It’s not often I burst into poetry to praise the glories of the tavem
in the town. However, my motto is “Try anything once”.
The lines, which have a direct connection with The Three Tuns,
are by W. A. G. Kemp. They were written on the publication of
Sir Sidney Lee’s Life qf Shakespeare. In this standard work, the
author wrote that the Bard probably walked from Stratford to
London in the early summer of 1586.
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Here are the lines:
I wish this clattering street would change, and be
Just as it looked in ﬁfteen eighty six,
One night in summer-time”-when I could see
The travellers in the many inns, and mix
With men from Oxford, Stratford and the west.
I wish I had been at the Chequers Inn
When wearily Will Shakespeare came for a rest-
(The King’s Arms, or Three Tuns, it may have been).
I wish I had been one to whom he spoke
Because he had no money that would buy
His board-“-only some poems in his poke,
He should be welcomed home to feast, and lie
One night in Uxbridge in my richest bed,
To rest on pillow soft his kingly head.
How one would like to have all the details of that walk”where
he ate and drank and on what pillow he rested his head. As we know
almost nothing about Shakespeare’s life, we can only hazard a
When I arrived in Uxbridge I rather naturally looked for the
River Uxe-with-the-Bridge. But I looked in vain. There is no
such river. I was so puzzled that I made some inquiries on the
There are, in fact, two rivers the Colne and the Frays. With
a name like Frays, you would think that one would hear more
about it. It conjures up a stream, leaping merrily, even aggressively,
over stones and rocks. Such is the power of a name.
Uxbridge, as a name, seems like so much of the English scene
just to have happened. The town was probably founded about
the time of the great king who had. trouble with his cakes”Alfred.
It became, in course of time, a burgh, or fortiﬁed site, surrounded
by a ditch”-the whole area comprising about eighty-ﬁve acres.
Well, take a look at Uxbridge today!
The origin of the name is Saxon, and, through successive
generations and ages, has passed from Waxbridge, Woxbridge,
Oxebridge, and so to its present name.
Although The Three Tuns has been rebuilt, it still has that
lovely old-world atmosphere about it. It’s what I might call (if
I may) “be-beamed”; one wonders when one looks at the beams
how they ever keep the rest of the house up. The simple answer
probably is that the builders and carpenters of those days were
craftsmen. Other worlds, other ways.
Rickey -The Cocker Spaniel
There but remains, before introducing our hero, to explain
what a tun is. It is, of course, a barrel, or cask.
Rickey, as you can see for yourself, is a nice-looking cocker
spaniel. He came originally from Trent Park, where there were
acres and acres of pleasant ground wherein he could roam and
jump about to his heart’s content.
If he had heard of the eighty-ﬁve acres of Uxbridge he wouldn’t
have been so happy!
Acres, in fact, mean little to Rickey who is
quite content”and indeed happy to sit in the middle of the road
in this busy market town and hold up the traiﬁc in the process.
He has caused such a what-have-you in the congested streets
of Uxbridge on more than one occasion that it is part of the duty
of the arm of the law to see that he doesn’t hold traffic too much.
The law sees to the safety of Rickey, too.
Sooner or later, Rickey does condescend to return to his home,
where he is the cynosure of neighbouring eyes; and I wouldn’t be
a bit surprised to learn that this lively spaniel knows that.
But at least he doesn’t trade on the fact.