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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Pub sign

British pub signs can trace their roots to Ancient Rome where landlords hung branches of vines outside their taverns.

In 1393 King Richard II compelled landlords to erect signs outside their premises. At first all inns and taverns displayed an identical signpost showing a bush to indicate theirs was a place where travelers could quench their thirst. The bush was chosen, as in Greek mythology it was sacred to Dionysus, who was worshiped as the god of wine.

In the later Middle Ages as drinkers became choosier different colorful signs were displayed outside the drinking establishment to assist the illiterate traveler to choose a suitable tavern. These "inn" signs were a variation of a similar system practiced by churches where a statue or stained glass window identified the relevant saint after whom the church was named. Frequently the traveler was on a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of a particular saint.

Because of this and the Christian culture of the time many inn names involved religious symbolism. For instance "The Ship" was a reference to Noah's Ark and "The Bull" referred to the Latin "bulla", which was the seal of a monastery.

Later names reflected the names of the guilds and associations formed by city craftsmen, such as the Three Compasses (carpenters), the monarch of the day or a noted figure (The King's Head or The Lord Nelson), a historical event (The Royal Oak) or a coat of arms (The Red Lion.)

The most common name for a pub is 'The Red Lion' with over 5,000 in Britain. It is followed by The Crown and The Royal Oak.

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