Hot off the Press!

07 February 2024

The Brewers' Book

A transcript of the Memorandum Book of William Porlond, one of the Brewers’ Company’s chief treasures, has been published.

Our Archivist was delighted to find a parcel waiting for her this week – the keenly anticipated publication of part 1 of The Brewers’ Book – an edition of the memorandum book of William Porlond who was Clerk to the Brewers’ Company from 1418 to 1440.

Edited by Caroline Metcalfe and published by the London Record Society, there is so much material (656 pages, 120,000 or so words, handwritten in Norman French, Latin and English) that a second volume will be published later, covering the period 1429-40. This first volume covers 1418-25.

The contents include lists of those entering the freedom, detailed payments for repairs to the Hall and building an almshouse for poor members, descriptions of livery cloth bought, the supply of ale to the household of Queen Katherine and for her coronation, and an account of the funeral processions for King Henry V in 1422 in London and Westminster.

Alongside the transcription is a select glossary (e.g. a kimnel or kemelyn was a tub used for brewing), a list of named properties, mostly brewhouses known by their signs (e.g. the Chough at Billingsgate beside the sign of Christopher), a comprehensive index of people and places and an illuminating introduction covering subjects including the role of the Clerk, the Brewers’ almshouse, feasts at Brewers’ Hall and our quarrels with Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London.

Caroline first worked on Porlond’s book for her Master’s degree in Medieval Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2010-2012. By complete coincidence she began her career teaching history at Dame Alice Owen’s School, one of two schools supported by the Brewers’ Company for over 400 years.

A book launch will take place at Brewers’ Hall on 5 March – if you would like to attend please email Kate Longhurst.