Not far from where I live is a place called Bidford, a lovely old village on the banks of the river Avon in rural Warwickshire. We used to go there with our parents to eat picnics by the river bank and play in the meadow by the river and I have been there with my own kids to do the same.
Now that spring is here and the days are getting longer and warmer it is time to start getting out and about – I love the idea that we are so often following the same paths that our ancestors explored before us.
There is a story that Bidford was famous for it’s beer drinkers and that one day a group from Stratford came to the village and started drinking with the locals. Amongst the Stratford visitors was a young man called Shakespeare who tried and failed to out drink the Bidford men.
The group fell into a drunken sleep and the story is that Shakespeare spent the night sleeping under a tree. When he woke next day Shakespeare is said to have declined the offer of more Ale by saying that he had drunk at:
Piping Pebworth, dancing Marston,
Haunted Hillbro, hungry Grafton,
Dudging Exhall, Papist Wicksford,
Beggarly Broom and drunken Bidford.
Take a look at Google maps for the area – it is quite easy to find most of the places mentioned in this rhyme although I am not sure I ever came across ‘Hillbro’ – does anyone know where this was/is? (Update July 2010 – see comments below, thanks to the ‘Hairy Farmer family’ – see link)
If you have never visited any of these places then I can recommend you try to look them out one day – although try to avoid drinking too much in Bidford!
PS. Whilst I am on the subject of Tudor era booze ups – is this a good excuse to look at this clip from Blackadder?
For more about Beer see this post