Thursday, 23 February 2012

When all this was fields. . .

Looking at it now, it's strange to think of Chesterton as a rural idyll. Yet even by the time this pub was built, in the middle of the 19th century, the rural nature of Chesterton was beginning to turn suburban following inclosure in 1836 and the subsequent influx of ‘townies’ from Cambridge. So the name of the Haymakers, and of the Wheatsheaf which used to stand on the corner opposite, were already harking back to a ‘lost’ age.  
As well as providing a popular (albeit often ersatz) name for a pub, images of haymakers resting (or sometimes frolicking) after a long day working (or sometimes frolicking) in the fields have long been a popular theme amongst artists. The scene on this sign is based on La Charette by Louse Le Nain (1600–1648).

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

‘The moon, like to a silver bow’

The Half Moon Inn, Little St Mary’s Lane, Cambridge

The Half Moon hasn’t been a pub for many years, long before my time in Cambridge, and I didn’t even know about it until about a year ago, when I began my quest for Cambridge’s ‘dead pubs’. The sign still remains, though, a silent witness.* Yet how many times have I walked past it over the years and not noticed?
As a point of historical interest, a pub of this name, a decent three-storey establishment, originally stood on the corner of St Mary’s Lane and Trumpington Street until in 1875 it had to make way for the Emmanuel United Reform Church. Presumably the name just moved down the lane to these smaller premises, which was certainly a pub in 1885.

(*Update: This sign is actually a copy. The original, which is gilded rather than white, sits in a cabinet in the Museum of Cambridge.)