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What is a Pub? 
The Editor does some research 

It was the sort of day you didn’t want to work. The sun was shining and the office was hot. Sitting at my desk I could see across the street to the open door of "The Frog and Ferret Public House" I began thinking of the pints of Old Frothy I would soon be enjoying when all of a sudden, BANG! The office door crashed open and in stomped Hilda. “So you think you know what a pub is then, do you?” she cackled, “Ok then clever dick, what’s the difference between Pubs, Taverns, Inns, and Hostelries?” just as abruptly she left.

Hilda is a very strange woman she likes to see everyone happy except me. Her question had never occurred to me before; I’m not even sure why she asked me. I have never cared what a pub is called; all that matters is that it sells good beer. But curiosity got the better of me and to show Hilda how useful and resourceful I could be. I decided to investigate, I reasoned the best place to find out the definition of these ancient words would be to look in the old trusty office dictionary. This is what I found ....

Dictionary Definition
Pub (pub) n. (colloq) public-house n. inn, or tavern for sale of alcoholic liquors for consumption on premises 
Inn(in) n. a house that provides lodging accommodation for travellers; a hotel. 
Tavern(tav’-ern)  n. licensed house for sale of liquor; inn; hostelry 
[L. taberna, booth]. 
Hostelry (hos’telry) n. an inn derived from [L. hospes, a host or guest] 
Al2 1BL Colney Fox
Ok, so what did the dictionary tell me? 
A pub is an inn or tavern that sells liquor to the public 
An inn is a hotel that provides accommodation, 
A tavern sells booze and is an inn or hostelry 
And a hostelry is an inn! 

Well that seems quite straightforward to a twisted mind ! 

The only trouble is, it’s wrong! Most pubs are called Inns, Taverns and Hotels yet most don’t offer accommodation. In fact only about 8% of all Public Houses in Britain have any sort of accommodation. This means there are 92% who will be less than helpful when the tired traveller comes along looking for shelter, to be fair the confusion is caused by tradition. Inns and Taverns did originally offer lodgings, but as times changed most publicans concentrated on their drink trade and accommodation was largely forgotten. The names of the pubs however often stayed the same.

Nowadays the only really sure way of knowing if an Inn offers accommodation is to ask. Unfortunately contacting 65,000 Pubs scattered across the whole of Great Britain can be a very time consuming business, but now, thanks to pub passionate people like Hilda things are a lot easier. The traveller no longer has to contact hundreds of pubs or worry whether a pub is called an inn, a tavern or an anything else, because Hilda will do it all for them.

Hilda spends all day phoning and contacting pubs, chatting to customers, questioning bar staff, harassing managers and finding out as much as she can about Inns, Taverns, Hostelries and Pubs. If Hilda has entered a pub in the guide you can bet your life she has talked to someone at the pub and it will (or did at the time) offer accommodation. And why does Hilda do all this? She says it gives her a warm glow just to know she has helped a tired traveller to bide awhile, relax and rest his or her weary head….If only she could feel the same about me when I feel the need for a quiet moment.

Dave Cromack 

This article first appeared in the "Stay in a Pub Guide Book"

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