Pop Culture

The Mermaid Tavern in Elizabethan England

Location of the Mermaid Tavern in Elizabethan England

In the 15th century, there was a famous tavern that was referred as the “Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen” in Elizabethan, England. The drinking club, met the first Friday of every month and it’s members included the top literary figures of it’s day, including William Shakespeare, Thomas Coryat, Ben Jonson, John Donne, etc.

The Mermaid Tavern, was located east of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the corner of Bread Street. The landlord of the Mermaid Tavern was William Johnson.

The Mermaid Tavern was destroyed during the Great London Fire in 1666.



Myths and Legends

What is a Selkie?

Statue of the Selkie or the Seal Wife in Kalsoy, Faroe Island

In Ireland, Scotland, and England, there are mythical creatures called the Selkies. The Selkies or Seal Wives would have a seal-like skin in the water and would shed their seal-skin, whenever they surface on land. The word Selch in Scottish means seal.

The Selkies, like mermaids, had the ability to breathe underwater. For a Selkie, the sea was their one true home.

According to Welch legend, a Selkie was born on land, but chose to live in the sea. A female Selkie was revered for her stunning voice and alluring beauty.

A Selkie could only stay on land, for a short duration of time. They could only have a relationship with one human at a time and if they were to marry a human, they would have to keep their Selkie identity a secret. The reason, why they would have to keep their Selkie identity a secret, would be the fear that their magic pelts would be stolen from them and could no longer return to the sea.

Statue of the Selkie or the Seal Wife in Kalsoy, Faroe Island

Unlike some cultures, that believed that the mermaid was a sign of bad luck; the Welch, Irish, and Scottish, believed a Selkie was a sign of good luck. For fishermen, a Selkie was said to have brought them a bountiful catch.

A Scottish clan, named the Macdorum is believed to be descendants of the Selkies. The family has been said to be seals during the day and shape-shift into humans in the evening.