Derivation of Leicestershire and Rutland Public House Names - Religious


Abbey Inn [2] / Abbey Hotel [1] / Abbey Motor Hotel [1] -

The Augustinian Abbey of St. Mary de Prais (Leicester Abbey) was founded in the 12th century by the 2nd Earl of Leicester.

Cardinal Thomas Wlosey, chaolain to King Henry VIII, died at the Abbey in 1530, and following the dissolution in 1538, the Abbey was demolished.

The 'Abbey Inn' at Whitwick relates to the 'Mount St. Bernard's Abbey', a Cistercian monastery of the Strict Observance (Trappists).

Founded in 1835, the original building was designed by William Railton (1800-77), more famous as the designer of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.


Adam & Eve [1] -

Adam and Eve appear as the first man and woman in a number of Middle Eastern religions including in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible, where they are banished from the Garden of Eden for eating forbidden fruit.

Adam and Eve are used on the arms of the 'Worshipful Company of Fruiterers' which received its first 'Official Grant of Ordinance' in 1463 under King Edward IV.


Anchor [8] / Anchor Inn [5] / Ye Anchor [1] -

'Anchor' as a pub name on its own may reflect a nautical connection or the Biblical reference noted below.

Anchor Of Hope [1] / Hope & Anchor [1] -

In Christianity the anchor is a symbol of hope and reflects the words of St. Paul - "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul -----"

In the days of sail, the spare anchor on a ship was called the 'hope anchor', and this inn sign often signified a lanlord who was a retired sailor.

Anchor & Horse [1]


Angel [7] / Angel Inn [5] / Angel Hotel [2] -

The 'Angel' has been a pub sign in use since the Middle Ages, reflecting the early links between religious establishments and the provision of sustenance for travellers and pilgrims.


Bell [9] / Bell Inn [8] / Bell Hotel [3] / Bell Fountain [1] / Bell Tap [2] / Three Bells [1] / Five Bells [1] / Six Bells [1] / Eight Bells [3] /

Old Ten Bells [1] -

Because most settlements throughout Britain grew around a church and a hostelry, and because of the simplicity of shape for signage, 'Bell' has always been a popular pub name, with many being prefixed by a number reflecting the number of bells, or of churches, within the hearing of the pub.

Bell & Swan [1] / Bellringers' Arms [1] / Ring O'Bells [1] / Moon & Bell [1]


Bishop Blaize [4] / Bishop Blaize Inn [1] / Old Bishop Blaize [1] -

St. Blaise was a 3rd century physician and Bishop of Sebastea in Armenia (modern Turkey), who was

martyred by being beaten with iron woolcarding combs and then be-headed.  This led to him becoming the

Patron Saint of woolcombers, with a large comb and two crossed candles being used as emblems.  

The two candles relate to the 'blessings of the throat', held on his feast day (3rd February) which stems

from the story of him pressing crossed candles to the throat of a young boy who had a fish bone stuck in

his throat, and so healing him.


Bishop St. Blaise

Cardinal's Hat [1] -

A red gelaro is the large, broad brimmed tasseled hat worn by cardinals in the catholic church.  First granted by Pope Innocent IV in 1245, it is aligned with the title 'Prince of the Church'.


Catherine Wheel [1] -

St. Catherine of Alexandria is said to have been martyred on a wheel which had spikes projecting from its circumference, and the image was adopted by the Knights of St. Catherine of Mount Sinai in the 11th century as a sign of protection for pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, and early inns and taverns used the idea and sign to promote their hospitality to travellers.


Crispin's Arms [1] -

St. Crispin is the Patron Saint of cobblers and shoemakers.

The other possible reference for its use as a public house name was the fact that St. Crispins Day falls on 25th October, the date of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. popularized by Shakespeare with the King's rousing speech before the battle, in his play, 'Henry V'.


Cross Keys [12] / Cross Keys Inn [1] -

'Cross Keys' is a common name in Christian heraldry and refers to the sign of Saint Peter, the gatekeeper of heaven.


Druids' Arms [2] -

The Druids were a priestly class spread across Celtic and pagan Europe from around 200BC.  Very little recorded evidence survives, but Julius Caesar, and other Roman writers, describe the ways of the Druids as they progressed across Gaul and the rest of Western Europe.


Friar's Head [1] -

The'Friar's Head' om All Saints Road was named for its proximity to the site of Blackfriars Friary, founded in 1284, dissolved in 1538 and subsequently granted to Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk in 1546.

Friary [1] -

The 'Friary' on Hotel Street was named for its proximity to the site of Greyfriars Friary, founded before 1230, dissolved in 1538 and subsequently demolished, where the bones of King Richard III were excavated in 2012.


Golden Ball [2] -

A golden globe was used by Constantine the Great as a symbol of his royalty, with an added cross on the top when he converted to Christianity.

