Whipping Piccadilly (Well, Cheapside)

By M@ Last edited 158 months ago
Whipping Piccadilly (Well, Cheapside)

(To the tune of Love and Marriage.)

Whips and beer. Whips and beer. Go together like a slap and Germaine Greer.

OK, it doesn’t quite scan, but nobody’s perfect. Least of all our medieval ancestors, who sported huge beer guts and enjoyed whipping one another. Or at least that’s the ancestral picture we’re painting after reading about a couple of recent archaeological finds in the capital.

It’s all well-timed PR by the Museum of London, whose new Medieval Galleries open, slightly later than planned, this Friday. Exhibits include a Saxon slave whip, found in Cheapside, and a collection of mugs and Toby jugs depicting our paunchy forebears.

Back in the 1300s, London was swimming in beer. One drinking den for every 50 citizens, so they say. It wasn’t just people out for a good time. Beer was a healthy alternative to water, which was usually stagnant or worse in the widespread conditions of low sanitation.

The whip, meanwhile, was (disappointingly) used to punish slaves, and for not Saxon S&M. It forms the centrepiece of the new galleries, which display artefacts from the withdrawal of the Romans (~450 AD) to the coronation of Elizabeth I (~1560). Londonist will no-doubt be paying a visit shortly. You can also look forward to an upcoming Londonist Loves article on Anglo-Saxon London, as a kind of sequel to our post on Roman London.

Last Updated 21 November 2005