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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pub Names!


Here are some of my favourite British pub names that celebrate the more lawless elements of our society!

The Wicked Lady - A pub in No Man's Land, Hertfordshire. named in honour of Lady Kathleen Ferrers, 1634 - 59, who became a highwaywoman at the age of 18. She was shot dead seven years later as she attempted to rob customers leaving the Park Inn. Her story was made into a film in 1945 starring Margaret Lockwood. Dick Turpin also has pubs named after him. Of similar ilk is The Highwayman in Liskeard, Cornwall, named for James Elliott, who was convicted for highway robbery in 1787 and hanged at Bodmin.

The Poacher - There are poachers' inns and poachers' pockets across the country. One sign for the latter shows a man with particularly capacious pockets from which a brace of pheasant are falling.

The Smugglers - A pub in Anstruther, Fife, which was the favourite watering hole of the men who supplied contraband to the Earl of Strathmore. A passage from the inn led directly to their hideout. Smugglers' inns are found in the West Country and across the south coast, including the Smugglers Haunt in Dorset and the Smugglers Roost in Sussex.

The Wreckers - another Cornish speciality, named after those who lit false signals to deliberately lure ships onto the rocks and steal the cargo.

And some of the more obscure:


I Am The Only Running Footman - A pub in London. The running footman was the servant who ran ahead of a carriage, clearing the crowds, paying tolls and carrying a torch at night. By the beginning of the 19th century only one such servant remained in London, working for the 4th Duke of Queensberry. The inn sign shows him in action. Unfortunately I couldn't find a picture of it.
The Poppinjay - Another London pub, built on the site of a 13th century house called The Popyngaye. The Popyngaye was a dummy parrot that was suspended from a pole and used in archery practice.

The Five (or four) Alls - Cheltenham and elsewhere. Dating from the 17th century, this sign usually shows a King "I rule for all," a parson "I pray for all", a lawyer "I plead for all", a soldier "I fight for all" and a labourer "I work for all." At Chepstow the labourer has become John Bull, the everyman, with the cynical caption "I pay for all." We all know how he feels! There was a popular rhyme in the 17th century: "King William thinks all, Queen Mary talks all, Prince George eats all and Princess Anne eats all."

The Flying Bull - a pub in Hampshire where two mail coaches, the Fly and the Bull, called on the London to Portsmouth Run.
Do you have any personal favourites?





7 comments:

Virginia C said...

What a fun topic. I found a few names of interest:

THE MOUSETRAP INN, Bourton- on-Water/Gloucestershire (watch your toes there)

JOLLY SAILORS, Whitby/North Yorkshire (self-explanatory)

THE SNICKLEWAY INN, York City Centre (snick in any time)

My personal favorite:

ONE EYED RAT, Ripon/North Yorkshire (blind in one eye, can't see out the other)

Jan Jones said...

Presumably they weren't called The Smugglers when people were actually, er, smuggling?

Kate Hardy said...

Fascinating, Nicola. We had a Popinjay Inn in Norwich (and there was a fire there in 1507 that lasted for 4 days and burned 700 houses in the city - a sizeable chunk, at that time).

The saying went that we had a church for every week of the year in Norwich and a pub for every day (but actually we had more than one pub per day!), and a lot of the street/yard names in the city come from pub names.

Some odd ones that used to be around Norwich:
* The Hog in Armour (is still here)
* The Labour in Vain
* The Cardinal's Cap (which was named in honour of Wolsey)
* The Bear and Staff (named named after the muzzled bear chained to a ragged staff shown on the arms of the Earl of Warwick - who defeated Kett's rebels in 1549, though I must say that my sympathies are with the rebels!)
* the Hampshire Hog (where the last game of logats was played in the county)

I could go on, but I'll stop being nerdy now ;o)

Great subject! (And I love Virginia's One Eyed Rat)

Nicola Cornick said...

What great names, Virginia! I like the one-eyed rat (poor little thing!) The Snickleway Inn is interesting. Where I come from in Yorkshire a snicket is a little passageway or footpath. I wonder if the two words are connected.

Jan, that's a good point about the smugglers. Maybe they were just so arrogant they were boasting about it. And maybe that's why there are no pubs called The Pirate - they were more discreet!

Nicola Cornick said...

Kate, those Norwich names are fascinating. I love the way that so much social history is tied in with pub names. Being such a Yorkist/Richard III fan I recognised the one taken from the arms of the Earl of Warwick but the Hog in Armour has me very curious.

Alison said...

I think I remember one called Spring Heeled Jack after the Highwayman/thief Jack Shepherd, but can't remember if it is in Essex or London now...

I love the film The Wicked Lady! You have reminded me to put up some more vintage videos on my blog.

Nicola Cornick said...

That's an excellent name, Alison! And I'll look forward very much to your vintage videos!