A Brief History of the British Pub

MD_INT16The history of pubs in the United Kingdom follows closely with the history of the British Isles. Today, pubs are thought of as a decidedly English concept, but it was not always that way. The first public houses were not English at all. In fact, they were a foreign concept brought by an invading force. The history of pubs is both interesting and educational, explaining many of the customs seen today in the cities of the world.

Roads Across the Roman Empire

When the Romans came to England several thousand years ago, they brought many technological advances with them. One very important change made to the English countryside was the establishment of roads. The Romans built a network of highways across Europe with which to supply their armies. Building roads in England fast became a priority for the conquering Roman army.

Tabernas and Pubs

With the ability to travel along established roads it became necessary to build places for travelers to stay the night on journeys. Inns began to spring up along the roadways, especially at major intersections. The Romans called these structures Tabernas. It made sense for the Tabernas to offer food and drink to weary travelers. Soon, the Tabernas became meeting places for locals to come and hear news from the rest of the world over dinner and spirits. Eventually, the Romans left, but the pubs remained and were renamed Public Houses, to signify their importance to the meeting and congregation of people in the area.

Traditional Signs Across the World

The name was changed, but many of the customs remained. The existence of colorful and personalized pub signs has Roman roots. The Romans did not like to be cheated when paying for a drink, so they ordered that all Tabernas be required to hang a sign out front, denoting that spirits were sold within. This way regulators could find the taberna and inspect the strength and quality of the brew being offered. Today, pubs around the world keep this tradition alive by proudly displaying ornate signs, embellished with their name and often a coat of arms.