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Friday, 31 July 2009
Inn Signs of England

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (August 2009)

This is the first in what I hope will be several articles on English pub signs and peripheral bits of interesting, but not necessarily useful, information.

Over 25 years ago when I lived in Dagenham I used to visit a pub called The Angel in nearby Rainham which is the next village east along the north bank of the River Thames. There is also a Rainham on the Kent side of the river which may have been founded by the same bunch of Saxons but the modern villages are not connected. more>>>

Posted on 07/31/2009 5:58 PM by NER
31 Jul 2009
Send an emailGeorge McCallum

What a wonderful article and pictures.  I lived in South Wales for a period of years in the 1980s and had friends who lived in Bredwardine nead Hereford.  We regularly travelled up the road and took our libation at the Red Lion Inn and Hotel in Weobley in Herefordshire.  It is a beautiful 15th century inn and I love the exposed timbers on the building.  Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the sign, but this is a link to their website:

Thank you for bringing these memories out of the attic.  I will raise a toast to you this weekend with my gin and tonic.

1 Aug 2009
Send an emailSue R

The Wetherspoon's in Wood Green, Haringey, London has been named Spouters' Corner, as it stands on a junction that was knowdn as that in the twenthieth century,  It is the junction between Green Lanes and Lordship Lane which traditionally (in pre-television days) was a local Speakers' Corner.  I think it is good that a little bit of London workingclass history is being memoralised in this way, even if most of the inhabitants of Wood Green these days don't eralise it.  There is no sign, just the name.  As for the Dandylion; was that teh original name?  The Red Lion in High Barnet, an old coaching inn was renamed the Dandylion a few years ago in an effort to appeal to a younger market.

1 Aug 2009
Esmerelda Weatherwax

Thank you both.
I don't know about the Dandy Lion but did wonder that myself. My mother-in-law who was brought up in Bradford-on-Avon couldn't place it, she only really remembered the Bear in Silver Street (now closed and she left in 1948)  but as we are back there in October I hope to find out, possibly from the local museum.


1 Aug 2009
Norman Berdichevsky

During my 7 years residence in London, looking out for pub signs was one of my favorite pasttimes. As a social geographer, I was fascinated by their contribution to the local cultural landscape. I always had my camera at the ready but frequently couldn't slow don enough. Thank you for the great article and the many photos. I look forward to future sequels.



1 Aug 2009
windy blow

I am told (probably unreliably) that pub signs do allow for the legitimate use of "and and and" in a sentence.

A pub called the "Fox and Duck" – no spoonerisms here, please – was having its sign repainted but the signwriter hadn't done a good job, allowing the landlord to say:

"There needs to be more space between the fox and and and duck."

1 Aug 2009
Send an emailMary Jackson

The fussy landlord of the Hat and Feathers told his sign-painter: "The gap between hat and and and and and feathers is too wide."

2 Aug 2009

Dear Esmerelda - I just want to say how very much I enjoyed your little article, and the accompanying pictures.

We don't have pub signs like that in Australia, I think.  Once one gets outside the large towns, what one finds is 'The [insert name of township] Hotel'.  Because it's the only one in town and therefore no-one saw any reason to call it anything else.  If the town is large enough to have *two* pubs, very often the second one (if the town is or was on a rail line) is "The Railway Hotel".

In cities, things vary a bit: I have seen a 'Duke of Edinburgh Hotel' named because it was on, wait for it, 'Duke of Edinburgh Road'.  And I have seen a 'Regatta Hotel', which is located right on the bank of a river, overlooking a long reach where rowing crews hold races.  But neither of them have pictorial signs such as those that you have recorded.  

Some places in Australia are so small that the pub/ 'hotel' is about all there is to them, and is the focus of community life. During the terrible bushfires in Victoria in February this year, in one small settlement everybody converged on the pub where they  took refuge, and all able-bodied persons then united to defend it: the rest of the hamlet went up in smoke, but ...*they saved the pub* .


7 Sep 2009
Send an emailKent Mountford, Ecologist / Historian

I'm writing a book about the sailing vessel on which I grew up. Her name's "Silent  Maid", ostensibly after an English pub the sign on which was a woman's toro with no head.

I can't find the sugn can someone please help? We want to make a battle engign for the boat!

Kent Mountford, PhD

16 Oct 2009
Esmerelda Weatherwax

I?have heard of the Silent Woman which is in Dorset, and mentioned by Thomas Hardy, although I have not visited it myself, which sounds very similar to what you describe.
This is the pub website.
And this a link to a picture of the sign.


There is another pub of that name in Slaithwaite in Yorkshire.

31 Oct 2009
Mrs D J Hill

Very interested to read this article. Iagree with the sentiments expressed, we should hang on to these signs. I have recently picked up a book called "Introduction to Inn signs" by Eric R. Delderfield and although an old book, it's very informative and easy reading. It could be that some of the signs illustrated no longer exist now. I hope that something can be done to save our pub signs. I am a non drinker but a keen history buff and I love these old signs!

2 Aug 2011

Hello, Ms. Weatherwax. Loved all the pub signs. I've been trying to find out the origin of the phrase, "The Moon Under Water." Everything I've read says it was used as the name of the pub in an Orwell article. But nothing says what it means or where the phrase came from. Orwell must have got the phrase from somewhere. I would like to know the origin of the phrase and I thought, perhaps, you know or might be able to find out. Thank you!

16 Aug 2015
Send an emailJean
George Mackenney Painted a copy of "The King's Arms" sign in Ockley Surrey for me (he had done the original). Has George become any more well-known. ? I thought he was terrific. And what happened to the King's Arms??

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