Weird, Odd and Strange British Pub Names - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Weird, Odd and Strange British Pub Names

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Judith enjoys disconcerting herself and others with chilling stories from near and far.

British Pub Names

Whether you refer to them as inns, hostelries, public houses or taverns, these bastions of booze have been around for centuries. In times gone by, their names were often chosen for the ease with which they could be illustrated; the customers would have been largely illiterate, so a pictorial sign would have been a must. Many pub names recur throughout the country and have retained their popularity for centuries. A few are unusual, however. Here are a few of Britain's oddest pub names.

The Bucket of Blood Pub Sign at Phillack

The Bucket of Blood Pub Sign at Phillack

The Bucket of Blood, Cornwall

The Bucket of Blood at Phillack is the only pub in Britain to bear this name. Nowadays, it is a friendly pub in the centre of the small town of Hayle, serving good Cornish food and local beer. The St Austell Brewery, which runs the inn, has named an ale after the pub. The beer is a red ale (naturally!), made with spicy hops.

Apparently the inn did not have such a welcoming aspect some 200 years ago and was the regular haunt for local smugglers and criminals. The gory name arose when one morning the landlord went out to the well to draw a bucket of water and instead pulled up a bucket of blood. On investigating the cause, it was found that a body lay at the bottom of the well. The mutilated corpse was allegedly that of a Revenue officer, disposed of by the pub patrons.

Unsurprisingly, the pub is now rumoured to be haunted. Spectral figures allegedly stand on the opposite side of the road, gazing at the pub, whilst inside there have been reports of strange noises and unexplained phenomena. Some sources cite the pub as one of the top ten haunted pubs in Britain.

The pub sign is rather splendid and lives up to the old tradition of telling the pub's name through a picture. I doubt that anyone seeing this sign could pass by without wanting to go inside to find out the story behind the name - perfect marketing!

The Only Running Footman, Mayfair

Whether known by its former name I am the Only Running Footman or its slimmed down modern version The Only Running Footman, this is an intriguing name for a pub. Its origins lie with its founder who was, unsurprisingly, a footman. But what is a footman, and why would he be running?

Footmen were employed by very wealthy households in London to run before their carriages to clear the way, the narrow city streets being crowded with people, carts and animals. Over time the city streets were improved (particularly after the Great Fire) and the need for footmen in their original role disappeared. However, the job evolved and they became household servants, called upon to run errands. Often they were picked for their stature and good looks. They also lived out their employers' vicarious athletic ambitions, sometimes taking part in running races with rival households.

One of these running footmen retired from service and was able to buy an establishment in a mews off Berkeley Square in Mayfair to cater for his former colleagues. He named it I am the Only Running Footman, presumably because he felt he was the last of his kind.

The pub is now a popular gastro-pub, serving traditional British food and gaining favourable reviews from the critics. Why they dropped the "I am" from the name is a mystery - it seems a shame, but nevertheless it remains a charming name.

The Q Inn Has Won an Award....

A Plaque at the Q Inn, Stalybridge

A Plaque at the Q Inn, Stalybridge

The Q Inn, Stalybridge

Stalybridge can boast two entries in the Guinness Book of Records. One is for this pub name, officially the shortest pub name in Britain. Although the current pub is fairly modern, it is named after an earlier hostelry that stood nearby, bearing the name Q Inn.

Why is it the Q Inn - I can't find an answer to that! If you would like to do your own detective work, you can visit the pub at 3 Market Street, Stalybridge.

... As Has the Rifleman Inn

The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn, Stalybridge

The Q Inn isn't Stalybridge's only record breaking pub; The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn is the other one, holding the record for the longest pub name in Britain.  Locals shorten the name to the more manageable "RIfleman Inn".  Like the Q Inn, the Rifleman Inn boasts a blue plaque outside as well as its own entry in the Guinness Book of Records.  

The Distinctive Exterior of the Peveril of the Peaks

The Peveril of the Peaks, Manchester

The Peveril of the Peaks, Manchester

Peveril of the Peak, Manchester

The Peveril of the Peak, or The Pev to the locals, dates from 1829.  It has withstood the onslaught of time remarkably well and sits like a little island beneath the towering modern buildings around it.  Now a Grade II listed building, it has distinctive green ceramic tiles around its exterior.  Reviews of the pub praise it for its friendly service, live music and real ales.  

