St Mary's Church, Beverley

making disciples

Boss of the week

A selection of blogs from our Instagram page, written by Dr Jennie England, exploring the meaning of the bosses.

Ale Wife

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#Bossoftheweek ⁣ ⁣ Set high up in the nave of St Mary’s is the carving of an ‘Ale Wife’, the medieval term used for women who brewed ale for sale. The original brewing profession (all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia) was principally performed by women. Female domination of this profession was likely because brewing could be done at home and maintained alongside women’s traditional roles as wives and mothers.⁣ ⁣ In the 1500s, around the time this boss was carved, hopped beer began supplanting ale as the popular drink in England. Beer had previously only been popular in the Netherlands and Belgium, but it gained popularity because it lasted longer and was easier to transport. With the growing professionalisation of the beer trade, the female-centric ale trade in England began to decline. ⁣ ⁣ Ale Wives were also a figure of popular comical condemnation in the medieval period, and were depicted in art and poetry as sinful, seductive, and often repulsive figures. This may explain the rather garish nature of St Mary’s Ale Wife – her large lips and eyes make her a grotesque figure. ⁣ 🍺⁣ This weekend, St Mary’s is hosting the Beverley Beer and Cider Festival. Specially for the festival, Great Newsome Brewery has kindly renamed one of their ales the ‘Ale Wife’. You’ll also find the Ale Wife on our fabulous festival coasters.⁣ 🍺⁣ The Festival’s schedule is ⁣ 4th Oct: 1pm-6pm; 6:30-11pm⁣ 5th Oct: Noon-11pm⁣ ⁣ #alewife #ale #wife ⁣#stmarysbeverley #church #churchofengland #heritage #medieval #tudor #roofbosses #bossoftheweek #curiouscarvings #gothic #architecture #beverley

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