The Romans used to advertise drinking taverns by growing it on a pole outside the inn - later called an alepole
. In the Middle Ages doctors made strange claims about its medicinal properties but it was the Victorians who recognised the ornamental value of this easy-to-grow plant.
Reformer John Frith argued that "an alepole
is not the ale self which it doth signifie or represent," and a person who seeks salvation in outward signs might just as well "goe and sucke an alepole
, trusting to get drinke out of it" (341).