The Hand & Shears

This pub was frequented by tailors and cloth sellers attending the cloth fair that ran at Smithfield from 1133 to 1855. The Merchant Taylors checked measures and this alehouse also had a courtroom upstairs used by the guild, with offenders being put in the stocks nearby.

1 Middle Street EC1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7600 0257
Tube: Barbican

This page concentrates on pubs with odd names. Six stations on the London Underground are named after pubs: Royal Oak, Elephant & Castle, Angel, Manor House and Swiss Cottage. Maida Vale is also named for a pub called the ‘Heroes of Maida’ after the Battle of Maida in1806. See also http://underground-history.co.uk/bullbush.php

Pub Names

The Old Bull & Bush

This corruption of ‘Boulogne Bouche’ marks the victory of King Henry VIII at Boulogne Mouth (Harbour) in 1542 that led to France's King Francis I recognising Henry as head of the church of England. The English occupied Boulogne for eight years.

Northend Road NW3
Tel: +44 (0)
20 8905 5456
Tube: Golders Green

The Boot and Flogger

The Boot & Flogger was a device for putting a cork in a bottle: a leather ‘boot’ holds the bottle and the wooden ‘flogger’ hammers in a cork. James Davy started this wine bar in 1964, the first of a now well-known chain. Note that it closes at 8pm and serves no beer – only wine, port etc.

10-20 Redcross Way SE1
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7407 1184
Tube: Borough

The Only Running Footman 

A footman in white livery once ran before horse-carriages to pay tolls and light the way with a flaming torch after dark or in fog. Many could run 20 miles in record breaking time. With its stable mews nearby, this was a meeting place for Mayfair footmen. It is the longest pub name in London.

5 Charles Street W1
Tel +44 (0)20 7499 2988
Tube: Green Park

The Dog & Duck

Duck hunting was the ‘sport’ of clipping a duck’s wings and throwing it into the village pond to be chased by dogs. It would survive as long as it could keep diving underwater, so the cruel ‘sport’ could last for hours. This pub built in 1718 is Grade II Listed.

18 Bateman Street W1
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7494 0697
Tube: Tottenham Court Road

The Bleeding Heart Tavern

Featuring in Dickens’ Little Dorrit, this yard is said to be where Lady Elizabeth Hatton was found murdered in 1662, her heart still pumping blood. In reality, the pub sign was the broken-heart of the Virgin Mary, lamenting the death of her son, Jesus Christ.

off Greville Street EC1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7242 2056
Tube: Chancery Lane

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Lamb and Flag

A common religious symbol, from the Gospel of St John: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” The lamb holds  the red cross flag – white for purity, red for blood – that represented the Resurrection of Christ long before it became the flag of England.

33 Rose Street WC2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7497 9504
Tube: Covent Garden

Fox & Anchor

This beautiful pub’s name is a bit of a mystery. However, such names (if they are not due to the modern fashion for quirky names) came about when a publican moved premises and wanted to take old customers with him ie from the Fox to the Anchor.

115 Charterhouse Street EC1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7250 1300
Tube: Barbican