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Wayside Tavern, A > A Wayside Tavern

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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments I've never read A Wayside Tavern myself; but a question came up about it on another thread, so I thought it deserved its own thread. The question was as to whether the invaders here were Vikings or Saxons; and it was suggested that a living arrangement in which everybody slept in a common, large open hall might be peculiar to the former. Actually, though, this seems to have been part of a broad cultural pattern characteristic of all these Aryan-descended groups, so that it was as much Saxon as Viking. "Although the living arrangements of Aryan households differed somewhat from one locality to another, the basic patterns were much the same everywhere. There was a central building, the Hall.... The household head and his relatives lived in the Hall, where all ate and slept together." -- Ralph Linton, The Tree of Culture

message 2: by Barbara (last edited Nov 21, 2010 10:05PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments In the Gildersons thread, I posted this, as I was interested in the Viking/AngloSaxon/Horned Men thing too.
Sweyn and his father build a hall certainly along the lines you are describing ( Gilda, being Roman- influenced prefers a lower, more decorated and comfortable dwelling place)

Here is an interesting link,I thought,
on the Angli ( or Angles). Gilda says she can make out the Horned Men's speech and even speak something like it, remembering it from her mother. So her seafaring grandfather was an Angle too? And not a Viking as I always thought before I re-read.

Mind you the Regia Anglorum says that the term Viking covered several groups one of whom are the Anglo-Danes so ...

message 3: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments In a flashback in Gad's Hall, Mrs Thorley notes that the barn, in which the Christmas party was held, had once been the original Hall, with symbols of Thor on the roof beams. The property must have been in Thorley hands for many generations...

message 4: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Thor's hammer, for sure. That's the only one I remember with certainty.

message 5: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments Peggy, the concept of Valhalla is both Viking and Germanic. They shared a common mythology. The most obvious differences between the two groups is that the Vikings were much more comfortable as seafarers, and the Germans were Christianized earlier (also the languages --and there are more than two-- are a bit different, though they're all related); but they're basically just different branches of the same tree.

message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments I think NL manages the Viking/Gemanic/Angle stuff rather well in Wayside . Imagine what research that woman could have done with today's technology! Even with just the Regia Anglorum link above alone.

Wayside T is quite successfully ambitious in it's sweep I think, not only the Roman/Mithraic and the Viking/Danelaw etc chapters, but also the later Christian incursions and Cerdic and the miracles and , well, everything..

message 7: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 709 comments Re Angles and Vikings, it just occurred to me that of course NL would have known quite a bit about them! Ever hear of Sutton Hoo?

It's less than an hour's drive from Bury St.Edmunds.

message 8: by Barbara (last edited Nov 24, 2010 04:39PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Oh yes of course, Sutton Hoo. The Wiki entry is particualrly fascinating isnt it! And there is a bit in it that suggests the genesis of NL's travelling monk Fergus, or at least the idea of Augustines forbears

I find the dates and names a bit difficult in Wayside Tavern , at least at this period. NL details Cerdic and calls him a king and later gives him saintly and miraculous attributes as in the legendary/historic Cerdic , but gives his death date as 834, killed by "Danes" . Cerdic or maybe 'the Cerdics' would be a better description, are no where near these dates as far as I can see . Wonder if she just chose a likely name ,or really had Cerdic in mind but misplaced him date wise?
Or, and I 've just made this up so has no foundation that I know of, NL characterised Edmund ( of Bury St) as Cerdic. The dates more or less fit for him.

message 9: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 709 comments Barbara, I suspect that you're right in thinking the King Cerdic NL mentions was based on St. Edmund. This link gives some information about Edmund, whose feast day was last Saturday. The historical Cerdic lived not after the Roman withdrawal. Alfred Duggan wrote a rather amusing novel about him, Conscience of the King, which depicts him as an absolute scoundrel.

message 10: by Barbara (last edited Nov 24, 2010 10:26PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Well, yes, now I look at your Edmund link Mary, I see the wolf and the head and all, so it does make sense if you put the 'real' Cerdic out of mind and see it as a fictionalised Edmund ( Im quite pleased with myself for having thought of the Cerdic Edmund thing in fact , having never looked Ed. up before )
So thank you Mary ,that is all very pleasing and sets Wayside Tavern firmly in the Bury St Edmunds area too. I still haven't quite worked out where the settlement of Mala that became Mallow is - that is if NL actually pictured a physical place. Somewhere near Bosworth certainly,if she did.

message 11: by Barbara (last edited Nov 25, 2010 03:19PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Is that so Peggy, how very interesting , I don;t think I'd realised mound burial was so widespread. I must go and look -on paper and the net only I'm afraid, tho to see any and all of these in reality would be wonderful.

