Monday, January 29, 2018

The Green Man Inn, Putney Heath

Monday, January 29, 2018

Loretta reports,

The Green Man Inn at the northern end of Putney Heath features in a crucial scene of A Duke in Shining Armor. Like many of the places I use in my books, it did exist. Like not quite so many, it still exists, and so of course I was thrilled to actually pay a visit there during my stay in London last summer.

Many of the old travel books online emphasize the inn’s importance as a resort of highwaymen. However, I’ve focused on its use as a place for bolstering one’s courage before a duel and—for the survivors, a place to calm the nerves with a brandy and soda (as is recommended by my favorite book on dueling, The Art of Dueling).

Duels took place nearby in Putney Heath at dawn or (less usually) dusk. Duelists chose out-of-the way places, like Putney Heath or Battersea Fields because they were reasonably close to London, yet far enough away to reduce chances of the authorities blundering in and spoiling the fun of men trying to kill each other. Duels, though they remained a popular way for gentlemen to settle disputes, were against the law.

Doubtless the landscape has changed over the last century and a half—fewer trees then, for instance, in many places than there are today. Still, given the heath’s reputation as a favorite spot for highwaymen, I suspected it was as easy to find a suitable place, not far from the road yet not visible from it, as it was during our visit. A short walk took us to what looked like an ideal spot: A good sized clearing where the ground was level, offering both combatants a clear sight. Yet the road wasn’t far away, and it was easy to imagine the carriages standing by, ready to take the duelists, alive, wounded, or dead, away.

The Green Man photograph © 2018 Walter M. Henritze
Green Man, Putney from Charles G. Harper's The Old Inns of Old England : a picturesque account of the ancient and storied hostelries of our own country 1906
Cruikshank, The Point of Honor decided, or the Leaden argument of a Love affaire, from The English Spy, 1825

Please click on images to enlarge.


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