Derivation of Public House Names

The evolution of the public house and of public house names and signage in Britain begins with the Romans.  Their extensive road building across the country included the erection of 'tabernae', being road sude refreshment stops which not only serviced the workforce, but also remained afterwards to serve an ever increasing number of travellers.

In the warmer climes of their Empire a freshly cut vine leafed branch was placed outside their tabernae to indicate a new consignment of wine.

The habit was followed in Britain, but because the colder climate was more conducive to ale and mead making, any available reshly cut evergreen branch was used to show when a new 'brew' was ready.  Holly and Ivy were the most accessible plants and the common pub names of 'Holly Bush' and 'Ivy Plant' reflect the practice to this day.

The first monastery in England was established after St. Augustine arrived in 597AD in Canterburt.  Over the next century hundreds more were built and they soon rose to become European centres of learning and scholarship.  These monasteries were self-sufficient and developed many farming practices, including the growing of wheat and barley and the baking and brewing processes which inevitably followed.  They performed many acts of charity and their practices of feeding the hungry and healing the sick, grew into a culture which provided sustenance and shelter to all pilgrims and travellers, and ale and mead soon became a staple part of this set-up.

Monasteries in effect became the first 'inns' and as it was only the monks who could read and write, a more permanent and recognizable visual image was needed to identify the place where food and drink could be obtained.  Again we followed a Roman practice.  Their buildings which offered banking and money lending services hung a 'checker board' outside, and English monks adapted this practice by flying a checkered flag simply to advertise food, drink and accommodation.  This is the root of the modern word 'exchequer' and of another still common public house name, the 'Chequers'.

From that point brewing and the concept of the public house evolved via the rise of Anglo-Saxon farmers, the Vikings, the dissolution, heraldry and hunting, the rise of commercial brewing, the expansion of trade, the Industrial Revolution with the development of turnpikes, canals and railways, urbanization, 19th century Beer and Licensing Acts and the rise of Empire, all being underpinned by the continuous threads of Monarchy, religion and military conflict, but it is two Kings of England who have, arguably, had the most influence on why public houses are named and signed as they are.

The first was William of Normandy (1028-87) who became King of England after his successful conquest in 1066.  The consequence of the Conquest on the future of public house names was that land and property across Britain was awarded to French noblemen and Knights (for services rendered during the invasion).  This included most of Leicestershire and Rutland and, to this day, many Manors and Estates are still held by descendants of those French noblemen and Knights.

The second was King Richard II (1367-1400) who formulated the 1393 Act making it compulsory to display a sign identifying a drinking establishment, his own emblem being a 'white Hart'.


So, from the Roman influenced name 'Vine Inn' to the modern (and unique) name, 'Jackson Stops', and from 'Adam & Eve' to the 'World's End' this section records the etymology and derivation of as many of the names of Leicestershire and Rutland public houses as possible and, hopefully, gives an insight into how the rich and varied body of names developed over the last 2000 years.

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