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The Fryern Ladies Probus Club – 4th August 2016

Lunch-time meeting at The Roundabout Hotel, West Chiltington

Our most recent speaker was the accomplished Dr Janet Pennington, a born and bred county girl and who more able to speak on one of our favourite subjects – The History of Sussex Inn Signs.

Janet has an impressive range of 18 talk titles from shoes/witches/shopping as well as being able to give guided/historical walks around local areas explaining architectural and social history.

During her talk we discovered a whole new vision that lies behind the common village pub signs that we take for granted, and how they can reveal patronage, land ownership, history and social status as well as advertising the quick drink in passing.

We discovered that ale houses and inns were two very different establishments and that ale (being made without added hops) was produced every few days but that beer (plus the hops) lasted forever! Ale houses were lower class but inns definitely for the upper class with accommodation and stables plus the usual rip off charges.

Inn signs had meaning and there were 17 White Horse Inns in West Sussex originally depicting the heraldry of the powerful Dukes of Norfolk. The Crown Inn depicts loyalty to the monarchy and The Dolphin and The Anchor are religious symbols for Christ/Hope/Salvation. The Swan Inn reflects the purity of The Virgin Mary and The Star Inn the Star of Bethlehem.

We appreciated the tradition that all inns originally showed a ‘Chequers’ which can be clearly seen in William Hogarth’s work and that there is a pub called The Three Kings with a pub sign showing Elvis, King Kong and Henry VIII – that’s in London of course!

Wine was later represented by the hanging of bunches of grapes at the end of the inn sign, often with a model of The Wine God Bacchus, and we were also informed that there is only one pub ever to be called The Black Rabbit.

Sue Borrett warmly thanked Janet for her informative and entertaining talk promising that we would all pay more attention to pub signs in the future.

[extracted from West Sussex County Times – 16 August 2016]

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