The King (Saint) Edmund persona that NL probably used for her Cerdic in Wayside Tavern has set me thinking again about the religious threads in this book, and the way in which Nl weaves the last traces of pre-Christian paganism and Roman soldier-beloved Mithraism into the story and then has Fergus, representing the introduction of Christianity to the area. And such an area too, I mean Bury St Edmunds and Sutton Hoo ( thanks Mary) and all the amazing cultural richness of East Anglia. And manages to do it all without a hint of pedantry, or 'letting the reseach show', as so many authors can do.

Werner, this is must-read for you ( yes I know you have a cast of thousands your TBR shelf, but this deserves putting to the head of the queue.

message 12: by Barbara (last edited Nov 26, 2010 09:44PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Hi Alice , glad your computer is functioning again. I have written to Sylvia but not heard back yet, I thinks he may be ill also, so may have to send snail mail.

I loved Paulus too, an archtypical good soldier, responsible for his men, careful yet brave , and, in the end, truly heroic. Nice to think his line survived .

You won't regret adding Wayside Werner!

message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Just reopened this thread to remind people, that Wayside Tavern is really fascinating , in case we want to do a group read on it . And I too have a spare copy.

message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments Well... I do have A Wayside Tavern on my to-read shelf (and have been told it's a must-read, so my curiosity's kindled!). If we do Hester Roon as a common read in July, we could do this one in August, and I'd be game to take part then (for the fall months, I already have definite or possible reading commitments lined up that will keep me busy at that time). I was hoping to spend that time reading in some of my huge physical TBR piles; but they're not going anywhere. :-)

message 15: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Looking good Werner - either or both of those books would be great.

message 16: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 937 comments Hester Roon in July and Wayside Tavern in August works for me!

message 17: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments Barbara wrote: "... and sets Wayside Tavern firmly in the Bury St Edmunds area too. I still haven't quite worked out where the settlement of Mala that became Mallow is - that is if NL actually pictured a physical place."

She obviously wanted to use Bury St Edmunds again, since that was both the place she knew best and the location of the 'real' One Bull; but she was wary of overlapping too much and creating conflicts with her existing stories if she used Baildon again, so just re-created B St Eds again as Mallow.

The difficulty I have with that is that both Baildon and Bury St Edmunds are also mentioned in AWT, (and she comments on the similarities between them) so you've effectively got the same important town three times in the same small county, all hosts to the bodies of Saxon kings martyred by the Danes!

It just doesn't make sense: NL should really have followed Hardy's example, where his fictional towns were instead of the real ones, not as well as.

message 18: by Sylvia (last edited Apr 08, 2014 02:20PM) (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Page 201 of my hb copy of AWT says that the One Bull was 4 miles from the sea. The few instances of people traveling from Baildon to Bury indicated a southerly direction. Since Bury is about 26 miles from Colchester, I estimate (though I don't know) that Bury is around 25 miles from the sea. So I believe NL was picturing 3 separate towns. Also, there were no rivers near Mallow so that they had to depend on wells. Baildon and Bury had the River Lark.

message 19: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments Yes, but three towns in most respects identical!

message 20: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments I love the naming of towns in TWT, Mala and Beofricsworth and the like. Of all her books, this is the one I find myself picturing the physical places most. I feel like I can see the One Bull , at least in it's original incarnation,. I do have more trouble when it semi-attached to the church.

