London Taverns. The history of signboards, from the Earliest Times to
the Present Day.
By Jacob Larwood and john Camden Hotten. (1866)
ROYALTY stands prominently at the head of the heraldic signs in its triple
hieroglyphic of the Crown, (no coronets ever occur) the King's or Queen's Arms,
and the various royal badges. The CROWN seems to be one of the oldest of English
signs. We read of it as early as 1467, when a certain Walter Walters, who kept
the Crown in Cheapside, made an innocent Cockney pun, saying he would make his
son heir to the Crown, which so displeased his gracious majesty, King Edward
IV., that he ordered the man to be put to death for high treason. The Crown Inn
at Oxford was kept by Davenant, (Sir William Davenant's father.) Shakespeare, on
his frequent journeys between London and his native place, generally put up at
this inn, and the malicious world said that young Davenant (the future Sir
William) was somewhat nearer related to him than as a godson only. One day, when
Shakespeare was just arrived, and the boy sent for from school to see him, a
master of one of the colleges, pretty well acquainted with the affairs of the
family, asked the boy why he was going home in so much haste, who answered, that
he was going to see his godfather Shakespeare. “Fie, child,” said the old
gentleman, “why are you so superfluous? Have you not learnt yet that you should
not use the name of God in vain?” On the site occupied by the present Bank of
England there used to stand four taverns; one of them bore the sign of the
Crown, and was certainly in a good line of business, for, according to Sir John
Hawkins,” it was not unusual in those toping days to draw a butt (120 gallons)
of mountain in half-pints in the course of a single morning. About the same
period there was another Crown Tavern in Duck Lane, W. Smithfield. One of the
rooms in that house was decorated by Isaac Fuller (ob. 1672) with pictures of
the Muses, Pallas, Mars, Ajax, Ulysses, &c. Ned Ward praises them highly in his
“London Spy.” “The dead figures appeared with such lively majesty that they
begot reverence in the spectators towards the awful shadows 1” Such painted
rooms in taverms were not uncommon at that period.
The origin of the sign of the THREE CROWNs is thus accounted for by Bagford:”—“The mercers trading with Collen (Cologne) set vp ther singes ouer ther dores of ther Houses the three kinges of Collen, with the Armes of that Citye, which was the Three Crouens of the former kinges, in memory of them, and by those singes the people knew in what wares they deld in.” Afterwards, like all other signs, it was used promiscuously, and thus it gave a name to a good old-fashioned inn in Lichfield, the property of Dr Johnson, and the very next house to that in which the doctor was born. Frequently the Royal Crown is combined with other objects, to amplify the meaning, or to express some particular prerogative; such are the CROWN AND CUSHION, being the Crown as it is carried before the king in coronation, and other ceremonies. We even meet with the TWO CROWNS AND CUSHIONs; that is, the Crown for the King and for the Queen, which was the sign of a Mr Arne, an upholsterer in Covent Garden, the hero of several Tatlers and Spectators, and father of the celebrated musician and composer, Dr Arne. This political upholsterer also figures in a farce by Murphy, entitled “The Upholsterer; or what news?” The four Indian princes referred to in Tatler, No. 155, who came to England in the reign of Queen Anne, to implore the help of the British Government against the encroachments of the French in Canada, seem to have lodged in this man's house,—a circumstance frequently alluded to in the papers of the Tatler and other periodicals of the time. The CROWN AND GLOVE refers to the well-known ceremony of the Royal Champion at the Coronation. It occurs as a sign at Stannington, Sheffield, Eastgate Row, South Chester, &c. The ROYAL CHAMPION himself figures in George Street, Oxford. In the Gazetteer for August 20, 1784, we find an anecdote recorded concerning the Royal Champion, which is almost too good to be true —“At the coronation of King William and Queen Mary, the Champion of England dressed in armour of complete and glittering steel; his horse richly caparisoned, and himself, and beaver finely capped with plumes of feathers, entered Westminster Hall while the King and Queen were at dinner. And, at giving the usual challenge to any one that disputed their majesties' right to the crown of England, (when he has the honour to drink the Sovereign's health out of a golden cup, always his fee) after he had flung down his gauntlet on the pavement, an old woman, who entered the hall on crutches, (which she left behind her,) took it up, and made off with great celerity, leaving her own glove, with a challenge in it to meet her the next day at an appointed hour in Hyde Park. This occasioned some mirth at the lower end of the hall: and it was remarkable that every one was too well engaged to pursue her. A person in the same dress appeared the next day at the place appointed, though it was generally supposed to be a good swordsman in that disguise. However, the Champion of England politely declined any contest of that nature with the fair sex, and never made his appearance.”
The CROWN AND SCEPTRE, another of the royal insignia, is named by Misson in the following incident —“Butler, the keeper of the Crown and Sceptre tavern, in St Martin's Lane, told me that there was a tun of red port drunk at his wife's burial, besides mulled white wine. Note.—No men ever goe to women’s burials, nor the women to the men's ; so that there were none but women at the drinking of Butler's wine. Such women in England will hold it out with the men, when they have a bottle before them, as well as upon th' other occasion, and tattle infinitely better than they.”
The CROWN AND MITRE, indicative of royalty and the church, is the sign of a
High Church publican at Taunton; and the BIBLE AND CROWN has for more than a
century and a half been the sign of Rivingtons the publishers. The King and
Parliament are represented by the wellknown CROWN AND WOOLPACK, which at Gedney
Holbeach, in Lincolnshire, has been corrupted into the CROWN AND WOODPECKER. The
CROWN AND TOWER, at Taunton, may refer to the regalia kept in the Tower, or to
the king being “a tower of strength.” A similar symbol seems to be intended in
the CROWN AND COLUMN, Ker Street, Devonport, perhaps implying the strength of
royalty when supported by a powerful and united nation. The CROWN AND ANCHOR,
the well-known badge of the Navy, is a great favourite. One of the most famous
taverns with this sign was in the Strand, where Dr Johnson often used to “make a
night of it.” “Soon afterwards,” says Boswell, “in 1768, he supped at the Crown
and Anchor in the Strand, with a company whom I collected to meet him. There
were Dr Percy, now bishop of Dromore; Dr Douglas, now bishop of Salisbury; Mr
Langton; Dr Robertson, the historian; Dr Hugh Blair, and Mr Thomas Davis.” On
this occasion the great doctor was unusually colloquial, and according to his
amiable custom “tossed and gored several persons.” The famous “Crown and Anchor
Association” against so called Republicans and Levellers—as the reformers were
styled by the ministerial party in 1792–owed its name to this tavern. Its rise
and progress is rather curious: it was undertaken at the instance of Pitt and
Dundas, by John Reeves, a barrister. Reeves, at first, could get no one to join
him, but, to meet the wishes of his employers, used to go to the Crown and
Anchor, draw up some resolutions, pass them nem, con., and sign them John
Reeves, chairman: thus being in his own person, meeting, chairman, and
secretary. In this way they were inserted in all the papers of the three
kingdoms, the expense being no object to the persons concerned. Meetings of the
counties were advertised, but the first, second, and third consisted of Reeves
alone, and it was not till the fourth meeting that he had any coadjutors. The
political effervescence created by this society, its imitations and branches,
form part of the history of the nation. In the year 1800 the Farming Society
proposed to have an experimental dinner in order to ascertain the relative
qualities of the various breeds of cattle in the kingdom; the dinner was planned
