London is home to many historic pubs with fascinating stories behind their unusual and distinctive names. While relaxing with a pint, you may not realize the incredible history surrounding these much-loved institutions.
When you need a break, exploring the anecdotes behind London’s pub names provides a window into colourful events and characters from the city’s past. Additionally, if you’re interested in trying your luck, you can even find pubs that offer the unique experience of a £2 deposit casino.
Eccentric Aristocrats and Country Pursuits
Many historic UK pubs are named after British aristocrats who popularised certain leisure pursuits. For example, the Fox & Hounds in Wimbledon pays tribute to the 15th century nobleman Bishop Winnington-Ingram who regularly hunted foxes across the local fields with his hounds. Pub names referencing hobbies like fishing and horse racing reflect the upper class obsessions of their titled patrons.
Other names simply declare the coat of arms or family crests of their noble founders. The Crown & Sceptre in Greenwich recalls the royal insignia of Henry VIII who held a jousting tournament on the premises. While today we think of pubs as casual spots for commoners, centuries ago many existed to serve the pursuits of British aristocracy.
Infamous Rogues and Unsavoury Characters
In contrast to the nobility, London pubs also get their names from figures on the other end of the social spectrum. Take The Highwayman on the Tower Hamlets Road, referencing the notorious criminal Dick Turpin who was executed there for his illegal escapades plaguing travellers. Or Tom Cribb’s Pub near London Bridge, named for the early 19th century bare knuckle boxer Tom Cribb who frequented the tavern after matches.
These names evoke London’s grittier, seedier past populated by rebels, rogues, and rascals. They were likely badge of honours when adopted by the drinking establishments.
The Grisly and Macabre
London pub history contains its fair share of morbidity too. The Pygmalion in Islington references the dark tale of an artist who falls in love with his ivory statue. The Hung, Drawn, and Quartered pub draws its gruesome name from the gory public executions that occured outside its doors.
Often these names reflect punishment for grim historic crimes. But over time, the macabre becomes quirky charm. Stopping in for a pint in these establishments today evokes London’s darker past in intriguing ways.
Famous authors have left their mark by inspiring historic pub names across London. The Dickens Inn near London Bridge alludes to Charles Dickens’ connections to the area. The Sherlock Holmes in Northumberland Street gives a nod to Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective who lived nearby.
Other names are direct references to characters and scenes from English literature. The Old Curiosity Shop in Covent Garden bears the same name as the Charles Dickens’ novel. The Lamb & Flag in Convent Garden gets its unusual name from poet John Dryden’s essay about London. These literary pubs add bookish flair.
Reaching back even further in London’s history, some pub names stem from ancient legends and lore. For instance, The Crusaders references medieval crusaders heading out on adventures from the site in South Kensington. The Golden Lion’s name comes from the mysterious gilded beast said to roam the pub’s grounds in Fitzrovia during the Dark Ages.
These names contain echoes of Londinium’s earliest days as a lawless outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire. They represent the city’s long transformation into the modern capital it is today.
Immerse Yourself in History
There is no better way to soak up London’s rich, layered history than by visiting its historic pubs and learning the stories behind the names. Sitting with a pint in these establishments connects you to the characters and events that shaped the city through the centuries. It provides an intimate glimpse into the origins of London’s enduring icons.
Next time you seek out an authentically British pub, look beyond the menu and décor. Let the name transport you back in time to Restoration-era intrigues, Victorian-age whimsies, ancient folklore, and more. Don’t just stop in for a drink – step into the vibrant story of one of the world’s greatest cities.