Derivation of Leicestershire and Rutland Public House Names - Myths and Legends 


Admiral Hornblower [1] -

Admiral Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Royal Navy Officer portrayed in a series of novels by C. S. Forester (1899-1966).  Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the first novel, 'The Happy Return', was published in 1937.


Fallen Night Hotel [1] / Ivanhoe Social Club [1] -

'Fallen Knight' is a reference to Ivanoe, the fictional hero of Walter Scott's novel first published in 1820.  It is the tale of a disinherited Saxon family under the overwhelming power of the Normans in post Crusade England, and includes a scene set ion Ashby Castle where Ivanhoe is the 'fallen knight' helped by the 'black knight' who turns out to be King Richard I in disguise.


Flying Horse [4] / Old Flying Horse [2] / Ye Olde Flying Horse [1] -

Originally used as a reference to 'Pegasus', the winged horse of Greek mythology, and used as an heraldic device by the Knights Templars, the name 'Flying Horse' evolved to cover other meanings in the world of the public house.  For a period, stage and mail coaches were called 'flying machines' and, inevitably, the horses became, 'flying horses'.

During and immediately after World War II, a number o pubs were re-named 'Flying Horse' in appreciation of British parachute troops whose insignia included an image of Pegasus.  (Note - the image used for the insignia was designed by novelist Daphne du Maurier, who, at the time, was married to General Frederick 'Boy' Browning, commander of the First Airborne Division).


George & Dragon [15] / Saint George & Dragon (George / Sign of the George) [1] -

Saint George is the patron saint of England, as well as many other countries including Germany and Greece.  He is also patron saint of soldiers, farmers and saddlers.

The accepted facts of Saint George are that he was born in Cappadocia (now in Turkey) in the 3rd century AD, that he was Christian and that he became a Tribune in the Roman Army.  In 303AD, objecting to persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian, George resigned his army post  and was imprisned, tortured and be-headed.  It is said that Diocletian' wife was so impressed with George's faith, that she converted to Christianity, eventually, too, being executed.

The first reference to George in Britain appears in the 7th century AD, in an account by St. Adamnan, Abbott of Iona, with later references in the writings of the Venerable Bede.  His myth and reputation, grew throughout the Crusades, and the 23rd April was named as St. George's Day at the Council of Oxford in 1222.

The myth of St. George and the Dragon does not appear in writing until 1483 in 'The Golden Legend', tales of the Saints, translated from the French and printed by Caxton.

It is thought that the only (tenuous) link between St. George and England, is that the George and dragon story in 'The Golden Legend' is similar to an earlier Anglo-Saxon (and Pagan) legend.

Green Dragon [4] -

In heraldry, the colour green signifies 'hope, joy' and sometimes 'loyalty in love', and the dragon signifies a 'most valiant defender of treasure'.

A green dragon can be found on the coat of arms of the Earls of Pembroke.

Dragon [1]


Golden Fleece [7] -

In Greek mythology, the 'Golden Fleece' is a classic hero's quest tale, where Jason and the Argonauts embark on a sea journey to an unknown land in search of a magical ram's fleece which he needs to find in oeder to reclaim his father's Kingdom of Iolkos from the usurper King Pelias.

The meaning o the tale has been interpreted and re-interpreted many times since its original around 1300BC.

Its use as a public house name begins with the formation of the chivalric order of the Knights of the Golden Fleece in 1429 whose emblem was a ram with a red band around its niddle.


Green Man [2] -

The change of the seasons have been recognized and celebrated by diferent cultures all over the world since pre-history.  In temperate climates Spring and Summer have been particularly marked, with many early and pagan communities celebrating a 're-birth' within the natural cycle.

In Northern Europe, May 1st became the appointed date as the first day of Summer, and festivals celebrating the 'greening' of plants and trees developed independently in various communities.  The Celts celbrated 'Beltane', and the Romans dedicated the day to the Goddess 'Flora'.  Part of their celebration included the cutting of a newly leafed tree which they decorated with ribbons and flowers - the origin of the Maypole.