and patronised by Sir John Sinclair, and the execution intrusted to Mr Simpkins,
landlord of the Crown and Anchor, who sent a tender of the most Brobdignagian
dinner probably ever heard of Twelve kinds of oxen and sheep of the most famous
breed, eight kinds of pork, and various specimens of poultry, were to bleed as
victims in this holocaust to the devil of gluttony; the fish was only to be from
fresh waters, such as were “entitled to the attention of British farmers;” there
were various kinds of vegetables, nine sorts of bread, besides veal, lamb, hams,
poultry, tarts and puddings, all of which were to be washed down by a variety of
strong and mild ales, stout, cider, Perry, and “British” spirits. Tickets one
The ANCHOR AND CROWN was also the sign of the great booth at Greenwich fair; it was 323 feet long, and 60 feet wide, was used for dancing, and could easily accommodate 2000 persons at a time. The other booths also had signs; amongst them were the ROYAL STANDARD, the LADS OF THE WILLAGE, the BLACK BOY AND CAT, the MOONRAKERS, and others. The CROWN AND DOVE, Bridewell Street, Bristol, may refer to the order of the Holy Ghost, or may have been suggested by the THREE PIGEONS AND SCEPTRE. Objects of various trades, with a crown above them, were very common: the CROWN AND FAN was an ordinary fan-maker's sign.” The CROWN AND RASP, belonging to snuff-makers, occurs as the sign of Fribourg and Treyer, tobacconists, at the upper end of Pall Mall, near the Haymarket, in 1781; it is still to be seen on the façade of the house. The oldest form of taking snuff was to scrape it with a rasp from the dry root of the tobacco plant; the powder was then placed on the back of the hand and so snuffed up; hence the name of répé (rasped) for a kind of snuff, and the common tobacconist's sign of LA CAROTTE D'OR, (the golden root) in France. The rasps for this purpose were carried in the waistcoat pocket, and soon became articles of luxury, being carved in ivory and variously enriched. Some of them, in ivory and inlaid wood, may be seen at the Hôtel Cluny in Paris, and an engraving of such an object occurs in “Archaeologia,” vol. xiii. One of the first snuffboxes was the so-called râpé, or grivoise box, at the back of which was a little space for a piece of the root, whilst a small iron rasp was contained in the middle. When a pinch was wanted, the root was drawn a few times over the iron rasp, and so the snuff was produced and could be offered to a friend with much more grace than under the above-mentioned process with the pocket grater. The CROWN AND LAST originated with shoemakers, but the gentle craft having the reputation of being thirsty souls, it was also adopted as an alehouse sign: we find it as such in 1718:—
ON EASTER Monday, at the Crown and Last at Pimlico (sic) in Chelsea road, a silver watch, value 30 sh, is to be bowled for; three bowls for six pence, to begin at Eight of the clock in the morning and continues till Eight in the evening. N.B.—They that win the watch may have it or 30s.” The CROWN AND HALBERT was, in 1790, the sign of a cutler in St Martin's Churchyard; the CROWN AND CAN occurs in St John Street; and the CROWN AND TRUMPET at Broadway, Worcester: this last may either allude to the trumpet of the royal herald, or simply signify a crowned trumpet. Of the KING's ARMs, and the QUEEN's ARMS, there are innumerable instances; they are to be found in almost every town or village. The story is told that a simple clodhopper once walked ever so many miles to see King George IV. on one of his journeys, and came home mightily disgusted, for the king had arms like any other man, while he had always understood that his majesty's right arm was a lion and his left arm a unicorn. Grinling Gibbons, the celebrated carver and sculptor, lived at the sign of the King's Arms in Bow Street, from 1678 until 1721, when he died. This house is alluded to in the Postman, January 24, 1701-2:—
“On Thursday, the house of Mr Gibbons, the carver in Bow Street, fell down, but by special providence none of the family were killed; but, 'tis said, a young girl which was playing in the court being missed, is supposed to be buried in the rubbish.”
At the Haymarket, corner of Pall Mall, stood the QUEEN'S ARMS tavern, in the reign of Queen Anne. At the accession of George I. it was called the King's Arms, and there, in 1734, the Whig party used to meet to plan opposition to Sir Robert Walpole. This club went by the name of the Rump-steak Club. Faulknert says that at the King's Arms, in the High Street, Fulham, the Great Fire of London was annually commemorated on the 1st of September, and had been continued without interruption until his time. It was said to have taken its rise from a number of Londoners who had been burnt out, and who, having no employment, strolled out to Fulham, on their way collecting a quantity of hazel nuts, from the hedges, with which they resorted to this house. A capital picture of the great conflagration used to be exhibited on that day. In 1568 the prizes of the first lottery held in England were exhibited at the Queen's Arms in Cheapside, the house of Mr Dericke, goldsmith to Queen Elizabeth. There were no blanks, and the prizes consisted of ready money, and “certain sorts of merchandises having been valued and prized.” It had 400,000 lots of 10s. each, and the profits were to go towards repairing the havens of the kingdom. The drawing was at first intended to have taken place at Dericke's house, but finally was done at the west door of St Paul's. The programme of this lottery, printed by Binneman, was exhibited to the Antiquarian Society by Dr Rawlinson in 1748, The next lottery was in 1612. It was drawn on the same plan, and granted by King James, as a special favour, for the establishment of English colonies in Virginia. Thomas Sharpley, a tailor, had the chief prize, which consisted of £4000 of “fair plate.”
“On Friday, April 6,” (1781) says Boswell,” “Dr Johnson carried me to dine at a club, which, at his desire, had been lately formed at the Queen's Arms in St Paul's Churchyard. He told Mr Hoole that he wished to have a City-club, and asked him to collect one ; but, said he, don't let them be patriots. The company were that day very sensible well-behaved men.” This same tavern was also patronised by Garrick. “Garrick kept up an interest in the city by appearing about twice in a winter at Tom's coffeehouse in Cornhill, the usual rendezvous of young merchants at Changetimes; and frequented a club established for the sake of his company at the Queen's Arms Tavern in St Paul's Churchyard, where were used to assemble Mr Samuel Sharpe, the surgeon; Mr Paterson, the City solicitor; Mr Draper, the bookseller; Mr Clutterbuck, a mercer; and a few others: they were none of them drinkers, and in order to make a reckoning, called only for French wines. These were his standing counsel in theatrical affairs.”
Sometimes we meet with the King's or Queen's Arms in very odd combinations; thus in the reign of Queen Anne there was a QUEEN'S ARMS AND CORNCUTTER in King Street, Westminster; the sign of Thomas Smith, who, according to his handbill, (in the Bagford collection,) had, “by experience and ingenuity learnt the art of taking out and curing all manner of corns without any pain;” he also sold “the famous test ware in all England, which never fails curing the toothache in half an hour.” It was customary with those who were “sworn servants to his Majesty,”—i.e., who had the lord chamberlain's diploma, to set up the royal arms beside their sign. The said Thomas, however, does not appear to have had this honour, for not a word about it is mentioned in his bill, so that he must have set up the Queen's Arms merely to blind the public. The name of the person who filled the important office of corncutter to Queen Anne, I am afraid is lost to posterity, but, en revanche, we know who drew King Charles II.'s teeth, for the Rev. John Ward has recorded in his Diary.” “Upon a sign about Fleetbridge this is written,—‘Here lives Peter de la Roch and George Goslin, both which, and no others, are sworn operators to the king's teeth.”
Royal badges, and the supporters of the arms of various kings, were in former
times largely used as signs. The following is a list of the supporters:—
RICHARD II, Two Angels, (blowing trumpets.)
HENRY IV., Swan and Antelope.
HENRY V., Lion and Antelope.
