Along the Road:
For much of the time the Drovers would sleep "rough" in the countryside,, for they did'nt change their clothes. When close to a town or wayside inn, the Master drover would take a room for the night, whilst the men and dogs guarded the cattle. Food would have been taken during the day, on the move. Bread, cheese, oatcakes and beer were the staple diet; they no doubt carried their traditional bakestone with them to cook their own oatcakes. Droving was thirsty work and heavy drinking was commonplace. Not only did they have to contend with the daytime heat in their "leathers", but the dust from the roads in dry periods was immense. Huge clouds of dust would follow the herd; the main roads had a separate summer and winter track for wheeled vehicles in the 1700's. So they frequented the tap room of the inn for beer or rum, and may well have called for a pipe of tobacco. They could still drive a herd of cattle "under the influence" and would soon work off a hang-over, since they often moved their cattle at day-break. Brandy-shops were commonplace in the 1700's. In 1811, a David Roberts accused a Sarah Bailey and Thomas Moore at the Old Bailey of theft of his money. "I am a Welsh drover. On the 7th December about four o'clock I was in Smithfield. I had been drinking all day. I met a man in the street; he said you are a Welshman" Question "Did you see your pocket-book before you went to that public house?" Answer " I put the notes in my pocket-book at Romford". Question "Did you see the pocket-book while you were in the public house?" Answer "Yes I was tipsey; I went to sleep and when I awoke I found the pocket-book empty on the table, and the prisoners had all left the house". Verdict; guilty. Punishment; transportation for seven years.

Few of the original inns survive today, and many have been "converted", like the "Drovers House" near Stockbridge in Hampshire, which has a Welsh inscription painted on the wall; "seasoned hay, tasty pastures, good beer, comfortable beds.
The 'Drovers' house, in Stockbridge HamphshireThe Welsh Harp, Waltham Abbey, Essex, circa 1895The Welsh Harp inn at Waltham Cross in Essex, is an existing example. The main route from Middlesex and Hertfordshire into Essex crossed the river Lea, at this point.
The Harp inn on the main north road (A5) near Kingsbury, Middlesex, TQ224874 is shown on the 1824 ordnance survey map. The Welsh drovers used the nearby grazing for their cattle, before proceeding to Hampstead Heath and Smithfield Market. By 1837 the inn was called the Welsh Harp, and by 1875 it was called the Upper Welsh Harp, since another establishment had been set up nearby. The 'Harp' on the A5 Watling Street, Middlesex in 1791, (TQ224874), with the Welsh Drovers trade-mark - the Scots pine tree. Courtesy of Brent Council.

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