Heraldry and Pub Signs

Coming up with a name and image for your pub sign can be quite the daunting task. Do you go with a pun like ‘The Stumble Inn’? Maybe a nod to a famous historical figure like ‘The Churchill Arms’? Or do you go old school with your coat of arms like many pubs and inns before you? The latter has been a popular option for countless years, so we wanted to take a look at why heraldry is the subject of choice for many pub signs throughout the ages.

To put it simply, heraldry is all about showing people who you are. Towards the end of the 12 century in England, when knights began to wear helmets which covered their faces, they couldn’t be recognised. To remedy this, they began to paint unique combinations of colours, shapes and animals, called their ‘arms’, on their shields and banner. As only one person was allowed to use these arms, everyone would be able to instantly recognise the knight in question when they saw them in a battle or tournament.

Since then, heraldic names and symbols have been displayed prominently across the United Kingdom, including above the door of your local watering hole. Pub names and signs often display the simpler symbols of the heraldic badges of royalty or possibly even just the name and coat of arms of the original landowner.

One particularly common heraldic pub name you may have seen in your city is ‘The Red Lion’, which originated from the time James VI, King of Scotland, ascended to the throne of England as James I back in 1603. After taking the throne, King James ordered that the heraldic red lion of Scotland was to be displayed on all buildings of importance in Great Britain, which of course included pubs and inns.

Many pub signs in Britain have royal links, such as ‘White Lion’ inns dating back to the time of Edwards IV and ‘White Boar’ establishments named after the emblem of Richard III (with the inclusion of the white rose of York on the sign). Legend has it that after Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, all ‘White Boar’ pubs were quickly renamed the ‘Blue Boar’, in reference to the badge of the de Veres who were the Earls of Oxford and had supported the War of the Roses victor, Henry Tudor.

Away from the history lesson, heraldic pub names and signs featuring emblems and coats of arms are still very much commonplace in cities across the UK. These images are usually displayed on a shield-shape sign to emphasise their knightly past (and let’s be honest, they just look cooler!).

If you too would like to feature a heraldic pub sign outside your home bar to give it that touch of regality and dash of history, get in touch with Barsigns.UK today and grab yourself a personalised shield-shaped sign or custom swinging bar sign today! Just don’t forget to research your family’s coat of arms first!

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