Over the centuries, a common representation within these celebrations became the image of a ace made up of, or surrounded by, new shoots and green leaves, so representing the re-birth phase of the natural cycle.  It was either known as the 'Green Man' or 'Jack-in-the-Green'.


Griffin [7] -

The 'Griffin', 'Griffon' or 'Gryphon' is an heraldic mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.


Hobgoblin [1] -

In folklore a 'Hobgoblin' is most often portrayed as a friendly but mischievious small hairy creature capable of a shape shift.  The best known being 'Puck' in Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream'.  However, the 'Hobgoblin' at Loughborough is undoubtably named in relation to the Hobgoblin Beer brewed by Wychwood Brewery.


Horn of Plenty [1] -

Used as a public house sign, the 'Horn of Plenty' symbolized the goat's horn which Zeus presented to Amalthea, promising abundance in all things.


Nemo's Bar [1] -

'Nemo's Bar' situated at Stoney Cove Diving Centre reflects the fictional charater Captain Nemo, the evil scientist who roams the seas in his submarine in the Jules Verne novels 'The Mysterious Island' and 'Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea'.


Neptune [2] -

'Neptune' was the Roman God of the sea, and public houses bearing this name usually signified where a retired sailor had taken up the trade.


Phoenix [2] -

The 'Phoenix' is a mythical bird who, towards the end of its life cycle (upto 1,000 years), builds a nest which it then ignites.  A new young bird then rises from the ashes, and is therefore symbolic of a rebirth, and in some cultures of immortality.

Heraldically, the Phoenix is associated with the Seymour family, Dukes of Somerset.


Robin Hood [6] / Old Robin Hood [1] -

The legendary outlaw of Medieval England, who, together with his 'merry men', robbed the rich to pay the poor.

'Robin Hood' as a public house name increased in popularity after 1834, when the Ancient Order of Foresters was founded and many courts, or lodge meetings were held in public houses.

Friar Tuck [2] -

'Friar Tuck' is one of the merry men in the legend of Robin Hood, and possibly based on Robert Stafford, a real life outlaw and chaplain of Lindfield, Sussex.

Little John [1] -

John Little appears as a trusted ally of Robin Hood in the earliest recorded songs and stories (early 15th century) and has always been portrayed as a strong man of great height and girth, hence the nickname 'Little John'.


Scarlet Pimpernel [1] -

The 'Scarlet Pimpernel' is the hero of the play and book of the same name by Baroness Emusska Orczy.  First published in 1905, it tells the story of Sir Percy Blakeney, an English aristocrat who, as a master of disguise, organizes the escape and rescue of many condemned prisoners during the French Revolution.


Tom Thumb [1] -

'Tom Thumbe' is a traditional character from English folklore who, as a figure no bigger than his father's thumb was used to warn and frighten children.


Unicorn [3] / Unicorn Inn [2] / Old Unicorn [1] / Unicorn & Star [1] -

The 'Unicorn' is a mythical creature of a horse with a single long horn projecting from its forehead.  In heraldry two unicorns support the royal arms of Scotland.  When James VI of Scotland became James I of England (1603), one of these unicorns displaced the Welsh dragon on the English royal arms, the other supporter being the lion.

A unicorn also features in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers, Goldsmiths and Apothecaries.


Wyvern [2] / Wyvern Temperance Hotel [1] -

The 'Wyvern' is a mythical creature in heraldry, being a winged dragon with two legs and a barbed tail.  Although, historically in bestiaries, wyverns were invariably depicted as evil dragons, in heraldry they are a symbol of valour and protection.

It's use in Leicester terms reflects a Wyvern on the crest on the Coat of Arms of the City of Leicester.


Zeus Bar [1] -

'Zeus' was the God of the sky and father of the Olypian Gods in Greek mythology.




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