HENRY VI., Two Antelopes.
EDWARD IV., Lion and Bull.
EDWARD V., Lion and Hind.
RICHARD III., Two Boars.
HENRY VII, Dragon and Greyhound.
HENRY VIII., Lion and Dragon.
EDWARD VI., Lion and Dragon.
MARY, Eagle and Lion.
ELIZABETH, Lion and Dragon.
JAMES I., Lion and Unicorn, which have continued ever since.
Of early royal badges an interesting list occurs in Harl. MS., 304, f 12:—
“King Edward the first after the Conquest, sonne to Henry the third, gave a Rose gold, the stalke vert.
“King Edward the iij gave a lyon in his proper coulor, armed azure langued or. The oustrich fether gold, the pen gold, and a faucon in his proper coulor and the Sonne Rising.
“The prince of Wales the ostrich fether pen and all arg.
“Queen Philipe, wyff of Edward the iij". gave the whyte hynd. “Edmond, Duk of York, sonne of Edward the iij, gave the Faucon arg. and the Fetterlock or. “Richard the second gave the White hart, armed, horned, crowned or, and the golden son. “Henry, sonne to the Erl of Derby, first Duk of Lancaster, gave the red rose uncrowned, and his ancestors gave the Fox tayle in his prop. coulor and the ostrich fether ar. the pen ermyn. “Henry the iiij gave the Swan ar. and the antelope. “Henry the v gave the Antelope or, armed, crowned, spotted (?) and horned gold and the Red Rose oncrowned and the Swan silver, crown and collar gold, by the Erldom of Herford. “Henry the vi gave the same that his father gave. “Edward the iiij gave the Whyte Lyon and the Whyte Rose and the Blak Bull uncrowned. “Richard the iij gave the Whyte Boar and the Whyte Rose, the clayes gold. “Henry the seventh gave the hawthorn tree vert and the Porte Cullys and the Red Rose and the Whyte Crowned. “The Ostrych fether silver, the pen gobone sylver and azur, is the Duk of Somerset's bage. “The Shypmast with the tope and sayle down is the bage of . . . . “The Cresset and burnyng fyer is the bage of the Admyralyte. “The Egle Russet with a maydenshead, abowt her neke a Crowne gold, is the bage of the mannor of Conysborow. “The Duk of York's bage is the Faucon and the Fetterlock. “The Whyte Rose by the Castell of Clyfford. “The Black Dragon by the Erldom of Ulster. “The Black Bull horned and clayed gold by the honor of Clare. “The Whyte Hynd by the fayre mayden of Kent. “The Whyte Lyon by the Erldom of Marche. “The ostrych fether silver and pen gold ys the kinges. “The ostrych fether pen and all sylver ys the Prynces. “The ostrych fether sylver, pen ermyn is the Duke of Lancasters. “The ostrych fether sylver and pen gobone is the Duke of Somersets.”
Many of these badges, as will be seen afterwards, have come down on signboards even to the present day. Equally common are the Stuart badges, which were:—
The red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York frequently placed on sunbeams; sometimes the red rose charged with the white.
The rose dimidiated with the pomegranate, symbolical of the connexion between England and Spain by the marriage of Catherine of Arragon; for the same reason the castle of Castille, and the sheaf of arrows of Granada, occur amongst their badges.
The portcullis, borne by the descendants of John of Gaunt, who was born in
Beaufort Castle, whence, pars prototo, the gate was used to indicate the Castle
The falcon and fetterlock, badge of Henry VII, on account of his descent from Edmond of Langley, Duke of York.
The red dragon, the ensign of the famous Cadwaller, the last of the British kings, from whom the Tudors descended.
The hawthorn bush crowned, which Henry VII. adopted in allusion to the royal crown of Richard III. having been found hidden in a hawthorn bush after the battle of Bosworth.
The white falcon crowned and holding a sceptre was the badge of Queen Anna Boleyn, and of Queen Elizabeth her daughter.
The phoenix in flames was adopted by Edward VI. in allusion to his birth, having been the cause of his mother's death; afterwards he also granted this badge to the Seymour family.
In pondering over this class of signs great difficulty often arises from the absence of all proof that the object under consideration was set up as a badge, and not as a representation of the actual animal. As no amount of investigation can decide this matter, we have been somewhat profuse in our list of badges, in order that the reader should be able to form his own opinion upon that subject. Thus, for instance, with the first sign that offers itself, the ANGEL AND TRUMPET, it is impossible to say whether the supporters of Richard II. gave rise to it, or whether it represents Fame. Various examples of it still occur, and a very good carved specimen may be seen above a draper's shop in Oxford Street. It is also the name of alehouses in King Street, Holborn, and in Stepney, High Street, &c.
The ANTELOPE is not very common now, although in 1664 there was a tavern with
this sign in W. Smithfield, the trades token of this house bearing the following
legend:—BIBIs...WINUM. SALUTA. ANTELOP. The Rev. John Ward tells a very feeble
college joke concerning the Antelope Tavern in Oxford:—
“I have heard of a fellow at Oxford, one Ffrank Hil by name, who kept the Antelope; and if one yawned, hee could not chuse but yawne, that vppon a time some schollarshawing stoln his ducks, hee had them to the Vice chancelor, and one of the scholars got behind the Vice chancelor, and when the fellow beganne to speak hee would presently fall a yawning, insomuch that the Vice chancelor turned the fellow away in great indignation.”*
Macklin, the centenarian comedian, who died in 1797, used for thirty years and upwards to visit a public-house called the Antelope in White Hart yard, Covent Garden, where his usual beverage was a pint of stout made hot and sweetened almost to a syrup. This, he said, balmed his stomach, and kept him from having any inward pains.” He died at the age of upwards of 107, a proof that if, as the teetotallers inform us, fermented liquors be a poison, it is certainly a slow one.
The DRAGON appears to have been one of the oldest heraldic charges of this kingdom. It was the standard of the West Saxons, and continued so until the arrival of William the Conqueror, for in the Bayeux tapestry a winged dragon on a pole is constantly represented near the person of King Harold. It was likewise the supporter of the royal arms of Henry VII. and all the Tudor sovereigns except Queen Mary. Before that time it had been borne by some of the early Princes of Wales, and also by several of the kings. Thus it is recorded, 28 Hen. III, the king ordered to be made—
“Unum draconem in modum unius vexilli de quodam rubro sanulo, qui ubique sit
de auro extensillatus, cujus lingua sit facta tamquam ignis comburens et
continue appareat moveatur, et ejus oculi fiant de Sapphiris vel de aliis
lapidibus eidem convenientibus.” +
At the battle of Lewes, 1264, the chronicler says that—
“The king schewed forth his schild his Dragon full austere.”
In that time, however, it appears not to have been the royal standard, but it was borne along with it, for Matthew of Westminster says, “The king's place was between the Dragon and the standard.” Edward III., at the battle of Crescy, also had a standard “with a dragon of red silk adorned and beaten with very broad and fair lilies of gold.” Then, again, it occurs on a coin struck in the reign of Henry VI, and was also one of the badges of Edward IV.
The GREEN DRAGON was of very frequent occurrence on the signboard. When Taylor, the water poet, wrote his “Travels through London,” there were not less than seven Green Dragons amongst the metropolitan taverns of that day. One of these is still in existence, the well-known Green Dragon in Bishopsgate Street, for nearly two centuries one of the most famous coach and carriers’ inns. At present it is simply a public-house.
The RED DRAGON is much less common, whilst the WHITE DRAGON occurs on a trades token of Holborn, representing a dragon pierced with an arrow, evidently some family crest.
