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Check out the browser extension in the Firefox Add-ons Store. Please forward this error screen to sharedip-1071803217. Please forward this error screen to sharedip-1071803217. Inns and Taverns of Old London by Henry C.

Such was the case from the earliest period of which there is any record. The name of the borough supplies the clue. Southwark is really the south-work of London, that is, the southern defence or fortification of the city. The Thames is here a moat of spacious breadth and formidable depth, yet the Romans did not trust to that defence alone, but threw up further obstacles for any enemy approaching the city from the south. All this had a natural result in times of peace. As London Bridge was the only causeway over the Thames, and as the High street of Southwark was the southern continuation of that causeway, it followed that diplomatic visitors from the Continent and the countless traders who had business in the capital were obliged to use this route coming and going.

The logical result of this constant traffic is seen in the countless inns of the district. Although no definite evidence is available, it is reasonable to conclude that the most ancient inns of Southwark were established at least as early as the most ancient hostelries of the city itself. To which, however, the prize of seniority is to be awarded can never be known. Yet on one matter there can be no dispute. Pride of place among the inns of Southwark belongs unquestionably to the Tabard.

But in the early history of the hostelry no fact stands out so clearly as that it was chosen by Chaucer as the starting-point for his immortal Canterbury pilgrims. More than two centuries had passed since Thomas a Becket had fallen before the altar of St. Benedict in the minster of Canterbury, pierced with many swords as his reward for contesting the supremacy of the Church against Henry II. What a parcel of fools and dastards have I nourished in my house, cried the monarch when the struggle had reached an acute stage, that not one of them will avenge me of this one upstart clerk! Four knights took the king at his word, posted with all speed to Canterbury, and charged the prelate to give way to the wishes of the sovereign.

In vain you threaten me, Becket rejoined. If all the swords in England were brandishing over my head, your terrors could not move me. And then the swords of the knights flashed in the dim light of the minster and another name was added to the Church’s roll of martyrs. The murder sent a thrill of horror through all Christendom Becket was speedily canonized, and his tomb became the objective of countless pilgrims from every corner of the Christian world. In Chaucer’s days, some two centuries later, the pilgrimage had become a favourite occupation of the devout. Each awakening of the year, when the rains of April had laid the dust of March and aroused the buds of tree and herb from their winter slumber, the longing to go on a pilgrimage seized all classes alike. That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.