BTW I did a Gilderson genealogy (of sorts) some time ago, anyone wanting a copy just let me know their email or ordinary address.

message 21: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments I may be handicapped here by the fact that I know Bury St Edmunds quite well, so my mental picture of all three places is identical.

message 22: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 709 comments When I went to this page just now, I saw some old posts first--ones discussing whether the invaders were Saxons or Vikings. Since the story begins almost immediately after the Roman withdrawal, they would almost have to be Saxons (or Angles or Jutes). According to traditional history, the ASJ invasions started not long after the withdrawal; and there's some evidence that there were actually some Saxons in Britain BEFORE then. The Viking raids didn't begin until the 8th century.

Now remember what I posted quite some time ago about NL's not caring much for the Welsh? Look at how she depicts the native Britons (the people from whom King Arthur sprang!) in AWT.

message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments This thread of posts motivated me to order AWT, which I eagerly look forward to reading. I'd like to participate in an August group read of it per Message 18. Thanks for the links that so many of you shared related to AWT eras and sites and characters. I've been checking them out and learning a lot.

message 24: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 937 comments Donna, you are in for a treat! I learned a lot by checking out the links on this thread too. I've read AWT and am looking forward to some good discussions in August.

message 25: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments Mary wrote: "...Now remember what I posted quite some time ago about NL's not caring much for the Welsh? Look at how she depicts the native Britons (the people from whom King Arthur sprang!) in AWT. "

I don't think we can necessarily identify the Iceni with the Welsh here: the tendency among Norfolk people (such as NL and myself) is to think of them as our people - 'Ancient Norfolk' if you like. We certainly think of Boudicca* as one of our own! I can't guarantee that's how NL felt personally, of course, but that's the cultural assumption in modern East Anglia.

(*Queen of the Iceni some centuries before AWT opens, who seriously put the wind up the Romans)

message 26: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 709 comments Well, Jenny, the Iceni were certainly Britons, but they could very well have been absorbed by the Angles, so that today's East Anglians would be descended from both. It may be only on the basis of linguistic evidence that historians have concluded that the Britons all fled either west into what's now Wales or across the channel to what became Brittany.

Boudicca? Yessss! Do you know Pauline Gedge's The Eagle and the Raven? Or Henry Treece's Red Queen, White Queen? I think it's in the first that as, a child, she meets Caractacus, and I've wondered ever since what would have happened if those two had made a match. We might be speaking something P-Celtic today!

message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments This month, for our common read of this novel, we've decided to continue to make use of this thread, to have the benefit of the helpful historical and geographical information, and links, that can already be found here. And many thanks to all those who helped to assemble this information!

Published in 1980, the year NL turned 76 (and just three years before her death), A Wayside Tavern is one of her latest novels, a product of the full flowering of her mature craftsmanship. Like so many of her works, it's set in her beloved Suffolk; her attachment to a place in her fiction, and to interweaving characters and settings, has been compared to Hardy and Faulkner. Her plot structure here is one she used before, notably in Bless This House and the novels of the House trilogy: a mult-generational tracing of various generations of inhabitants of one building, across centuries of English history. (This sort of generations-spanning structure also appears in most of the works of James Michener, and in the Plantation Trilogy by Gwendolyn Bristow, American historical novelists roughly contemporary with NL.)

Some questions were raised in the comments above about the identity of Beofric's people, who figure in the early chapters here. They're definitely identified in the book as Angles from Friesland, one of the three Germanic tribes (the others are the Saxons and the Jutes) who would form the population of Anglo-Saxon England. NL identifies their warriors at times here as "the Horned Men," an apparent reference to the popular modern conception of Germanic and Viking fighters as wearing helmets decorated with bull's horns sticking out from the sides. Actually, while Germanic and Viking priests may have worn headgear resembling this, it wasn't commonly worn by warriors, if it was at all; the idea that it was comes from the costume designs (based on some 19th-century artist's conceptions of Vikings) created by Carl Emil Doepler in the 1870s for the very popular productions of Richard Wagner's operas. (See .) But that wasn't very widely known in 1980, when NL was writing the book.