The WHITE HART was the favourite badge of Richard II. At a tournament held in Smithfield in 1390, in honour of the Count of St Pol, Count of Luxemburg, and the Count of Ostrevant, eldest son of Albert, Count of Holland and Zealand, who had been elected members of the garter, “all the kynges house were of one sute; theyr cotys, theyr armys, theyr sheldes, and theyr trappours, were browdrid all with whyte hertys, with crownes of gold about their neck, and cheynes of gold hanging thereon, whiche hertys was the kynges leverye that he gaf to lordes, ladyes, knyghtes, and squyers, to knowe his household people from others.” .
The origin of this White Hart, with a collar of gold round its neck, dates from the most remote antiquity. Aristotle reports that Diomedes consecrated a white hart to Diana, which, a thousand years after, was killed by Agathocles, king of Sicily. Pliny: states that it was Alexander the Great, who caught a white stag and placed a collar of gold round its neck. This marvellous story highly pleased the fancy of the mediaeval writers, always in quest of the wonderful. They substituted Julius Caesar for Alexander the Great, and transplanted the fable to western regions, in consequence of which various countries now claim the honour of having produced the white hart, collared with gold. One was said to have been caught in Windsor Forest, another on Rothwell Haigh Common, in Yorkshire, a third at Senlis, in France, and a fourth at Magdeburg. This last was killed by Charlemagne. The same emperor is also reported to have caught a white stag in the woods of Holstein, and to have attached the usual golden collar round its neck. More than three centuries after, in 1172, this animal was killed by Henry the Lion, and the whole story is, to this day, recorded in a Latin inscription on the walls of Lubeck Cathedral.
Amongst the oldest inns which bore this sign, the White Hart, in the High Street, Borough, ranks foremost in historical interest. Here it was that Jack Cade established his headquarters, July 1, 1450. “And you, base peasants, do ye believe him ? Will you needs be hanged with your pardons about your necks? Hath my sword therefore broken through London gates, that ye should leave me at the White Hart in Southwark.”—Henry VI, p. ii. a 1. s. 8. In the yard of that inn he beheaded “one Hawaydyne of Sent Martyns.”* Many and wild must have been the scenes of riot and debauchery enacted in this place during the stay of the reckless rebel. The original inn that had sheltered Cade and his followers, remained standing till 1676, when it was burnt down in the great fire that laid part of Southwark in ashes. It was rebuilt, and the structure is still in existence; in Hatton's time (1708) it could boast of the largest sign in London except one, which was at the Castle Tavern in Fleet Street. Charles Dickens has immortalised the White Hart Inn, by a most lifelike description in his “Pickwick Papers.”
The White Hart Tavern, in Bishopsgate, is also of very respectable antiquity. It has the date 1480 in the front. Standing on the boundary of the old hospital of Bethlehem, it is probable that this building formed part of that religious house. Doubtless it was the hostelry or inn for the entertainment of strangers, which was a usual outbuilding belonging to the great hospitals in those days.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth there was a White Hart Inn in the Strand, mentioned in a copy of an indenture of lease, from the Earl of Bedford to Sir William Cecil (7th September 1570) of a portion of pasture in Covent Garden, “beinge thereby devyeded from certayne gardens belonginge to the Inne called the Whyte Heart, and other Tenements scituate in the high streate of Westm’ comunly called the Stronde.” It is not improbable that this inn gave its name to Hart Street and White Hart Yard, in that neighbourhood.
There was another inn of this name in Whitechapel, connected with the name of a rather curious character, Mrs Mapp, the female bone-setter. “On Friday, several persons who had the misfortune of lameness, crowded to the WHITE HART Inn in Whitechapel, on hearing Mrs Mapp, the famous bonesetter, was there. Some of them were admitted to her, and were relieved as they apprehended. But a gentleman who happened to come by declared Mrs Mapp was at Epsom, on which the woman thought proper to move off.” The genuine Mrs Sarah Mapp was a female bone-setter, or “shape mistress,” the daughter of a bonesetter of Hindon, Wilts. Her maiden name was Wallis. It appears that she made some successful cures before Sir Hans Sloane, in the Grecian Coffee-house. For a time she was in affluent circumstances, kept a carriage and four, had a plate of ten guineas run for at the Epsom races, where she lived, frequented theatres, and was quite the lion of a season. Ballads were made upon her, songs were introduced on the stage, in which the “Doctress of Epsom ” was exalted to the tune of Derry Down; in short, she was called the “Wonder of the Age.” But, alas ! the year after all this éclat, we read in the same Grub Street Journal, that had recorded all her greatness—“December 22, 1737. Died last week at her lodgings, near the Seven Dialls, the much-talked of Mrs Mapp, the bonesetter, so miserably poor, that the parish was obliged to bury her.” Sic transit gloria mundi /
Lastly, we must mention the White Hart, at Scole, in Norfolk, as most of all
bearing upon our subject, for that inn had certainly the most extensive and
expensive sign ever produced. It is mentioned by Sir Thomas Brown, March 4,
1663/4—“About three miles further, I came to Scoale, where is a very handsome
inne, and the noblest sighnepost in England, about and upon which are carved a
great many stories as of Charon and Cerberus, Actaeon and Diana, and many
others; the signe itself is a White Hart, which hanges downe carved in a stately
wreath.” A century later, it is again mentioned. Speaking of Osmundestone, or
Scole, Blomefield says—“Here are two very good inns for the entertainment of
travellers. The White Hart is much noted in these parts, being called by way of
distinction Scole Inn; the house is a large brick building adorned with imagery
and carved work in several places, as big as the life; it was built in 1655 by
James Peck, Esq., whose arms impaling his wife's are over the porch door. The
sign is very large, beautified all over with a great number of images of large
stature carved in wood, and was the work of Fairchild; the arms about it are
those of the chief towns and gentlemen in the county.” “There was lately a very
round large bed, big enough to hold 15 or 20 couples, in imitation (I suppose)
of the remarkable great bed at Ware. The house was in all things accommodated at
first for large business; but the road not supporting it, it is much in decay at
present.” A correspondent in Notes and Queries says:—“I think the sign was not
taken down till after 1795, as I have a recollection of having passed under it
when a boy, in going from Norwich to Ipswich.”
We obtain full details of this wonderful erection from an engraving made in 1740, entitled:—
“The North East side of y" sign of ye White Heart at Schoale Inn in Norfolk, built in the year 1655 by James Peck, a merchant of Norwich, which cost £1057. Humbly Dedicated to James Betts, Gent, by his most ob" serv", Harwin Martin.”
The sign passed over the road, resting on one side on a pier of brickwork, and joined to the house on the other; its height was sufficient to allow carriages to pass beneath. Its ornamentation was divided into compartments, which contained the following subjects according to the numbers in the engraving:–1. Jonah coming out of the fish's mouth. 2. A Lion supporting the arms of Great Yarmouth. 3. A Bacchus. 4. The arms of Lindley. 5. The arms of Hobart. 6. A Shepherd playing on his pipe. 7. An Angel supporting the arms of Mr Peck's lady. 8. An Angel supporting the arms of Mr Peck. 9. A White Hart [the sign itself] with this motto,-‘‘IMPLENTUR VETERIS BACCHI PINGUISQUE FERINAE. ANNO DOM. 1655.” 10. The arms of the Earl of Yarmouth. 11. The arms of the Duke of Norfolk. 12. Neptune on a Dolphin. 13. A Lion supporting the arms of Norwich. 14. Charon carrying a reputed Witch to Hades. 15. Cerberus. 16. A Huntsman. 17. Actaeon [addressing his dogs with the words “ACTAEON EGO suM, DOMINUM COGNoSCITE VESTRUM.”] 18. A White Hart couchant [underneath, the name of the maker of the sign, Johannes Fairchild, struxit.] 19. Prudence. 20. Fortitude. 21. Temperance. 22. Justice. 23. Diana. 24. Time devouring an infant [underneath, “TEMPUs EDAx RERUM.”] 25. An Astronomer, who is seated on a “circumferenter, and by some chymical preparations is so affected that in fine weather he faces that quarter from which it is about to come.” There is a ballad on this sign in “Songs and other Poems,” by Alexander Brome, Gent. London, 1661, p. 123.
