Pub scenes from around the world: Cross Keys Inn, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

On the Suffolk Coast, I am reliably told, is one of the most beautiful towns in the UK - Aldeburgh. And so in our series of Pubs around the world and Coast to Coast I thought we should check this village out. Thanks to E in London you have already seen some images from Aldeburgh looking out to sea- if we turn the camera around this is the sight you will behold!

Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK Photo: Steven Wilkinson (1)

What a wonderland of quaint and enticing buildings! But does it have a pub?

Of course it does - every English village has a pub or two or three. And in Aldeburgh the oldest is the Cross Keys Inn.

Cross Keys Inn Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK (2)

I was attracted to this pub not only because it was recommended by E in London and is very pretty but because of the gorgeous pub sign depicting the crossed keys.

Pub sign for The Cross Keys Aldeburgh Suffolk Uk (3)

Britain has a unique heritage in its inn signs: a record of its history and the people who made it. Inn signs depict everything, from battles to inventions, from sporting heroes to royalty.4

The origin of inn signs goes back to the Romans. The ‘Tabernae’ would hang vine leaves outside to show that they sold wine – in Britain, as vine leaves are rare (due to the climate!), small evergreen bushes were substituted. One of the first Roman tavern signs was the ‘Bush’. Early pubs hung long poles or ale stakes, which might have been used to stir the ale, outside their doors. If both wine and ale were sold, then both bush and pole would be hung outside.4

The naming of inns and pubs became common by the 12th century. With pub names came pub signs – as the majority of the population could not read or write. In 1393, King Richard II passed an Act making it compulsory for pubs and inns to have a sign (his own emblem the ‘White Hart’ in London) in order to identify them to the official Ale Taster. Ever since then, inn names and signs have reflected, and followed, British life at that time.4

While you are having lunch and a nice drink at Cross Keys Inn you can pop down to the beach to see the sculpture made by local-born artist Maggi Hambling to composer Benjamin Britten who lived in Aldeburgh and walked almost daily along the stretch of coastline between there and Thorpeness.

The Scallop - monument to Benjamin Britten - by Maggi Hambling (5)