Monday, September 1, 2014

The Blue Pig Post in the Blue Pig Inn

Back in 2005, Bob and I stumbled upon this little lane in the historic district of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. We were parking our car when I spotted the sign. I yelled out "BLUE PIG!" I couldn't believe my eyes or our luck. We didn't know what type a place it was until we walked down to take a picture of Bob under the sign. It was a pub and restaurant -- more luck. We knew right away this was the perfect place to have a lunch, a "pint," and write a postcard. We were in town with a Canadian friend of ours who was to catch a train to Manchester for his flight home the following day. We had time for a light lunch before parting ways.

The little winding street is Vine St. which will end at Swinegate. The Blue Pig Inn is on the corner. It is a very old building which has been considered one of four remaining Tudor buildings in Grantham.

Once in the establishment, we found a table three steps up a little beyond the pub area. Perfect spot to sit and talk and not be bothered by the pub patrons. Looking around, there were every imaginable pig items EVERYWHERE! ... on the walls, on the shelves, in glass-front corner cupboards, and down the stairs in the restrooms! Everywhere!

For this year's trip, it was the perfect place for us to meet with our Porteous friends from Aylsham, Norfolk before the four of us toured the Belton House; email doesn't accomplish all we had to catch up on. What better place to have breakfast, too! Upon entering the dining area, walking to our old spot three steps up, we were a little disappointed. There used to be so many pig items all over, but not anymore. We inquired about the emptiness of the shelves and walls. We were told the business has changed hands. The previous owners had taken most of the pigs with them as well as the furniture. Oh well, at least the food was still good and plentiful and the conversation was great.

It was a perfect place for another reason, too. Besides it being the Blue Pig Inn, Bob was carrying his "Blue Pig Post" portable post office. He wanted to write out a couple postcards using our special commemorative stamps.

Bob's Blue Pig Post portable post office along with the Blue Pig's menu. Bob writes out a postcard to our kitties back home. There is a strip of Blue Pig commemorative stamps next to his hand. As Bob and I travel, we seem to always add to a vast collection of pig things like nick-knacks –- large and small, creamers & sugar bowls, ornaments, statues, etc., but this time we came home with six menus given to us by the chef along with lovely memories of hospitality and good food.
For each of our special trips, I create a stamp to commemorate that trip. I know it sounds crazy, but it's fun and adds to Bob's non-stamp cinderella collection. I also create a Christmas stamp. These stamps are never used as postage -- that would be illegal -- Bob always uses the correct rate for US postage per postcard. There are other collectors of the "local post" or "cinderella stamp" which is defined on Wikipedia as "virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration." One time our stamps were featured in a Local Post club's newsletter.
Our trip this year was for close to a month starting out with a week in Berlin, Germany, a week in Venice, Italy which included Bob's International Ernest Hemingway Society's conference. Then since we were flying west to go home, we decided to stop off in Lincolnshire, England for the last 10 days.
For many years, even before I met Bob, everyone called him the "Blue Pig" because when he was selling stamps in the Chicago area, his business was called the Blue Pig Stamp Co.; he even had a big plastic blue piggy bank sitting on the sales table. 

This half-timbered building sits appropriately on the corner of Swinegate and Vine St. It is 16th century in origin. According to an entry on Wikipedia for Grantham, the "Blue Pig, one of many blue pubs, is situated on Vine Street, near the Church of St. Wulfram. The building is one of probably only four remaining Tudor buildings in the town and is a survivor of the disastrous fires of the 1660s. It was first mentioned as an inn in a trade directory of 1846, when the landlord was one Richard Summersby. The property was then owned by the Manners family (giving the derivation of Blue in the name)." Some famous people may have frequented this inn during their time, e.g., Thomas Paine -- yes, our Revolutionary War times author of Common Sense; Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady"; and Sir Isaac Newton, the gravity guy -- just to name a few. I have no proof they did, but if the building was around since the 1500s ...well, it is possible.

What a wonderful find in more ways than one!

The Blue Pig Inn is a Grade II listed building. It got that status on 20 Apr 1972. It is described on the British Listed Buildings site as: "One building, shop and inn. Probably C16; 2-storey, coursed stone rubble to ground floor, exposed timber framing 1st floor, which projects on ends of joists and is gabled on front to Swinegate. Shop window to No. 8 and 2 later dormers. Pantile roof."

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