This herd of whiteharts has led us over a large tract of ground, but we will now return to other royal badges, and note the HAWK AND BUCKLE, which occurs in Wrenbury, Nantwich, Cheshire; Etwall, Derby; and various other places. This is simply a popular rendering of the Falcon and the Fetterlock, one of the badges of the house of York. The HAWK AND BUCK, which appears to be only another version of the last corruption, occurs at Pearsly Sutton Street, St Helens, Lancashire; the FALCON AND HORSE-SHOE, a sign in Poplar in the seventeenth century, (see Trades' Tokens) may have had the same origin, whilst the BULL AND STIRRUP, in Upper Northgate, Chester, probably comes from the Bull and Fetterlock, another combination of badges of the house of York.
From this family are also derived the BLUE BOAR and the WHITE BOAR. One of the badges of Richard, Duke of York, father of Edward IV., was “a blewe Bore with his tuskis and his cleis and his membres of gold.” The heraldic origin of this sign, of which there are still innumerable instances all over England, is now so completely lost sight of, that in many places it passes under the ignoble appellation of the BLUE PIG. The WHITE BOAR was the popular sign in Richard the Third's time, that king's cognizance being a boar passant argent, whence the rhyme which cost William Collingborne his life —
“The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell our Dogge,
Rulen all England vnder an Hogge.”
The fondness of Richard for this badge appears from his wardrobe accounts for the year 1483, one of which contains a charge “for 8000 bores made and wrought upon fustian,” and 5000 more are mentioned shortly afterwards. He also established a herald of arms called Blanc Sanglier, and it was this trusty squire who carried his master's mangled body from Bosworth battle-field to Leicester.
After Richard's defeat and death the White Boars were changed into Blue
Boars, this being the easiest and cheapest way of changing the sign; and so the
Boar of Richard, now painted “true blue,” passed for the Boar of the Earl of
Oxford, who had largely contributed to place Henry VII. on the throne. Even the
White Boar Inn at Leicester, in which Richard passed the last night of his
royalty and of his life, followed the general example, and became the Blue Boar
Inn, under which sign it continued until taken down twenty-five or thirty years
ago. The bed in which the king slept was preserved, and continued for many
generations one of the curiosities shewn to strangers at Leicester. It was said
that a large sum of money had been discovered in its double bottom, which the
landlord himself quietly appropriated. The discovery, however, got wind, and his
widow was killed and robbed by some of her guests, in connivance with a
They carried away seven horse-loads of treasure. This murder was committed in 1605.”
The sign of the White Boar, however, did not become quite extinct with the overthrow of the York faction, for we find it still in 1542, as appears from the following title of a very scarce book — “David's Harp full of most delectable harmony newly strung and set in Tune by Thos. Basilley" Lord Cobham. Imprinted at London in Buttolp lane at y, sign of y” White Boar by John Mayler for John Gough, 1542.”
The FIREBEACON, a sign at Fulston, Lincolnshire, was a badge of Edward IV., and also of the Admiralty. The HAWTHORN, or HAWTHORNBUSH, which we meet in so many places, may be Henry VII.'s badge, but various other causes may have contributed to the popularity of that sign, such as the custom of gathering bunches of hawthorn on the first of May. Magic powers, too, are attributed to this plant. “And now,” says Reginald Scott, “to be delivered from witches themselves they hange in their entrees an hearb called pentaphyllon, cinquefole, also an oliue branch, also franckincense, myrrh, valerian veruen, palme, anterihmon, &c.; also Haythorne, otherwise whitethorne, gathered on Maiedaie,” &c.:
The GUN, or CANNON, was the cognizance of King Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. In the beginning of the eighteenth century it was of such frequent occurrence that the Craftsman, No. 638, observed—“Nothing is more common in England than the sign of a cannon.” Sarah Milwood, the “wanton” who led George Barnwell astray, lived, according to the ballad, in Shoreditch, “next door unto the Gun.” At the present day it is still a great favourite. In the neighbourhood of arsenals its adoption is easily explained.
About eighty years ago there was a famous Cannon Coffeehouse at the corner of Trafalgar Square, at the end of Whitcombe Street or Hedgelane; its site is now occupied by the Union Club. From this coffeehouse Hackman saw Miss Ray drive past on her way to Covent Garden Theatre, when he followed and shot her as she was entering her coach after the performance. The Gun was also a sign with many booksellers, as in the case of Edward White at the Little North Door of St Paul's Church, 1579; Thomas Ewster in Ivy Lane, 1649; Henry Brome, at the West End of St Paul's Churchyard, 1678, and various others.
The SWAN was a favourite badge of several of our kings, as Henry IV., Edward III. At a tournament in Smithfield the last king wore the following rather profane motto —
“Hay, hay, the wyth Swan,
By God's soule I am thy man.”
Thomas Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, used the same cognizance; whence Gower styles him “cignus de corde benignus;” whilst Cecily Nevil, Duchess of York, mother of Edward IV. and Richard III., likewise had a swan as supporter of her arms. The sign of the SWAN AND MAIDENHEAD, at Stratford-onAvon, may have originated in one of the royal badges; for we find that in 1375 the Black Prince bequeathed to his son Richard his hangings for a hall, embroidered with mermen, and a border of red and black empaled, embroidered with swans having ladies' heads.” The SwAN AND FALCON (two badges of Edward III.) was a sign in Hereford, in 1775, as appears from the following advertisement:—
“IN a Day and a Half twice a week, continues flying from the Swan and Falcon,
in Hereford, Monday and Thursday mornings; and from the Bolt-in-Tun, in Fleet
Street, London, Monday and Thursday evenings. "are 19s.; outsides
half.”—Hereford Journal, January 12, 1775.
The SWAN AND WHITE HART may have been originally the Swan and Antelope, supporters of the arms of Henry IV, but as it at present stands two distinct royal badges are represented. This sign occurs on a trades-token of St Giles in the Fields, in the second half of the seventeenth century.
The RISING SUN was a badge of Edward III, and forms part of the arms of Ireland; but the Sun Shining was a cognizance of several kings. Various other causes may have led to the adoption of that luminary as a sign.