The name dates back to the pub's beginnings as a coaching inn.  One of the fastest stagecoaches on the Manchester to London route was named the Peveril of the Peak, making the journey in a swift two days.  So impressive was this feat that the inn took the coach's name.  You can find the pub at 127 Bridgewater Street, Manchester - look out for the ghost too!

Most Common Pub Names

Some of the commonest are:

Royal Oak

Red Lion

Crown

White Hart

King's Head

Where to Find these Unique Pubs

Comments

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 16, 2013:

Hi tastiger04 - I'm the opposite - if there were ghosts, I wouldn't care about the beer :D

Cheers!

tastiger04 on July 16, 2013:

These are awesome! I want to visit the Bucket of Blood :) As long as cold beer is on tap, I won't fear the ghosts lol. Voted up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 19, 2012:

Hi Stevew13 - I bet you only have to say "The Old ..." and the taxi company know where you are! Glad that you enjoyed this hub. Thanks very much for commenting, much appreciated :-)

Steve Wright from Norwich, England on May 19, 2012:

Great hub Judi, The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn, is quite a mouthful, I imagine that is tricky ordering a taxi home from there after you have had a few! Voted up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 19, 2012:

Hi Brainy Bunny - glad you enjoyed this hub, let's hope you get to one of the pubs some day soon (maybe I'll stand you a pint if you do!)

Thanks very much for commenting, I appreciate it :-)

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 18, 2012:

Great history! I hope someday to make my way to the UK to see some historic pubs in person (and maybe knock back a few while I'm there. . . . )

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 03, 2012:

Hi Audrey - this is one of my favourite hubs, I really enjoyed researching for it. I'm so glad that you enjoyed reading it.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it :-)

Audrey Howitt from California on March 03, 2012:

What an interesting hub--it is fascinating to see how these places got their names and to remember how old they are--Thank you!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 24, 2012:

Hi PDX - we too have companies that convert old buildings into new pubs, which is kind of odd seeing as so many old pubs are going out of business!

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on February 23, 2012:

Judi... this sounds like fun. I've always wanted to go to an English pub. Out here in the Northwest US, we have a family of pubs called McMenamins. They convert old buildings, like funeral homes, churches and orphanages into pubs and hotels.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 19, 2012:

Hi rlaha - I guess they are pretty cool, aren't they! Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's appreciated :-)

rlaha from Spartanburg, SC on February 19, 2012:

Hi Judi Bee. Yes, some of the names are strange, and some are just cool :).

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 19, 2012:

Hi rlaha - glad you found this interesting, some of the names are fascinating, aren't they!

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated :-)

rlaha from Spartanburg, SC on February 18, 2012:

Hi. This was so interesting. I have always wondered where the owners come up with the names for their pubs. Thanks for sharing!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 18, 2012:

Hi MP50 - thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I am glad that you found this interesting :-)

MP50 on February 18, 2012:

Great Hub, thanks for sharing such interesting and useful information. Voted up:-)

iamaudraleigh on February 18, 2012:

Hi Judi...Audra or Audi are just fine :) You are welcome!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 18, 2012:

Hi Deborah - some of the old pub signs are beautiful - lucky you for finding one! I am sure that you are the envy of all your neighbours.

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 18, 2012:

Hi iamaudraleigh (can I call you Audra?)- great to hear your comments, thanks for taking the time to stop by :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 18, 2012:

Hi Daisy - I've enjoyed writing about pubs! I love the stories behind the names, it's a fascinating piece of social history.

Thanks so much for your visit and for sharing this hub :-)

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 18, 2012:

I see Royal Oak is one of the most common pub names. We live in a subdivision in Iowa called Royal Oaks. A few years ago, I found an authentic English pub sign from one of those Royal Oak pubs. I bought it for my husband for Christmas to hang in our basement bar. It's huge, and quite the showpiece. The neighbors think it's great that we have our own Royal Oak pub in Royal Oaks!

iamaudraleigh on February 18, 2012:

Awesome hub!!! Happy reminder of visiting my sister in London when she lived there! Kuddos...voted up!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on February 18, 2012:

Judi Bee,

I've enjoyed your series of articles about British pubs. I think I like this one the best. Well done!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 09, 2012:

Hi Pamela - thanks for your visit. You may not have any old places, but your state does have a very fine musical named after it!

Thanks for your comment, good to hear from you :-)

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on February 09, 2012:

Great story. The Bucket Of Blood sounds like a scary place with a gory history. We don't have places that old here in Oklahoma since we are a young state.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 22, 2011:

Hi Princesswithapen - yes, it would be a bit disappointing if the Bucket of Blood was peaceful and twee!

