"'Tis a True, an Honorable and an Ancient Order, - The Order of the Inn, - immemorially cherished and nurtured in all the Ages of Mankind."
So goes the story: many years ago, while my father worked at a brewery, he came across a peculiar copper shield, some three feet high by two feet across, accompanied by a booklet that had aged to a dark brown color, all set in a large display case. Asking the brew-master from whence it had come, the only answer was a solemn "the Old World." My father admired this item as long as he worked there. As things go in this world, the brewery was purchased by a larger commercial brand that soon shut it down and moved the bulk of its brewing equipment out west. The remainder of the brewery's content - including this peculiar copper shield - was designated for disposal in any way the management saw fit. In an act of supreme charity, the brew-master, seeing my fathers perpetual interest in this artifact, gave it to him gratis along with some other breweriana (but that is a topic for another time)!
That copper shield can be seen as the header image for this article, as well as at the upper right of this blog.
As for the aged documentation that went along with it, you can see scans of them here (pdf file): Order of the Inn
The documentation, dated "1659 (Middle Temple Gate, Fleet Street)" is a rule book of sorts for a gentlemen's club where four degrees of membership (gold, silver, bronze and copper) can come together to shut out the cruel, dark world by enjoying the company of others (with a helping of good food and drink, of course!).