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Public House Project

One of the assignments of the Tavern module is a public house project of 3,000 words (worth 40 %), due at the end of the Spring Term by the Tabula deadline. This can take one of two forms (with the choice of topic / project to be finalized in consultation with the tutor by the end of the Autumn term):


  • EITHER a classic extended essay on a particular theme like: 'Who controlled early modern public houses?', 'Were early modern publicans members of an elite?', 'Did early modern Europeans drink too much alcohol?, 'Were public houses good or bad for the early modern economy?', 'How significant was the presence of women in early modern public house', 'Were early modern public houses ‘mass schools of crime?' - BUT you are encouraged to devise your own topic in consultation with the module tutor. The department's regular essay marking criteria will apply;
  • OR a report of personal research on a specific historic public house (of your choosing which may or may not still exist); alternatively a survey of the public house topography/history of a particular town / village / reagion. Such works could engage with architecture, material culture, oral, visual and written records (or a combination), with assessment criteria going beyond regular essay descriptors to aspects such as the development of viable research questions, resourcefulness and the critical analysis of primary sources - BUT before you go down this road, do spend some time in the Autumn Term checking whether there is sufficient material to sustain such a project. Starting-points could be:
    • Licensing records issued by justices of the peace, borough councils etc. For initial orientation see: Victuallers' Licences: Records for Family and Local Historians, ed. J. Gibson and J. Hunter (2nd edn, Birmingham: Federation of Family History Societies, 1997);
    • Building deeds / plans, maps, photographs, prospects - specialized collections are available in most local archives & libraries (e.g. the Warwickshire County Record Office);
    • Existing local / regional histories of public houses (town libraries often have special local collections worth leafing through), e.g.: Judith Hunter & Dennis Ayres, The Inns and Public Houses of Wokingham (Reading: Berkshire Books, 1994); Raymond Moody, The Inns of Burford, Part I: The High Street (Burford, 1996); J. Munby, ‘Zacharias’s: A 14th Century Oxford New Inn and the Origins of the Medieval Urban Inn’, Oxoniensia 57 (1992), 245-309; Jacqui Pearce, 'Down at the Old Ship and Ball - taverns, trade and daily life in the London borough of Southwark', in: Post-Medieval Archaeology 50 (2/2016), 181-226;
    • Family / business archives of publicans (preferably with long-term association with specific premises) or breweries - these might contain deeds, contracts, accounts, building / listing records, inventories, wills ... - why not have a chat with the owner / manager of a potentially eligible public house? They might even be interested in finding out more about their past;
    • Oral testimonies from local residents (see the resources & initiatives of Warwick's Oral History Network);
    • ... and perhaps have a look at this (University of Zurich) introduction to working in archives: CRIME IN THE ARCHIVES

Archive Box

The family archive of the Weiss innkeeping dynasty at the Hotel zur Post in Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich in Bavaria stretches back to the 17th century. Pic: BK.