Tankard reveals East Enders have history as binge-drinkers

PUBLISHED: 15:26 17 September 2012

Rare find-the three-pint Tudor tankard

Rare find-the three-pint Tudor tankard


Proof that binge-drinking East Enders have existed for at least 500 years has been unearthed after the discovery of a buried Tudor tankard set to go on display from Thursday for 10 days at the recently re-opened Museum of London Docklands.

The execeptionally well-preserved drinking vessel, made of wood, is comparable to a modern beer mug, however this holds three pints of ale.

Dating from the 16th century it is one of a kind, It was dug up on the foreshore of the River Thames near Ratcliff Wharf on the Isle of Dogs by an amateur archaeologist or “mudlark.”

The museum, has been shut during the summer as the HQ of the German national Olympic committee.

= It re-opened on Monday with a £500,000 upgrade including wi-fi access and improved facilities paid for by the Germans.

To mark its re-opening the public are being given a chance to view the tankard

Historians are uncertain whether it was used to carry beer from the barrel to the table or, was a personal beer. The lack of a spout seems to discount the decanter theory.

“The only other contemporary items similar in appearance come from Henry VIII’s warship, Mary Rose, although it’s examples carry 8 pints,” said a spokeswoman for the Muesum of London Docklands..

“Ship building would have been well-established in the Ratcliff area around the 16th century. A link between these drinking vessels and ships is clearly emerging. Perhaps these containers were designed to guarantee minimal spillage on rocky boats,” she added.

On the base of the tankard the initials RH are inscribed. It is not known whether these are the initials of the owner, the maker or perhaps even the ship.

The preservation of this object is astonishing and was made possible by it having lain buried in the muddy depths of the Thames.

So that it remains in good condition the tankard has been stored in the Museum’s freezer and will be displayed immersed in water.

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