Lions have been at all times, and still continue, greater signboard favourites than any other heraldic animals. The lion rampant most frequently occurs, although in late years naturalism has crept in, and the felis leo is often represented standing or crouching, quite regardless of his heraldic origin. The lion of the signboard being seldom seen passant, it is more than probable that it was not derived from the national coat of arms, but rather from some badge, either that of Edward III. or from the WHITE LION of Edward IV. Though silver in general was not used on English signboards yet, the White Lion was anything but uncommon. Several examples occur amongst early booksellers. Thus in 1604 the “Shepherd's Calendar” was “printed at London by G. Elde, for Thomas Adams, dwelling in Paule's Churchyarde, at the signe of the White Lion.” In 1652 we meet with another bookseller, John Fey, near the New Exchange; and about the same period John Andrews, a ballad printer, near Pye Corner, who both had the sign of the White Lion. For inns, also, it was mot an uncommon decoration. Thus the White Lion in St John's Street, Clerkenwell, was originally an inn frequented by cattle-drovers and other wayfarers connected with Smithfield market. Formerly it was a very extensive building, two of the adjoining houses and part of White Lion Street, all being built on its site. The house now occupied by an oilshop was in those days the gateway to the inn-yard, and over it was the sign, in stone relief, a lion rampant, painted white, inserted in the front wall. It still remains in its original position, with the date 1714, when it was probably renewed. Pepys's cousin, Anthony Joyce, drowned himself in a pond behind this inn. He was a tavern-keeper himself, and kept the THREE STAGs at Holborn, (a house of which tokens are extant.) Heavy losses by the fire of 1666 preyed upon his mind. He imagined that he had not served God as he ought to have done, and in a moment of despair committed the rash act. We have another, and not uninteresting instance, of this sign. “Sir Thomas Lawrence's father kept the White Lion Hotel at Bristol. He afterwards removed to the Bear, at Devizes, where he failed in business. It seemed that it was this last speculation in hotel-keeping which ruined him, with reference to which local wits used to say, “It was not the Lion but the Bear that eat him up.”—Bristol Times, June 4, 1859.
Since pictorial or carved signs have fallen into disuse, and only names given, the SILVER LION is not uncommon, though in all probability simply adopted as a change from the very frequent Golden Lion. Thus there is one in the High Street, Poplar; in the London Road, and Midland Road, Derby; in the Lilly Road, Luton, Herts, &c. The Red Lion is by far the most common; doubtless it originated with the badge of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, married to Constance, daughter of Don Pedro the Cruel, king of Leon and Castille. The duke bore the lion rampant gules of Leon as his cognizance, to represent his claim to the throne of Castille, when that was occupied by Henry de Transtamare. In after years it may often have been used to represent the lion of Scotland.
The Red Lion Inn at Sittingbourne is a very ancient establishment. A new landlord, who entered circa 1820, issued the following advertisement:—
William WHITAKER having taken the above house, most respectfully solicits the custom and support of the mobility and gentry, &c., &c. “The antiquity of the inn, and the respectable character which it has in history are recorded as under:—
“Sittingbourne, in Kent, is a considerable thoroughfare on the Dover Road, where there are several good inns, particularly the Red Lion, which is remarkable for an entertainment, made by Mr John Norwood, for King Henry the Fifth, as he returned from the battle of Agincourt, in France, in the year 1415, the whole amounting to no more than Nine Shillings and Ninepence. Wine being at that time only a penny a pint, and all other things being proportionably cheap. P.S.—
The same character in a like proportionate degree Wm. Whitaker hopes to obtain by his moderate charges at the present time.”
Red Lion Square, Holborn, was called after an inn known as the Red Lion. “Andrew Marvell lies interred under ye pews in the south side of St Giles church in ye Fields, under the window wherein is painted on glasse, a red lyon, (it was given by the Inneholder of the Red lyon Inne, Holborn.)”
Another celebrated tavern was the Old Red Lion, St John's Road, Islington,—which has been honoured by the presence of several great literary characters. Thomson, of the “Seasons,” was a frequent visitor; Paine, the author of the “Rights of Man,” lived here; and Dr Johnson, with his friends, are said often to have sat in the parlour. Hogarth introduced its gable end in his picture of Evening.
The BLACK LION is somewhat uncommon; it may have been derived from the coat of arms of Queen Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III. We find an example of it in the following advertisement:—
“A T THE UNION SOCIETY at the Black Lion against Short's Garden in Drury
Lane, a Linen Draper's, on Thursday, the 21st past, was opened three offices of
Insurance on the birth of Children, by way of dividend. At the same place there
is two offices for marriages,” &c.
In this advertisement we touch upon the joint-stock mania then raging. Newspapers of the time teemed with advertisements of insurance companies of all sorts: the above paper, with less than a dozen advertisements, offers four schemes, by which on payment of 10s. per week £1000 were eventually to be received !
Among the badges of the Tudors, Henry VII, and Henry VIII. left us the still common sign of the PORTCULLIS. “A portcullis, or porte-coulisse, is French for that wooden instrument or machine, plated over with iron, made in the form of a harrow or lozenge, hung up with pullies in the entries of gates or castles, to be let down upon any occasion.”—Anstis Garter.
It is the principal charge in the arms of the city of Westminster, and is to be seen everywhere within and without the beautiful chapel of Henry VII, whose favourite device it was as importing his descent from the house of Lancaster. It was also one of the badges of Henry VIII., with the motto, Securitas Altera, and occurs on some of his coins.
To this same family we also owe the ROSE AND CROWN, which sign, at the
present day, may be observed on not less than forty-eight public-houses in
London alone, exclusive of beer-houses. One of the oldest is in the High Street,
Knightsbridge, which has been licensed above three hundred years, though not
under that name, for anciently it was called the OLIVER CROMWELL. The
Protector's bodyguard is said to have been quartered here, and an inscription to
that effect was formerly painted in front of the house, accompanied by an
emblazoned coat of arms of Cromwell, on an ornamental piece of plaster work,
which last is all that now remains of it. It is the oldest house in Brompton,
was formerly its largest inn, and not improbably the house at which Sir Thomas
Wyatt put up, while his Kentish followers rested on the adjacent green. Corbould
painted this inn under the title of “The Old Hostelrie at Knightsbridge,”
exhibited in 1849, but he transferred its date to 1497, altering the house
according to his own fancy.
During the persecutions, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, of booksellers suspected as publishers of the mysterious Martin Marprelate tracts, we find one Bogue, at the loyal sign of the Rose and Crown, in St Paul's Churchyard, who fell into the category of the suspected, and who was so severely persecuted that he was almost ruined by it.
One more royal, or rather princely badge remains to be mentioned,—The FEATHERS, PRINCE OF WALES’ FEATHERs, occasionally varied to the PRINCE OF WALES ARMS. Ostrich feathers were from a very early period among the devices of our kings and princes. King Stephen, for instance, according to Guillim, bore a plume of ostrich feathers with the motto:—VI NULLA INVERTITUR ORD0, No force alters their fashion, meaning that no wind can ruffle a feather into lasting disorder. Not only the Black Prince, but also Edward III., himself and his sons, bore ostrich feathers as their cognizances, each with some distinction in colour or metal. The badge originally took the form of a single feather. John Ardern, physician to the Black Prince, who is the first to mention the derivation of the feathers from the King of Bohemia, says:—
“Et nota quod talem pennam albam portabat Edwardus primogenitus filius Edwardi regis super crestam suam, et illam pennam conquisivit de rege Boemiae, quem interfecit apud Cresse in Francia, et sic assumpsit sibi illam pennam quae dicitur ostrich feather, quam prius dictus rex nobilis. simus portabat super crestam.””
“And observe that such a white feather was borne on his crest by Edward the eldest son of K. Edward; and this feather he conquered from the King of Bohemia whom he killed at Cressy in France, and so he assumed the feather, called the ostrich feather, which that most noble king had formerly worn on his crest.”—Sloane MSS. No. 56.
The feather, also, is drawn in the margin of the MS. as single, and in that shape, too, it is represented on the Black Prince's tomb.