Some areas we might want to consider in future posts are whether or not you're liking the book, and why; what similarities you see here to other novels by NL; what aspects of the book you think are particularly well-done (or not); or what themes and messages you feel you see here. But any and all comments, questions and/or background material will be welcome! If you write anything that might be a spoiler for those who aren't as far into the book as you are, please remember to use the hypertext "spoiler tags." (If you need instructions for these, click on the "some html is okay" link just above the comment box where you're typing your comment!)

message 28: by Sallie (last edited Aug 10, 2014 10:23AM) (new)

Sallie | 315 comments Did anyone else note a cynical/skeptical tone concerning God/religion/higher power in this book? I always admired NL's vast knowledge of things biblical - she must have been a good student in Sunday School! I did not find this attitude to necessarily come from thoughts of her characters but almost as an aside in the middle of a scene. Oh, right, God can be counted on to "save" the situation - a sarcastic tone that seemed personal. Maybe a reflection of her age? I love the theme, as Werner noted, of interweaving the histories of families/generations with the fate of the house and the "haunted" references. Spirits of inhabitants never leave the house. Just like we leave our dustballs behind to intermingle with those who lived there before when we move! The generations always "made do with what they had" without knowing this family 'motto' went back centuries. Family trait carried forward?

message 29: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 937 comments Sallie, that's an interesting point; I'll try to be aware of the tone as I proceed. I don't see it at the start. The first chapter being set in 683 AD, Christianity is still new and growing. Paulus, for example, is a follower of Mithras.

As a sidenote, one theme I enjoy in this book is the explanation of how/why areas were named and how those names were transformed over time. Mala becomes Mallow, Beofricsworth becomes Bosworth, Other River becomes Triver and so on.

message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments Sallie wrote: "...almost as a side in the middle of a scene." Sallie, where in the book is the scene that you're referring to? (I'm only into Chapter 6, so far.)

message 31: by Sallie (last edited Aug 12, 2014 07:01AM) (new)

Sallie | 315 comments Werner, I don't know that there was a specific scene. It seemed to me to just be a general, overall 'hint' of this feeling. Pg 85 - "It was all too clear that nobody in the rural isolated area which the church at Mallow served had been inspired to buy his way into heaven by endowing the place & the six monks." Pg 179 - The young tutor had learned the ineffectuality of prayer, years and years of it, praying that his leg would grow. There had been faith once, the certainty that when he woke he would be as other boys. Then doubt. Then disillusion souring into scepticism and a growing self-engrossment and belief in his talent Many things he could not do; one thing he could." Don't count on any God, do it yourself.
These might not be good examples - it just seemed to me that, over the generations of people/characters, throughout the book there were always references to the disappointment of pleading to a deity. I can't think of one of her novels that didn't have at least one character begging and pleading and making bargains and promises if only God would no avail. Wondered if this had been the case in her own life? Just a personal ponder about NL.

message 32: by Linda (new)

Linda Martinez (baldwidow) | 12 comments I have the book pictured: terrible cover picture, I guess they were trying to sell it as a romance novel.

We listened to the book last month on audio. I noticed it was third person narrative, not first person as so many Lofts novels are.

I always had trouble visualizing the layout of The One Bull Tavern. any ideas?

message 33: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments Well, it changes so much over the centuries, it's hard to keep up!
Here's where the 'real' OB is in Bury St Eds, backing on to the abbey grounds: Google Map; and here's the Street View image showing it as it is today.

message 34: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments Jenny, thanks for those links. It's cool to realize that NL actually based her fictional One Bull on a real place! That's an inn that I'd find fascinating to visit (I'm sure everybody else in the group would too!).

message 35: by Barbara (last edited Aug 12, 2014 07:22PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Well how disappointing the real One Bull is from the street .Thank you for Google link Jenny , otherwise it shows no hint at all of it having originally Roman connections , or even of being attached to any religious building large or small , or even having the space to be so . ....but when you see it from above, yes!

message 36: by Barbara (last edited Aug 12, 2014 07:47PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Sallie said earlier that she detected a tone of cynicism re religion in Wayside Tavern. I think NL does show a degree of cynicism toward organised churches and especially ecclesiastical hierarchy, but not at all to actual faith and the practice thereof 'on the ground' as we might say now.

