophy
I turned to this book during last night's powercut, so the scene was set well as I strruggled to read by candle! Read morePublished 15 months ago by N. Johnson
First book I have read by Pete Brown and I am inclined to read some morePublished 19 months ago by Mr. G. P. Emsden
Impeccably researched and beautifully written.
This should once and for all dispel the myth that drink and drinking are just naughty pastimes.
A great and thought provoking read that romps through the history of a famous inn.
Probably more interesting if you visit the pub first to get a sense of what he is... Read more
Superb combination of history on the subjects of beer, pubs and Southwark with literary references thrown in. I shall have to visit The George to complete the experience.Published on 22 Jan. 2014 by Peter Terry
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