Pub Signs

Back to Previous Page Anyone who has visited Great Britain will have noticed the colourful signs which hang outside almost all of the public houses.

These signs often have a humerous side to them - something with which the Fat Badgers hold dear as humour plays a big part of any evening spent in a British inn - well it does if you go drinking with Fat Badger Ade anyway.

The Romans used to denote the trade or profession of the occupants of a building by hanging items outside. Some houses would in a similar fashion, hang a sign outside to indicate what could be found inside. Inns often change their names and for very many reasons. 

In modern times, the multi national companies come up with ridiculous names such as 'Cheekys Fun Bar' & 'Bar Zar' or a Landlord may rename his pub after 'himself' but generally most renaming is for a genuine reason for  which the landlord or brewery feels should receive recognition. Some may feel that a modern day sporting hero is not as worthy as a great British war hero and maybe in time 'The Ian Botham' will not be as easily recognisable as 'The Lord Nelson' but the Fat Badgers would rather see either of these than the 'Vavoom Music Video Bar'

Although many pub names can be quite obvious such as 'The Ferry Inn', others may need some explanation such as 'The Nobody Inn' in Doddiscombleigh in Devon.

In 1393, during the reign of Richard II, a law was passed to make pub signs compulsory. This was in order make them easily visible to passing inspectors of the quality of the ale they provided. At this time, water was not always good to drink and ale was the usual replacement.

The first signs were often not painted, but consisted of such things as bunches of hops or implements to do with brewing which were suspended above the door. Nicknames, farming terms and puns were also used. Events were often commemorated. The signs are often of heraldic interest, bearing in many cases the arms and badges of local lords. At first these signs were of a simple visual nature in the form of religious symbols such as the 'The Sun,' 'The Star' and 'The Cross' - but later they also became influenced by the coat-of-arms of the landowners on whose site the inn stood. 

Signboards depict everything, from great battles to important scientific discoveries, from great films and explorers to sporting heroes and royalty.

Over the last few hundred years, a network of inns and taverns developed along many newly constructed roads around the UK. To identify themselves to travelers, these inns would often post an easily identifiable sign. Because the majority of the public could not read, there was no reason to write the establishments name on the sign. Often the inn opened without a name and over the years, a name evolved from the illustration on its' sign.

In the middle ages, many of the signs had a religious theme, using emblems of Catholic Saints or other religious symbols. When King Henry broke with the Catholic Church signs depicting royalty, battles and admirals became popular. 

To this day, the Pub Sign is a most important part of the inn, apart from the tradition, colour & humour, it also often makes an inn easy to identify from a distance. So if you're travelling at great speed on a main road (just under the speed limit of course) seeing a colourful pub sign from afar can ensure that you don't miss out on a cracking lunch stop at one of the UK's great contry establishments.

There is even an inn sign society which you can join and if you wish you could even get your own sign painted by one of the master craftsmen still around creating Britain's newest masterpieces - such as Graeme Robbins - you would of course have to invite the Fat Badgers round for a drink if you hang it outside your house !

More information of Pub Names