Paulus ( who I just love , I do wish we could have had more of him in his prime, maybe even before he got to Mala and certainly I'd liked him and Gilda to have had more time together freely . But there you go , that's NL, always leaving you wanting more ) Anyway, Paulus, though not a spiritually advanced man is true to his Mithraic faith, and dies in it . The Angles too, give him a religious send off according to their beliefs, "they roared and called on the gods to bless him and take him , Roman though he was, straight to Valhalla"

And Gilda, though utterly pragmatic, is a woman of faith in her own way .I do admire the way in which NL makes her transition and managing by her and the Christian monk Fergus more or less a microcosm of what must have been happening all over Britain in that era, the intermingling and clashing of old and new faiths and the utilising of pagan celebration times to mesh with Christian beliefs etc

The Cerdic monks put me in mind of the poor and forgotten nuns in The House Trilogy, and even the tiny foundation in the woods who hide Madselin in the book of the same name . Desperately poor and completely overlooked by the Church upper echelons, but keeping the faith just the same .

message 37: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments I don't think there's any evidence that the 'real OB' had Roman connections - though it would be fascinating to find out, I must say. The present-day pub's website says nothing about its history.

message 38: by Robert (new)

Robert | 100 comments Jenny wrote: "Well, it changes so much over the centuries, it's hard to keep up!
Here's where the 'real' OB is in Bury St Eds, backing on to the abbey grounds: Google Map; and here's the Street View image showi..."

Wish I had known there was a 'real' One Bull, I would have visited it last year when I was in Bury St. Edmunds.

message 39: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments Oh, what a pity - I knew you were going, too!

message 40: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Any more thoughts on the religious aspects anybody?

message 41: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments I'm not sure if this counts as 'religion', but the effects of standing on Cerdic's grave seem strangely ambivalent, don't they? 'Something' tends to happen, but whether for good or ill is never very reliable.

message 42: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 937 comments Jenny wrote: "I'm not sure if this counts as 'religion', but the effects of standing on Cerdic's grave seem strangely ambivalent, don't they? 'Something' tends to happen, but whether for good or ill is never ver..."

Jenny, that is a vital point--something to watch out for throughout the book.

message 43: by Robert (new)

Robert | 100 comments I won't be able to contribute much to this discussion. I read the book many years ago, and thought I had a copy. If I do, it is packed in a box somewhere.

message 44: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments Barbara wrote: "Any more thoughts on the religious aspects anybody?" Barbara, my impressions are closer to yours than to Sallie's so far; but I'd like to wait until I've read the whole novel before I draw conclusions and comment about that.

Did anyone else pick up on the fact that in Chapter 4, when we read about his attack of croup, Gilda's youngest son is named Sweyn, after his father; but a couple of pages later, his name changes to Eric and remains so for the rest of that section of the book? That's a shortcoming of the editorial process, not of NL's craftsmanship; it's the kind of mistake that's easy for a writer to make, but which the editors should have caught.

We're told in Chapter 7 that Anna's grandfather had claimed that (view spoiler) Am I the only one who suspects that (view spoiler).

message 45: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 472 comments No, I never noticed about Sweyn/Eric!

But as for the ancestor, I never doubted it - I assumed it was stated in the text, though come to think of it I don't know where!

message 46: by Werner (new)

Werner | 708 comments No, Jenny, it's never stated in the text of Chapter 6! I think NL deliberately chose to leave that to our imagination. :-)

message 47: by Barbara (last edited Aug 15, 2014 06:31PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Yes I noticed the very rare mistake of Eric/Sweyn when I was doing the genealogy , I mentioned it in there , but kind of guiltily because she made so very few errors.. but do you know , I don't think I ever thought about Ingwar question before , and I have read it several times . Goodness.

message 48: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments I really like the Cerdic's Grave Effect - though I too don't know whether would call it religion in the conventional sense ( esp with some of the later manifestations of it)

message 49: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 315 comments Barbara said it so much better than I did! A cynical tone about "organized" religion was what I noticed. I think that NL was personally a very spiritual individual. I feel she had a vast knowledge of things biblical and of ancient faiths.
Jenny - thanks for the links to Bury! Think I'll try to find NL's house. She cas close to the center of town.

message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2233 comments Well thank you Sallie. You do know the Religion and Belief thread in this group ? Very interesting

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