In public house terms the 'Golden Ball' seems to have no religious or heraldic significance, but, because of its simplicity, became popular as a symbol for a number of trades.


Golden Cross [1] -

An early religious reference.


Herald of Peace [1] -

In Christianity, Jesus Christ is described as the 'Herald of Peace'.


Holywell [1] -

The 'Holywell' on London Road, Hinckley was named in recognition of the nearby spring named the 'Holy Well'.  Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and named 'Our Lady's Well' in 1755, the spring had a pump which was removed in 1895.


Lamb [5] / Lamb & Flag [1] -

Taken from the Gospel of John, "Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the World", a lamb and the flag of Saint George became the symbol of the Knights Templars and later within the arms of the 'Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors', which was originally known as the 'Guild and Fraternity of St. John the Baptist'.

Lion & Lamb [1] / Lion & Lamb Hotel [1] -

In Christian heraldry, the lion is the symbol of the resurrection, and the lamb is the symbol of the redeemer.


Merry Monk [1] / Merrie Monk [1] -

A reference back to the days when monasteries were the main providers of ale and mead.


Mitre & Keys [2] -

The name 'Mitre & Key' is a combination of two religious symbols, the mitre for a Bishop and a key for St. Peter.

Old Mitre [1] -

As a symbol of the office, the traditional Bishop's deeply cleft, pointed hat, the 'mitre' has been used, mainly in cathedral towns, as a public house sign since the 15th century.  In heraldic terms, the 'mitre' was always placed above the shield of persons entitled to wear it.


Mount Zion Inn [1] -

Mount Zion is the hill outside the walls of Jerusalem.  The Bible records it as the Jebusite fortress conquered by King David.


Noah's Ark [2] / Ark [1] -

'Noah's Ark' was a popular inn name during medieval times when 'The Deluge' was presented as a mystery play.  An image of the Ark became part of the Company of Shipwright's and their motto became, "Within the Ark, safe for ever".

Rainbow & Dove [1] / Dove & Rainbow [1] / Dove [1] -

The name 'Rainbow & Dove' originates with the story of Noah's Ark and the flood.  The Dyers Livery Company received its first Royal Charter in 1471, and, as with all companies during the following period, performed 'Mystery Plays' at Whitsuntide.  Originating in the Church, Mystery Plays were designed to show the battle between good and evil, and portrayed stories from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The Dyers became associated with performing 'The Deluge' about Noah and the flood, and adopted the sign of the 'rainbow and dove' accordingly.

Olive Branch [3] -

The olive branch, symbol of peace from the biblical story of Noah's Ark was a popular early inn sign, and the scene of the dove carrying an olive branch became part of the arms of the 'Worshipful Company of Shipwrights'.


Salutation [1] -

The greeting of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary when informing her that she was to carry Jesus Christ.


Star [10] / Star Inn [7] / Starr Inn [1] / Old Star Inn [1] / Star Temperance Hotel [1] -

In its simplest form, a star was a religious symbol referring to the star of Bethlehem, but, from 1634, a 16 pointed star appeared in the arms of the 'Guild of Innkeepers'.

Star & Ball [1]


Three Crowns [1] -

The 'Three Crowns' at Wymeswold is thought not to relate to the monarchy, but to be a reference to the Biblical Magi or three Kings of the navtivity.


Three Nuns [1] -

Usually named for the proximity to a nunnery or priory.


Three Swans Hotel [1] -

The origin of 'three swans' begins with Benedict, a monk from Auxerre in France, who, in a dream, was instructed by St. Germain to travel to England and start a new monastery at Selebiae.  As he arrived at the bend in the River Ouse at Selby in Yorkshire, three swans alighted on the water.  Seen as a good omen, three swans became the official crest of the Abbey.

Three swans also appear in the Coat of Arms of Richard, Provost of Wells in the 15th century and of the Fazackerly family in Lancashire.


Two Triangles [1] -

In public house name and sign terms the 'Two Triangles' refers to the star of David, a six pointed star made up of one equilateral triangle rotated and superimposed over another.  Its original origin is obscure, but it has become a religious symbol used not only in Judaism, but also in Christianity and by Muslims.


Two Steeples [1] -

In medieval times Wigston Magna was known as 'Two Steeples' because, unusually, it had two Parish churches, St. Wistans and All Saints.


Wolsey Tavern [1] -

Thomas Wolsey (1471-1530) was a Roman Catholic Cardinal who served as First Minister under King Henry VIII.  

His connection to Leicester was brief.  A victim of Henry's battles with the Pope, Wolsey was stripped of all offices except that of Archbishop of York, to where he retired in shame.  By the autumn of 1530, a warrent for treason was issued against him, and he was ordered to return to London.  On route he was taken ill and died, on 29th November, at Leicester Abbey, where his body was buried.

Leicester Abbey became a victim of King Henry VIII's dissolution and Wolsey's grave was lost.

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