London Pub Names, 1867.
The Trades Directory for 1867 lists the top London trade as being publicans (I do this research so that you don’t have to).
Perusing the directory (peruse it? I can barely lift it) I find a lengthy list of the mid-Victorian period’s most popular pub names. In number one place is The King’s Arms (87) and The King’s Head (60) with the Queen’s Arms and the Queen’s Head following closely behind, it clearly being fashionable to spatchcock the royals into sections.
There are 26 Royal Oaks, 73 Crowns, plus many variants thereof – Crown & Anchors, Crown & Cushions, Crown & Sceptres, Crown & Apple Trees, Crown & Anvils and Crown & Barley Mows. Then we shift down the royalty tree to include Princes Albert, Alfred and Princesses Beatrice Alice before moving onto dukes and duchesses, no barons, and an assortment of lords and ladies.
After that it gets more interesting.
There are a lot of blue things; blue pumps, anchors, lasts, posts and 1 Blue-Eyed Maid. 24 Red Lions herald a bestiary of Dragons, Horses, Monkeys, Harts (deer), Swans, Goats, Spread Eagles and Red Herrings. Three seems to be a lucky number, 3 Tuns, 3 Turks, 3 Compasses, 3 Spies, 3 Castles, 3 Horsehoes etc.
There are lot of professions, Jolly Butchers, Carpenters, Skinners, Hatters, and of course a plethora of naval heroes and naval terms, like The Ship & Billet. The Crooked Billet refers to a bent stick that has fallen from a tree.
Today we have new pubs with pastiche names and sometimes original names. Although The Ape & Bird has lately become a chain, the Camel and Artichoke, The Pregnant Man, the Frog and Radiator, The Pyrotechnists Arms and John the Unicorn are still around, as is The Blacksmith & The Toffeemaker.
I have a fondness for blunt names; The Dog in Archway (as in ‘I’m going up the dog for an hour’) and The Boot, one of several boozers frequented by Charles Dickens, still in Bloomsbury.