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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding and funny history of London through one pub and the street outside
Pete Brown's history of one hugely historical London pub is a very funny, interesting and enjoyable book.
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...
Published 20 months ago by Bruno Vincent

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3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect anoher Hops and Glory
I've read my way through all of Pete Browns books, and found them to be pretty quick paced journeys through the bars and culture of the UK and Europe, or of a style of beer an its impact on the British Empire and the world, but Shakespeare's Local is a little different

Apart from the title which is a little disingenuous, as theres no evidence that the pub...
Published 11 months ago by Sam Tait


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding and funny history of London through one pub and the street outside, 14 Dec 2012
Pete Brown's history of one hugely historical London pub is a very funny, interesting and enjoyable book.
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. It's hard to imagine an inn something like the size of a cruise ship, but it was - and on Borough High Street there were ten, twelve, fifteen of them all in a row, such was the business coming into London and across the Thames.
After the sudden death of the dashing stagecoach (why did I never think before, when I called someone a 'slowcoach', where that phrase came from?) at the hands of the railways, we see the inn becoming what it is today: a loved and carefully preserved instrument of nostalgia.
Pete Brown's approach to history is respectful of the attitude of the historical residents of Borough - which is to say, he is irreverent and frequently takes the piss out of persons he thinks has it coming. I regretfully failed to make it to the George and drink a pint of Abbot as I read the closing pages, but I look forward to being there soon in the taproom, and looking up at the Parliament Clock, and thinking how this room used to be divided into three. And thinking of the six hundred years of drinkers, travellers and locals this book introduces you to.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, shame about the pictures., 14 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Shakespeare's Local: Seven Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's full of interesting information about the area and the people who lived (and live) there. The author's familiarity with the reader is engaging which makes the book an even better read. He also explains the "why" as well as simply what happened in Southwark down the ages. It is much more than just a history of a particular inn.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love pubs, love this book., 22 Jan 2013
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A great journey through the metamorphasis of a wonderful old pub. It could be one of many thousands that have always been there, changing to suit their evolving communities. Brilliant read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 9 Jan 2013
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J. Duncan (Sunderland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This was given to me as a Christmas present because we'd 'discovered' the George during the Twelfth Night celebrations in 2012 and couldn't believe such an historic gem was nestling so close to London Bridge station. Since then I've been keen to learn more about this amazing place and Brown's book provides the best, most entertaining and authoritative guide I can imagine. I loved his writing style, especially his more anarchic footnotes, and was entirely absorbed from cover to cover. I'm not a frequent pub goer and I'm a real cider rather than a real ale girl, but I now must read Pete Brown's other books - if they're half as good as this one, they'll be brilliant. New Year's Resolution is to go back to the George for a pint in 2013. If I see Mr Brown in his usual spot, I'll gladly stand him a drink! Cheers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Book, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Shakespeare's Local: Seven Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub (Kindle Edition)
This was most absorbing and informative written in a relaxed manner,found I could not put it down. It could so easily have been boring. And most certainly was not!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Local, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Shakespeare's Local: Seven Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub (Kindle Edition)
Really liked the book as it evoked the past and gave a real feel for the life of a pub over the years. It also wandered over other areas were gave extra interest
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 14 Feb 2013
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Mrs. V. Hogben "Ronnie the cook" (Kent England) - See all my reviews
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Once I started on the book I didn't want to put it down.Very well researched and the facts are presented in an easily read manner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun and full of info, 15 Jan 2013
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If you like pubs (or Inns if you know the difference and if you read this book, you will) this is the book for you. Packed with interesting stuff about Southwark, pubs, Chaucer and more. You will get to know why we say 'slow coach' which is a boon at dinner parties. Its great fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 11 May 2014
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R. Challis "Groomkirby" (chilled north UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shakespeare's Local: Seven Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub (Kindle Edition)
Impeccably researched and beautifully written.
This should once and for all dispel the myth that drink and drinking are just naughty pastimes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and interesting, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Shakespeare's Local: Seven Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub (Kindle Edition)
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 talking about.
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