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         BEYOND THE ORDINARY Small green logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH
"What event is more awfully important to an English colony than the erection of its first brew house."
                                                                                                   - Reverend Sidney Smith


The bar at Jessops Tavern in new Castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
THE BAR AT JESSOPS TAVERN IN NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE


Jessup Tavern sign in new Castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House ReviewWhile I can not attest to the Swedish or Dutch position on the matter of fermented or distilled beverages, I can with some authority address the English point of view. And when England gained control of the settlement of New Amstel on the Delaware River in 1664, an area whose possession had been contested by the Netherlands and Sweden since 1638, they immediately went about the business of brewing beer, establishing taverns and changing the name of the town to New Castle.

The brewing of ale in the colonies was much more than just a matter of recreational consumption. Lacking the knowledge of basic sanitation procedures left most local supplies of fresh water unfit to drink. Though the cause and effect aspect of boiling that same water in order to make beer was not understood, the resulting finished product was enjoyed by every man, woman and child.

The tavern as an institution in America became codified under English law. The Crown sought to enhance commerce in the colonies by the establishment of licensed inns and public houses. The resulting travel and trade generated by these town centers not only engendered local prosperity; but they also helped to fill English coffers back home via the assorted tax revenues on goods and services.


Fireplace at Jessops Tavern in new castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
The front window at Jessops Tavern in new Castle Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
THE COZY FIREPLACE  
       DISTINCTIVE SHIP MODEL IN THE FRONT WINDOW 


The British sorely needed every bit of revenue that they could extract from their colonies in order to finance their military squabbles on the continent and on the high seas. These threats at home left the Crown reluctant to leave a large free standing army in America. When it came to dealing with the attacks from privateers on the coast, hostiles on the frontier or the French from Canada, the colonists were expected to provide for their own defense.

Royal governors formed militias; but it was difficult to get these unpaid volunteer farmers and tradesman to abandon their families and responsibilities in order go off and train on a regular basis. The solution to

this crisis would once again be found in that most enduring of English institutions, the tavern.


Three Crown Store in New Castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
AN AUTHENTIC HEARTH NEXT DOOR IN THE THREE CROWNS STORE SOON TO BE PART OF JESSOP'S TAVERN


Volunteers would be given free ale if they agreed to show up at the designated public house to conduct drills. Soon the ranks of the militias swelled, and regular training could be ordered up at the drop of a hat, or at least at the first drop of free beer. For the small investment of a few barrels the colonies soon fielded extremely proficient citizen soldiers.

These organized gatherings brought together men from different areas and different walks of life. With a tankard in one hand and a musket in the other, one could safely expect that there would eventually be some discourse about life under British rule. Unwittingly the Crown had planted the seeds of its own demise in her American Colonies. 



The public landing at New castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
Dock at the public landing in New Castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
NEW CASTLE'S PUBLIC LANDING
A BULKHEAD WALKWAY AT THE LANDING


If one were to approach New Castle from the public landing on the Delaware River, as would have been the case with most new arrivals during the 17th and 18th centuries, it is likely that the first point of interest beyond the charming row of Federal style brick homes would be Jessopís Tavern. This handsome renovated 1724 colonial public house perfectly sets the stage for the rest of onesí New Castle experience.


Doors in New Castle, Delaware as seen in American Public House Review
NEW CASTLE IS BOTH A LIVING, CONTEMPORARY TOWN AND A MUSEUM OF COLONIAL CULTURE

During a recent session at Jessopís myself and the magazineís creative director were schooled in some of the lesser known customs of colonial life by the tavernís affable owner, Richard Day. One of the things that we learned was the history of the term, 'ordinary.'

In the colonies any tavern or inn that served a complete meal at a fixed price was referred to as an ordinary. After a couple of pints of local handcrafted ales, a hardy meal and some great conversation with the staff and patrons - I can attest to the fact that Jessopís is well beyond the ordinary.






Jessop's Tavern


114 DELAWARE STREET
NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE 19720


(302) 322-6111


JESSOP'S HAS NO WEBSITE
 BUT TWO GOOD NEW CASTLE LINKS ARE:


www.jessops-tavern.com




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