This feather, however, appears only to have been an ornament on the helmet of
King John of Bohemia. A contemporary Flemish poem, quoted by Baron van
Reiffenberg, thus describes his heraldic crest —
“Twee ghiervogelen daer aen geleyt Die al vol bespringelt zyn Met Linden bladeren gult fyn, Deze is, as in merken kan Van Bohemen Koninck Jan.”
Added to this were two vultures, sprinkled all over with finely-gilt linden leaves. Therefore I know this is King John of Bohemia.
And in that shape it also occurs on the King's seal. More difficulties are offered by the motto: Hou MoET ICH DIEN, for so it is in full,—the Black Prince himself wrote it after this fashion in a letter dated April 25, 1370. The last two words in German mean “I serve,” but no explanation is given of the remainder, “Hou moet.” Since no mottos in two languages occur, we must look for a language which can account for both parts of the motto; and thus in Flemish we find these words to mean, “Keep courage, I serve,” or, in less concise language, “Keep courage, I serve with you, I am your companion in arms;” and though no parentage has as yet been found for this motto, it may not improbably have been derived from the Black Prince's maternal family, since his mother, Queen Philippa of Hainault, was a Flemish princess.
Amongst the many shops which took the feathers for their sign we find the following noted in an advertisement —
“THE LATE Countess of Kent's powder has been lately experimented upon divers infected persons with admirable success. The virtues of it against the Plague and all malignant distempers are sufficiently known to all the Physicians of Christendom, and the Powder itself prepared by the only person living that has the true Receipt, is to be had at the third part of the ordinary price at Mr Calvert's, at the Feathers in the old Pall Mall near St James's,” &c.
This, and other advertisements announcing equally efficacious panacea, appeared daily in the London papers during the plague of 1665. De Foe, in his little chronicle of the plague, often speaks of these quack medicines.
Less dismal images are called up by “the Feathers at the side of Leicester Fields,” which sign was evidently complimentary to its neighbour Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II., who lived at Leicester House, “the pouting house of princes,” when on bad terms with his father, and died there in 1751. The back parlour of this tavern was for some years the meeting place of a club of artists and well-known amateurs, amongst whom Stuart, the Athenian traveller; Scott, the marine painter; Luke Sullivan, the miniature artist, engraver of the March to Finchley; burly Captain Grose, author of the “Antiquities of England,” and the greatest wit of his day; Mr Hearne, the antiquary; Nathaniel Smith, the father of J. T. Smith; Mr John Ireland, then a watchmaker in Maidenlane, and afterwards editor of Boydell's edition of Dr Trusler's “Hogarth Moralised,” and several others. When this house was taken down to make way for Dibdin's theatre, called the Sans-souci, the club adjourned to the COACH AND HORSEs, in Castle Street, Leicester Fields. But, in consequence of the members not proving customers sufficiently expensive for that establishment, the landlord one evening venturing to let them out with a farthing candle, they betook themselves to Gerard Street and thence to the BLUE POSTs in Dean Street, where the club dwindled to two or three members and at last died out.
An amusing anecdote is told about the Feathers, Grosvenor Street West. A lodge of Oddfellows was held at this house, into the private chamber of which George, Prince of Wales, one night intruded very abruptly with a roystering friend. The society was, at the moment, celebrating some of its awful mysteries, which no uninitiated eye may behold, and these were witnessed by the profane intruders. The only way to repair the sacrilege was to make the Prince and his companion “Oddfellows,” a title they certainly deserved as richly as any members of the club. The initiatory rites were quickly gone through, and the Prince was chairman for the remainder of the evening. In 1851 the old public-house was pulled down and a new gin palace - built on its site, in the parlour of which the chair used by the distinguished Oddfellow is still preserved, along with a portrait of his Royal Highness in the robes of the order.
Among the badges and arms of countries and towns, the national emblem the
ROSE is most frequent, and has been so for centuries. Bishop Earle observes, “If
the vintner's Rose be at the door it is sign sufficient, but the absence of this
is supplied by the ivy-bush.” Hutton, in his “Battle of Bosworth,” says that
“upon the death of Richard III., and the consequent over-throw of the York
faction, all the signboards with white roses were pulled down, and that none are
to be found at the present day.” This last part of the statement, we believe, is
true, but that the White Roses were not all immediately done away with appears
from the fact that, in 1503, a White Rose Tavern was demolished to make room for
the building of Henry VII.'s chapel in Westminster; that tavern stood near the
chapel of Our Lady, behind the high altar of the abbey church. At present,
however, as the rose on the signboard represents in the eye of the public simply
the Queen of Flowers,—its heraldic history having been forgotten long ago,-it is
painted any colour according to taste, or occasionally gilt. Long after the
famous battles between the White and Red Roses had ceased, the custom was
continued of adding the colour to the name of the sign. Thus, in Stow, “Then
have ye one other lane called Rother Lane, or Red Rose Lane, of such a sign,”
&c. In Lancashire we meet, in one or two instances, with the old heraldic
flower, as at Springwood, Chadderton, Manchester, where the RED ROSE OF
LANCASTER is still in full bloom on a publican's signboard.
Skelton’s “Armony of Byrdes” was “imprynted at Londo' by John Wyght dwellig in Poule's Church yarde at the sygne of the Rose.” Machyn, in his Diary, mentions many instances:—“The vij day of Aprill (1563) at seint Katheryns beyond the Toure, the wyff of the syne of the Rose, a tavarne, was set on the pelere for ettyng of rowe flesse and rostyd boyth,” which in our modern English means that she was put in the pillory for breaking fast in Lent.
The Rose Tavern in Russell Street, Covent Garden, was a noted place for debauchery in the seventeenth century; constant allusions are made to it in the old plays. “In those days a man could not go from the Rose Tavern to the Piazzi once but he must venture his life twice.”—Shadwell, the Scowrers, 1691. “Oh no, never talk on’t. There will never be his fellow. Oh! had you seen him scower as I did ; oh! so delicately, so like a gentleman How he cleared the Rose Tavern l’—Ibid. In this house, November 14, 1712, the duel between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun was arranged, in which the latter was killed. In the reign of Queen Anne the place was still a great resort for loose women; hence in the “Rake Reformed,” 1718–
“Not far from thence appears a pendant sign,
Whose bush declares the product of the vine,
Where to the traveller's sight the full-blown Rose
Its dazzling beauties doth in gold disclose,
And painted faces flock in tallied cloaths.”
Hogarth has represented one of the rooms of the house in his “Rake's Progress.” In 1766 this tavern was swallowed up in the enlargements of Drury Lane by Garrick, but the sign was preserved and hung up against the front wall, between the first and second floor windows.”
Two other Roses, not without thorns, are mentioned by Tom Brown —
“Between two Roses down I fell,
As 'twixt two stools a platter;
One held me up exceeding well,
Th' other did no such matter.
The Rose by Temple Bar gave wine
Exchanged for chalk, and filled me,
But being for the ready coin,
The Rose in Wood Street killed me.”
The “Rose by Temple Bar” stood at the corner of Thanet Place. Strype says it was “a well customed house, with good conveniences of rooms and a good garden.” Walpole mentions a painted room in this tavern in his letters of January 26 and March 1, 1776. The Rose in Wood Street was a spunging-house : “I have been too lately under their [the Bayliffs'] clutches, to desire any more dealings with them, and I cannot come within a furlong of the Rose spunging-house without five or six yellow boys in my pocket to cast out those devils there, who would otherwise infallibly take possession of me.”—Tom Brown's Works, iii. p. 24.