Glad to hear that you enjoyed this hub, many thanks for your comments :-)

princesswithapen on December 22, 2011:

It's really not surprising that The Bucket of Blood is now thought to be haunted. That's a scary name for a pub and has a scary story to go with it. It was quite intriguing reading about the history that went along with the names of these pubs. Awesome hub!

Princesswithapen

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 05, 2011:

Oh no, MobyWho, I don't want to cause you angst! Sounds like you have some very fond memories, which I am very glad to hear.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting - much appreciated

:-)

MobyWho from Burlington VT on December 05, 2011:

This really refired my angst. How we miss the atmosphere of the pubs and small inns of the UK...all so friendly and warm - even to outsider Yankee tourists. And don't forget the usual drowsy dog laying by the fire! Ah, Bliss!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 05, 2011:

Hello Beth - it's strange that most people I know say they prefer traditional pubs, yet we are seeing them closed, refurbished and re-branded, often into a parody of a traditional pub. That's progress, I suppose!

Thanks very much for your comments :-)

Beth Pipe from Cumbria, UK on December 05, 2011:

Love this hub! Such a shame we're losing so many wonderful bits of history thru so many pub closures and takeovers by faceless breweries.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 05, 2011:

Hi Jason - very pleased to hear that you enjoyed this hub. I bet you saw some interesting sights, as well as interesting names, in the pubs of England!

Great to have your comments, thanks very much :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 05, 2011:

Hello Merchantdoctor - glad you enjoyed the read, hope you pull up a barstool again soon!

Thanks for your comments, very appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 05, 2011:

Hi Cosmicjellybaby - hadn't come across The Malbororough - great story, must be a nightmare to say if you've had one pint too many!

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them :-)

JasonCulley from Cheyenne, WY on December 05, 2011:

Great HUB. Spent 8 of my years in the Air Force, stationed in England and saw some interesting names.

merchantdoctor from Reno on December 05, 2011:

Thanks for the great Monday morning read! Nothing like a good pub to end the day!

cosmicjellybaby from UK on December 05, 2011:

Love the Hub! What about The Malbororough in Chester? They were painting the sign once and whoever did it misspelled its original name, The Marlborough. They liked it so much that they stuck with the misspelling.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on November 20, 2011:

Hi Movie Master - The Bucket of Blood seems to be everyone's favourite, quite deservedly - utterly gruesome!

Thanks for your comments, appreciated as always :-)

Movie Master from United Kingdom on November 20, 2011:

Wonderful hub Judi, I just love the 'bucket of blood' story - how gory, brilliant!

Well written, votting up, best wishes MM

Judi Brown (author) from UK on November 19, 2011:

Hi Seeker7 - I am in total agreement with you on favourite name and favourite story. Can't say I find the name Bucket of Blood appetising, but I couldn't pass it by without a peek inside.

Thanks for your very kind comments, very much appreciated :-)

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on November 19, 2011:

I love history, pubs, booze - in moderation - and spooks, so this hub was an absolute dream for me. It always fascinates me how names evolve or come into being so this wonderful hub has satisfied much of my curiosity in such things. I think my favourite name overall is 'The Bucket of Blood' and my favourite story is 'The Only Running Footman'. An awesome hub! Voted up.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on November 19, 2011:

Hi Eddy - thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend too :-)

Eiddwen from Wales on November 19, 2011:

Very nteresting indeed. take care and have a wonderful weekend.

Eddy.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on November 19, 2011:

Thanks Happyboomernurse - The Bucket of Blood is certainly a gory tale, though I am rather taken with the name I Am The Only Running Footman - not at all gruesome, but totally unique.

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on November 19, 2011:

Hello Kate - a pleasure to hear from you! I am so glad to find out that mine is not the only family that does things like make up strange new pub names - sometimes I do worry that we are a bit too odd!

Thanks for your comments :-)

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 19, 2011:

Very interesting hub about British pub names and the history behind the pubs and names. The Bucket of Blood was an unexpectedly gruesome tale but well written.

Voted up and interesting.

gryphin423 from Florida on November 19, 2011:

As always, I love your hubs! We always loved the names of the pubs when we lived there and some were so odd. We used to make up names like "The Onion and Pheasant", stuff like that. The names were usually matched in charm. Thanks for sharing Judi Bee!