The term "Ale Wife" comes from the fact
that it was women who did the brewing back then. It was
considered part of their household chores along with
cooking, cleaning and having babies. The word "Brewster"
actually means a woman brewer as appose to the the word
"Brewer" which is used for a man who brews. Back in
medieval England women brewed and sold most of the ale,
so it was that the houses where the women brewed the
beer became the first ever public houses. After 1350,
men slowly took over the trade and by 1600, most brewers
in London as well as in many towns and villages were
male, not female.
In 1818 The Swan was bought by Thomas Bokenham who also built a grand house, which stands to this day, next door to the Swan for his family. However, he sold the brewhouse to the local maltster William Crisp and it was under Crisp that the Sole Bay Brewery became famous. 1872 saw the arrival into town of George and Ernest Adnams from Berkshire who bought the Sole Bay Brewery with the help of their father.
It was Ernest who then further built
up the business as his brother George decided to go to
Africa where he was unfortunately eaten by a crocodile.
Adnams continues to this day and there is a legend that
the washbasins in Southwold all have three taps, hot,
cold and Adnams.