‘The Heart of England’: The History & Design of British Pubs
The 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys described the pub as the heart of England. Indeed, their history can be traced back to Roman occupied taverns and Anglo-Saxon alehouses. In the 18th century, the alehouse evolved to the “public house”—a private establishment providing alcohol to be consumed on the premises—and by the mid-19th century, the number of public houses skyrocketed, becoming important leisure sites for the working classes.
The Victorian era saw the creation of flamboyant pub interiors, notable for their sumptuously decorated mirrors, tiled walls, and etched glass “snob screens.” Examples include the exquisite Crown Bar (c. 1826) in Belfast; and The Black Friar in London whose high style Arts & Crafts interior is clad in colored marble with ornamental friezes.
British historian Ian Cox will discuss this fascinating history of pubs in Britain. He will illustrate their changing architectural and interior style and show how new technologies and burgeoning social and economic changes led to the popularity of such lively establishments.