Public houses and taverns played an integral role in the commercial life of the American Colonies. They weren’t simply places to drink. They were a place to meet like-minded individuals, meeting places at which to conduct business, and clearinghouses for news about both local and global events. The local tavern quite likely was the test bed for revolutionary ideas like independence.
All along the newly cut roads and canals, and literally anywhere people had to rest while moving from one location to another in the colonies, taverns sprang up. These taverns quickly became central locations for several aspects of colonial life. In taverns people drank and read the news of the day aloud to their fellow travelers. Also, in an era when mass production of books and newspapers was limited and other forms of public entertainment were quite rare, people would gather in taverns to share a story, sing, and debate ideas of the time.
It was in Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern that the Sons of Liberty discussed, then planned the Boston Tea Party, and in Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern US Marine Corps recruited its first enlistees. Tradition has it that the delegates of both the first and second Continental Congress conducted a large part of their negotiations and planning in the City Tavern. Taverns are, as Noah Webster would remark, the “birthplace of the American Revolution.” With the long and storied history of taverns before us, several of us true revolutionaries are establishing a tavern for the Frost Faire at Pottsgrove Manor on December 12, 2020.
During the 18th Century, we endured what has become known as a Mini Ice Age. In London, it was not uncommon for the River Thames to freeze over for up to two months at time. Londoners would use this as an opportunity to recoup the lost commerce when the river become unnavigable and would set up the Thames Frost Fairs. Between 1607 and 1814 there were a total of seven major Frost Fairs, as well as countless smaller ones. In 2020, the confluence of politics and coronavirus have made our indoor spaces uninhabitable, we are planning a Frost Fair in Pottsgrove.
London Frost Fairs were quite a spectacle, full of hastily constructed shops, pubs, ice skating rinks… everything that you would expect in the crowded streets of London but on ice! We are endeavoring to bring you that feel at Pottsgrove Manor. Hopefully, it won’t be cold enough for the river to freeze but worry not, the grounds around John Potts’ home are quite solid. We will have sutlers and demonstrations, and a TAVERN complete with the brewery, bar, games, singing and toasts — lots of toasts.
Even kings and queens would join the London Frost Fairs so please come. We promise to offer you the same hospitality shown to the King.