The most common pub names in England

18.06.2021

Popular Pub Names

According to Nomen United Kingdom, there are more than 57,000 local English pubs today. Pub names are gateways to the past, telling people the rich history of the UK. These quirky names date back to the old times, specifically during the Roman times, when specific materials are hung outside establishments to tell people that there is alcohol available in the specific area. As years went by, these materials were replaced by painted signs then written names as improvement in literacy rates were seen. Although there are numerous names among pubs in England, there are specific ones that are dominant and are seen more prominent than others. Here are some of these pub names that you’ll frequently see as you travel through England:

 

The Red Lion

The Red Lion is the UK’s most famous pub name. Heraldry was famous during this time, so animals and armorial bearings are often incorporated in British pubs’ signs and names. The red lion is said to be from the coat of arms of the renowned Duke of Lancaster John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt lived during the 1300s, but the red lion is said to be made popular when James VI and I imposed the red lion to be displayed on pubs and essential buildings. As of today, there are around 600 Red Lion pubs.

 

The Royal Oak

The second most well-known pub name in England is The Royal Oak. This name is said to be from a story studied in English history. In 1651, Prince Charles Stuart and Cromwell fought in what was known as the Battle of Worcester, but the former was defeated. Because of this, the prince was considered an outlaw when he escaped the battle. In order for him to escape and not be known, he dressed up as different people, most commonly as a woman, hid in several houses, and climbed an English oak tree where he hid for a day. This tree was said to be located in Shropshire’s Boscobel House. After hiding in this tree, he went to France. When he came back to England, he became known across the land as Charles the II, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The oak tree where he hid then became the Royal Oak, and the history this tree holds was honored and celebrated by using it as a pub name. Right now, there are around 344 Royal Oak pubs.

 British Pub Names

The Crown

Third on the list of popular British pub names is The Crown. Without a funny or super eventful history, The Crown being a pub name is more serious in nature. During the old time, many kings and queens were beheaded or dethroned, so by having a generic name, the pub owners do not need to repeatedly change their name in accordance to the person or family reigning. Having the name “The Crown'' makes it seem like pub owners are supporting whoever is in the highest position at the time and is honestly safer. Some pub owners also used the name “The Crown Inn.” Today, there are said to be 328 pubs with the name The Crown.

 

The White Hart

Another name related to heraldry, like the Red Lion, pub names often make use of The White Hart as a pub name. Ruling during the 14th century, a white stag was on King Richard II’s official badge, and during his time, he commanded all inns and pubs to hang signs in their areas to let people know that these are drinking establishments. Because of this, a lot of inn and pub owners used the white hard on this badge as a sign and as a name on many pub signs. Today, 225 pubs are named The White Hart.

 Pub Names UK

The Plough

Fifth on the list is The Plough, which is a generic name related to the agricultural past of the UK. As many people know, Europe was dominated by feudalism for a long time. In feudalism, there are considered two types of laborers – peasants and serfs. They are both protected by nobles in exchange for their labor on the land. With this setting, pub owners named their pubs “The Plough” to honour the peasants and the products, specifically the cereals, which pub owners also use for their ales and whiskeys. Currently, there are 225 British pubs named The Plough.

 

The New Inn

Terms like Old and New are often placed before the main name of pubs to make it more distinct or to differentiate itself from nearby pubs. Sometimes, pubs with the word “New” in it are also located on main roads so that people can easily access them.

 Common Pub Names

The Ship

Another famous name of pubs in England is The Ship. There are different stories behind this, but some pubs are named like this because the owners are retired seamen, or the inn and pubs were frequented by seamen. Whatever the reason is, there will always be an interesting story behind The Ship as a name for pubs. Some pub owners today even use specific names of ships. Right now, there are 243 pubs named The Ship, according to Google.

 

The Swan

Reigning monarchs have always owned swans, so this is another symbol with a heraldic meaning. One pub is now famously known as Swan with Two Necks because in the 16th century, the Vintners were given a swan by Queen Elizabeth I. To distinguish the Vintners’ swans from those of the monarchy, the former’s swans have two notches in their beaks, so there was a swan with two necks. On the other hand, some say that Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves also possessed a white swan as a family crest, so pubs used this as their sign. In addition to this, The Swan is frequently related by the people to ownership rights or traders’ meeting place, so there is no clear original explanation of where this name originated.

 

The Bell

As said earlier, pub names originate from different things, form simple objects to highly-regarded monarchies. In this case, The Bell is often a religious object where pub names originated. For instance, there is a pub called The Six Bells because some people say that the church near the pub rings six times every time. In addition to this explanation, there is also a belief that bells possess magical powers, so people are being protected against evil spirits by this object. Names like Eight Bells, Old Bell, and other ones are said to have religious connections, so many pub owners also use this name for their pubs.

 

The Kings Head

For a safer announcement of loyalty, many pubs use the name “King’s Head” instead of “Pope’s Head” when King Henry VIII removed himself from the Catholic Church. There has been a lot of anti-Catholicism during this time for so long, too, so this name was safer, and pub owners would not have to change their names frequently.

 

The Queens Head

This name has nothing to do with Anne Boleyn and Catherin Howard’s beheading. This name, according to some, might just be derived from when pubs had pictures of Queen Victoria or Elizabeth I on their signs. Some people also wonder why there are no pubs with The Queens Head as a name which featured Elizabeth II. Well, the answer is that modern rules state that reigning monarchs should not be placed on pub signs as long as they are alive.

English Pub Names