Copyright © 2007 by"Jim McCulloch"
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British Customs and Traditions
The Bowler hat, was designed in 1850 by Hat Makers James and George Lock of London for a gentleman farmer named William Coke. . The Bowler was originally known as the "Coke or Iron Hat". The Locks sent their design to the hatmakers Thomas Bowler and his uncle William Bowler at their works in Southward London who produced the prototype of the hat for Coke.
The concept of the “Coke” was that it should fit closely to the head so as not to fly off when Horse Riding and to protect the wearer from low hanging tree branches.
When William Coke received the prototype he jumped all over it and the hat withstood this dramatic treatment so he went ahead and purchased it.
“Lock and Company Hatters” are still in business to this day in James Street London.
Famous wearers of the Bowler have been Winston Churchill, John Steed of Avengers fame, Odd Job from James Bond’s Goldfinger Fame, Charlie Chaplin, Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army and Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
The name Beefeaters is often thought to come from the French word - 'buffetier'. (Buffetiers were guards in the palace of French kings. They protected the king's food.) However, the name Beefeater is more likely to have originated from the time when the Yeomen Warders at the Tower were paid part of their salary with chunks of beef. This took place right up until the 1800s.
The guards at the Tower of London are called Yeoman Warders. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British Crown Jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right. There are twelve Yeomen Warders.
They also form the Queen's Body Guard, known as the Yeoman of the Guard. There are 73 Yeomen of the Guard, all of whom are former officers and sergeants of the British Services.
It is the oldest of the Royal bodyguards and the oldest military corps in existence in Britain
The Yeomen of the Guard have a purely ceremonial role. They accompany the Sovereign at the annual Royal Maundy Service, investitures and summer Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, and so on. Their most famous duty is to "ceremonially" search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster prior to the State Opening of Parliament, a tradition that dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament.
A Morris Dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.
Pubs and Pub Signs
Public Houses or Pubs” are a well founded British tradition going back many centuries to the Roman occupation days. Pubs were set up as a refreshment stop for weary travelers but now have become varied in the wares they sell.
Village Pubs still to this day tend to be a favourite gathering place to catch up with local gossip, have a game of Darts or Dominoes and of course to drink some fine ale and beer.
City pubs now tend to be glitzy plastic places serving food and beer but usually with some sort of entertainment on weekends.
Pubs in Britain have seen dramatic changes over the decades ranging from no Licensing to Licensed Establishments, from very short opening hours to much longer hours, sometimes all day if food is sold.
To a great extent the typical village pub still retains the old image of a pub that most people know.
But where did pub signs come from?
The origin of inn signs goes back to the Romans. The Inn owners or 'Tabernae' would hang vine leaves outside to show that they sold wine - in Britain, as vine leaves are rare (due to the climate!), small evergreen bushes were substituted. One of the first Roman tavern signs was the 'Bush'. Early pubs hung long poles or ale stakes, which might have been used to stir the ale, outside their doors. If both wine and ale were sold, then both bush and pole would be hung outside.
Later on Pub Signs became varied in their design but often reflected the area that they were sighted in.
Famous and typical Pub names are “The Rose and Crown”, “The Red Lion “, “The Railway”, “The Kings Head”
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