If you are planning on 3 days in London; your trip would be complete with a visit to one of her pubs and anyone with a sense of history, must visit a London Pub.
Pubs can be found on just about every London Street, especially in the city centre, in areas like Covent Garden, Soho and Piccadilly and the older areas of the city.
The Pub Culture in London is an ancient tradition that goes back centuries and they were often the meeting place for heroes and crooks alike. Plays have been penned and battles planned in the pubs of London and the United Kingdom.
Pubs have played an important role in history and some date back to the 15th and 16th Centuries; originally private homes where ale could be bought at the door, some later on became coaching inns and resting places for travellers, where they exchanged horses and spent the night. The term ‘a square meal’ dates back to these times when Pub Owners provided slabs of bread with chunks of meat and a tankard of ale to weary horsemen.
During the Victorian era pubs florished and nowadays they are a place to relax and socialise. Samuel Johnson wrote “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
Many pubs have fairly simple names and other have quite simply; weird and quirky names. The history of pub signs dates back to Roman times when a sign was hung outside to denote the trade or profession of the occupants.
Made of stone or terracotta, the sign of a ‘Goat’ suggested a dairy; a ‘Mule’ driving a mill possibly a bakery. By the 12th century the naming of inns and pubs had become quite common with signs taking on a more prominant role, particularly as the majority of the population could not read in those times.
Quite simple, some signs were painted with religious symbols such as ‘The Sun’, ‘The Star’ or ‘The Cross’.
Later the signs were influenced by the coat-of-arms of the landowners on whose land the pubs stood.
King Richard, during his reign passed an act of Parliament that made it compulsory for pubs and inns to display his symbol – ‘White Hart’.
James I and VI of Scotland ordered the heraldic ‘Red Lion’ of Scotland be displayed on all important buildings, including pubs.
Edward IV – ‘White Lion’
Richard III – ‘White Boar’
(Inn Sign Society, History.)
Some pub names are rather weird, like ‘Flute & Flypaper’, ‘Filthy McNasty’s’, ‘Nowhere Inn Particular’, and ‘My Father’s Moustache’ (Gates).
I Am The Only Running Footman
The name of this London pub is a reminder of the 18th century running footmen, who were employed by wealthy men to run in front of their carriages, lighting the way and shifting any obstacles; hence the name ‘I am the only running footman’
The Cat’s Back
a small suburban pub close to the river Thames in the south London district of Wandsworth. An unusual name and an unusual sign; it was said to result from an occasion when the landlord’s cat returned home after an absence of several months!
The Nobody Inn N1
According to local legend, an unknown purchaser of the inn was said to have locked the doors and refused to take in travelers searching for bed or refreshment. When they received no answer on the door, they continued on their journeys believing that there was nobody in. Ever since the inn has been ‘Nobody Inn’.
Other weird or wonderful pub names that can be found in London:
Toad in the Hole – EC4
Witness Box – EC4
The Old Bell – a 330year-old pub on Fleet Street. EC2
The Black Widow – SW7
Adam and Eve (of course) – SW1
Bag O’ Nails – SW1
Jugged Hare – SW1
Nag’s Head – SW1
King’s Head & Eight Bells – SW3
Bull and Mouth – WC1
Goose and Granite – WC1
Porcupine – WC1
Water Rats – WC1
Green Man & French Horn – WC2
Moon under the water – WC2
Rat & Parrot – WC2
Shakespeare’s Head – WC2
Beehive – W1
Cock & Lion – W1
Dog & Duck – W1
Hog in the Pound – W1
Ye Grapes – W1
The Gatehouse Pub - N6