Alewives: A Historical Perspective.
The photo seen here (below) is a photo (taken by ourselves) of an actual photograph taken from the current public display on the Doom Painting at the back of Holy Trinity Church. Note the shape of the headdress which pinpointed the dating of the painting.
The alewives are considered to be a unique feature on the Coventry Doom painting, pinpointing as they do, the date of this painting. An earthquake around about this time may have even triggered the painting of this doom believing as they probably did at the time, that the end of the world was truly nigh!
In a reference to the alewives Alan Wright, Holy Trinity
Church's architect, in his article published in the Church Times on Friday 16
January 2003, states that:
It is difficult today to believe that, in medieval times (from 1400 onwards and even up to the 1800's), women were mainly responsible for brewing beer ........... and NOT their male fraternity. As this was considered to be part of their other daily household tasks we can safely presume that the activity was considered neither exceptional nor unusual. Even in Europe brewing beer was designated a woman's job believe it or not. During the 1700's the majority (78% as reported on www.brewingtechniques.com) of licensed brewers were women but the industrial revolution saw a decline as men took ovethe r and brewing transferred from the home to the market place.
Churches (we have no idea if Holy Trinity did however!) also used to run many breweries (selling the ale for profit, "ale" also denoting "festival") during the 14th century and these two facts make the presence, in our personal opinion, of these alewives (identifiable by their head apparel) on the Doom Painting, perfectly understandable and recognisable to Holy Trinity medieval congregations. Indeed, we wonder what immense effect these Doom Painting images must have had upon the many women who attended the church on a week by week basis.
Did you know that..................the word
"bridal" actually comes from the word "bride-ale" to
describe the wedding feast!!!
Some of the above information has been taken from the following sources (follow them for more detailed information) :
Please note: Do NOT rely on the accuracy of the above information as we are not medieval historical experts. For research purposes please verify the above information with other third party authoritative sources.
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PLEASE NOTE: These are historic pages of Holy Trinity Church and the church interior may have changed since our photographs were taken as they do not post date 2005.