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Highways and Byways in Surrey
written by "Thomson, Hugh, 1860-1920"
...l her journey more fascinating than where she divides her stream under Leatherhead, and comes dancing down by separate channels to her broad sheet of ripples at the bridge. Beyond the bridge on the left, is the site of a very famous old inn. The present inn, the Running Horse, has been partly rebuilt, and has few external attractions, but the mistress of the old inn, four hundred years ago, was the subject of an ode written by the Poet Laureate. She was Elinour Rumming, ale-wife of a cabaret at "Lederhede in Sothray," and John Skelton, perhaps to amuse Henry VIII, and perhaps to please himself, wrote one of his pungent, tumbling romps of doggerel about her. "The Tunning of Elinour Rumming, per Skelton Laureate," as one of the old editions prints it, is an interminable piece of rhyme, mostly an orgy of coarseness, but with a certain rude vigour of humour and live truth. Here are a score of lines out of some hundreds:— The Tunnyng of Elinour Rumming, Per Skelton Laureate. "Tell you I chill If that ye wyll A while be still Of a comelye gyll That dwelt on a hyll But she is not gryll For she is somewhat sage And well worne in age For her visage It would asswage A mannes courage. And this comely dame I understande her name Is Elinoure Rumminge At home in her wonnyng And as men say She dwelt in Sothray In a certain stede By syde Lederhede She is a tonnish gyb The deuell and she be sib But to take up my tale She breweth noppy ale [Pg 284] And maketh thereof poorte sale To travellers, to tinkers To sweters, to swinkers And all good ale drynkers That will nothinge spare But dryncke till they stare And bringe them selfe bare With now away the mare And let us sley care As wise as an hare." The legend is that Skelton was a fisherman, and used to come over from Nonsuch Palace by Epsom to fish in the Mole. Perhaps he did, and drank Elinour's "noppy ale"; in any case, a portrait of the Leatherhead ale-wife foun...

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