Pub Lore


It is a known fact that Angels adore Pubs. They appear on Pub Signs and I know I have come across some disguised as bar staff.

Many Country Pubs have an affinity to the local church and churchyards are full of stone angels. When we see them weeping draped over tombstones I feel it is only fair to drink to the memories of the dear departed even if we have little idea of who they were.

Do you know where your nearest Angel is?


Arms, Heads & Legs

These appear on Pub signs everywhere. What is it all about? It goes back a long way to the days when everyone who thought they were Someone wanted a Coat of Arms. It did not stop there. Trades and Guilds also wanted them. Royalty and the Famous like their heads to be depicted too – it was a status symbol. Even if they were not particularly popular.

It seems early generations of British artists and craftsmen did not go in for landscapes or painting cherubs in churches – it was mostly meticulous designs of a Heraldic nature. With ornate lettering very much a form of graphic art.

So where do the legs come in? Animals of course, from the mythical and fearsome to the commonest countryside creatures. Where would Coats of Arms be if they did not include Dragons, Griffins, Unicorns, Bears, Lions, Bulls and down the scale to Hares, Hounds, Foxes, Otters, Birds, to Hedgehogs and even Grasshoppers. All creatures Great and Small.

Does this serve a purpose today? Absolutely. The Great ARMS, HEADS & LEGS Game. If your idea of car travel is motorways forget it. This is for highways, byeways, minor roads, lanes and twisty roads where Pub signs are much in evidence. It is an antidote against boredom and can be enjoyed by grown ups and children.

Left hand passengers take left side of road, Right hand the right side. You can only score from Pubs on your side. Quite simple. You score one point for every arm, head and leg you can. Some signs are non pictorial – So a Kings Head with no picture will still earn you one point, or a Whatsit Arms two points. And two points for any other non-illustrated sign.

So a King in full pose with arms, head and legs visible is five points. The fun comes when you get to a Coach & Horses. How quick can you count all the visible legs etc.? This gives drivers a chance to slow down for speed cameras.

I have in the past used this game for very successful fund raising for charity. You need a worthy cause, some stalwart volunteers, a mini bus and driver. First priority is Benefactors to donate prizes. If your cause is worthwhile you will find reputable firms can be very generous with donations if you approach them properly and include them as sponsors on the forms you will need to run off. State Charity and ‘Guess How Many ARMS, HEADS & LEGS we visit tonight (Date).’ Many prizes to be won etc. 10p a Go or whatever it is you wish to charge, with provision on form for name amount Telephone No. etc.

Select an area of good family pubs, especially a well advertised starting venue and go for it. You don’t know how many pubs you will reach in the time you have. If you find an apathy Pub move on swiftly, if you are doing well don’t be in any hurry to move. The assumption is that you will aim for a high number. Punters will over calculate. It really does no matter. Some customers will rush outside to look at the sign of the Pub they are in. It all adds to the fun. Properly organized it is far more rewarding than a sponsored walk.



British Pubs have always liked well rounded things.

It probably goes back to the times when it was more or less agreed that the earth was no longer flat or pear shaped, but round and The Globe became popular as a Pub name. This would give the impression that the Pub was a worldwise sort of place even if the landlord and most of his customers had hardly been beyond the village boundary. The situation was improved in towns and ports where globetrotters could return from far away places and find good audiences for their tales and experiences.

There is also the British capacity for inventing or participating in games involving balls, such as cricket, football, skittles, billiards, golf and tennis. Even egg shaped balls for Rugby. All of these have had strong Pub connections and still do.

The sign for a pawnbroker was three brass balls, and there are Pubs called the Golden Ball, and the Blue Ball as these were popular colours for almost anything.