Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Blue Pig, Grantham

The Blue Pig, Grantham ©Graham White
We've adopted the Blue Pig pub in Grantham as our home-away-from-home local. Oddly enough we don't have one specific local pub we visit at home but here, in Grantham, where we are strangers it provides us with the comforting illusion of belonging to the place when we visit my mother.

Similarly we previously adopted The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds when my mother lived in Suffolk for many years. This pub's claim to fame was as the smallest pub in England and when mum relocated we mourned this tiny pub with all the US dollar bills stuck on the ceiling and the dried body of the cat hanging from a hook, along with the eccentric bar staff and the often rather odd customers (including, I suppose, us).

Taking my time sketching in the bar

So the Blue Pig proved to be a good Nutshell substitute. It dates back to Tudor times and the rough old beams are genuinely rough and old. When it is cold enough coal fires burn in grates in both the bars and the food is filling if unimaginative. All in all it is a cosy place to perch yourself for as long as you like and you won't be expected to make any conversation you don't want to. It is set in the small medieval road plan of Grantham, Lincolnshire close to St Wulfram's Anglican church. This is one of the largest medieval churches in the country, built around 1300 and it has a remarkably detailed, decorated wooden roof which is a wonderful distraction during a church service.

The name of the pub has its roots in 19th century political rivalry between the Manners family (the Duke of Rutland from Bevoir Castle) and the Brownlow family from Belton House. The Manners family were Whigs and chose Blue as their colour. They bought several pubs in the constituency and added blue to their names so there used to be, in addition to the Blue Pig, the Blue Lion, the Blue Horse and the Blue Dog where supporters could declare their political allegiance and drink blue ale. This was in the days when there was no secret ballot and aspiring politicians, who were invariably the local landowners, bought their votes. In time these corrupt practices became illegal and eventually one man, one vote became the rule.

In time the Tory party (the Conservatives) adopted blue as their colour and in the late 20th century they were led by Margaret Thatcher, to date our only woman Prime Minister. She was born and brought up in Grantham and after her death last year her blue silk, prime ministerial suit was part of a display about her life in the local museum.


Anonymous said...

As you can guess I miss the pubs of the UK. Spend too many lunchtimes Hare and Hounds eating my ploughman's lunch and nursing a half pint of lager. If I was flush, I would push out the boat and get a 2nd!
I did not know the info about the blue, show your colours story.
Happy New Year, Heather and look forward to another year of interesting stories and lots of art.

Heather James said...

I remember the Hare and Hounds too. Happy New Year to you too Jacqui, I hope we both make much interesting art this year.