Innumerable other Rose inns and taverns might be mentioned, but we will conclude with noting the Rose Inn at Wokingham, once famous as the resort of Pope and Gay. There was a room here called “Pope's room,” and a chair was shown in which the great little man had sat. It is also celebrated in the well-known song of Molly Mog, attributed to Gay, and printed in Swift's “Miscellanies.” “This cruel fair, who was daughter of John Mog, the landlord of that inn, died a spinster at the age of 67. Mr Standen of Arborfield, who died in 1730, is said to have been the enamoured swain to whom the song alludes. The current tradition of the place is, that Gay and his poetic friends having met upon some occasion to dine at the Rose, and being detained within doors by the weather, it was proposed that they should write a song, and that each person present should contribute a verse : the subject proposed was the Fair Maid of the Inn. It is said that by mistake they wrote in praise of Molly, but that in fact it was intended to apply to her sister Sally, who was the greater beauty. A portrait of Gay still remains at the inn.” The house at present is changed into a mercer's shop.
Sometimes the Rose is combined with other objects, as the ROSE AND BALL, which originated in the Rose as the sign of a mercer, and the Ball as the emblem or device which silk dealers formerly hung at their doors like the Berlin wool shops of the present day. The ROSE AND KEY was a sign in Cheapside in 1682. This combination looks like a hieroglyphic rendering of the phrase, “under the rose,” but the key is of very common occurrence in other signs, as will be seen presently.
The Scotch THISTLE AND CROWN is another not uncommon national badge, adopted mostly by publicans of North British origin. The CROWN AND HARP is less frequent ; there is one at Bishop's Cleeve, Cheltenham. Of the CROWN AND LEEK we know only one example, viz., in Dean Street, Mile End; but since both the rose and thistle are crowned, why not the leek also ? It is “a wholesome food,” according to Fluellen, and would no doubt look just as well under a crown as in a Welshman's cap. The SHAMROCK also is of common occurrence, but we have never seen it combined with the Crown.
Among heraldic signs referring to towns are the BIBLE AND THREE CROWNs, the coat of arms of Oxford, which was not uncommon with the booksellers in former times. To one of them, probably, belonged the carved stone specimen walled up in a house at the corner of Little Distaff Lane and St Paul’s Churchyard. Such a sign is also mentioned in a rather curious advertisement in the Postboy, September 27, 1711 —
THIS IS to give notice That ten Shillings over and above the Market price will be given for the Ticket in the £1,500,000 Lottery, No. 132, by Nath. Cliff at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside.”
The Spectator in his 191st number took occasion from this advertisement to write a very amusing paper on the various lottery superstitions with regard to numbers.
There is also an OXFORD ARMS Inn in Warwick Lane, Newgate Street; a fine, old, galleried inn, with exterior staircases leading to the bed-rooms. This was already a carriers' inn before the fire, as appears from the following advertisement:—
‘THESE ARE to give notice that Edward Barlet, Oxford Carrier, hath removed his Inn in London from the Swan at Holborn Bridge, to the Oxford Arms in Warwick Lane, where he did inne before the fire. His coaches and waggons going forth on their usual days, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He hath also a hearse with all things convenient to carry a corps to any part of England.”
The BUCK IN THE PARK, Curzon Street, Derby, is the vermacular rendering of the arms of that town, which are—a hart cumbant on a mount, in a park paled, all proper. The THREE LEGs was the sign of a bookseller named Thomas Cockerill, over against Grocer's Hall, in the Poultry, about 1700. Sometimes his house is designated on his publications as the THREE LEGS AND BIBLE. These three legs were the Manx arms. It is still a not uncommon alehouse sign. There is one, for instance, in Call Lane, Leeds, which is known to the lower classes under the jocular denomination of “the kettle with three spouts.”
County arms also are sometimes represented on the signboards; as the FIFTEEN BALLS, (which refer to the Cornish arms, fifteen roundles arranged in triangular form) at Union Street, Bodmin, Cornwall; ONE AND ALL, the motto of the county of Cornwall, occurs at Cheapside, St Heliers, Jersey; and in Market Jew Street, Penzance. This motto has, besides the advantage of being a hearty appeal to all the thirsty sons of Bacchus, and will call to the mind of a thoughtful toper, the relative position of one and many, or all, as explained by the al fresco artists, who decorate the pavement in Piccadilly—“Many can help one, one cannot help many.” The STAFFORDSHIRE KNOT is common in the pottery districts; besides these almost every county is represented by its own arms, such as the NORTHUMBERLAND ARMS, &c., but about these nothing need be said.
The THREE BALLS of the pawnbrokers are taken from the lower part of the coat of arms of the Dukes of Medici, from whose states, and from Lombardy, nearly all the early bankers came. These capitalists also advanced money on valuable goods, and hence gradually became pawnbrokers. The arms of the Medici family were five bezants azure, whence the balls formerly were blue, and only within the last half century have assumed a golden exterior, evidently to gild the pill for those who have dealings with “my uncle;” as for the position in which they are placed, the popular explanation is that there are two chances to one that whatever is brought there will not be redeemed.
The LION AND CASTLE, of which there are a few instances, (Cherry Garden Stairs, Rotherhithe, for example,) need not be derived from royal marriage alliances with Spain, as it may simply have been borrowed from the brand of the Spanish arms on the sherry casks, and have been put up by the landlord to indicate the sale of genuine Spanish wines, such as sack, canary, mountain.
The FLOWER DE LUCE was a frequent English sign in old times, either taken from the quartering of the French arms with the English, or set up as a compliment to private families who bear this charge in their arms or as crest. The preface of “Edyth, the lying widow,” ends with these words:—
“In the cyte of Exeter by West away
The time not passed hence many a day,
There dwelled a yoman discret and wise,
At the siggne of the Flower de lyse
Which had to name John Hawkyn.”
Tokens are extant of an inn at Dover, in the seventeenth century, with the sign of the FRENCH ARMS, a tavern name sufficiently common also in London at that period to attract the travellers from across the Channel. Thus James Johnson was a goldsmith, “that kept running cash,”—i.e., a banker, in Cheapside, in 1677, living at the sign of the THREE FLOWER DE LUCES.” In the fifteenth century, Gascon merchants and other strangers in London were allowed to keep hostels for their countrymen, and, in order to get known, they most likely put up the arms of those countries as their signs. No doubt the THREE FROGs, London Road, Wokingham, is a travesty of Johnny Crapaud's Arms.
Boursault, in his letter to Bizotin, has a burst of indignation at a “fournisseur” of something or other to the royal family, who had adopted as his sign the ENGLISH ARMS, with the arms of France in the first quarter, and endeavours to call down the ire of the Parisian police upon the head of the unfortunate shopkeeper who had committed this act of treason — “Laissons l'Angleterre se repaitre de chimères,” saith he, “et s'imaginer que ses souverains sont Rois de France, mais que des Français soyent assez ignorants, ou assez mauvais sujets, pour mettre les armes de France écartelés dans celles d’Angleterre, c'est ce que des sujets aussi zélez que Monsieur d'Argenson et les autres officiers préposez pour la police ne doivent nullement souffrir.”
"Let England amuse herself with idle fancies, and imagine that her kings are kings of France; but that there be Frenchmen who are ignorant enough, or bad subjects enough, to quarter the arms of France with those of England, that is a thing which such zealous subjects as M. d'Argenson, and the other police magistrates, ought by no means to permit.”
He next, in a threatening manner, reminds the poor shopkeeper how, according to
“Candem [sic] Historien Angloys,” Queen Mary Stuart was beheaded for having
quartered the English arms with those of Scotland, though she was the
heir-presumptive of the English throne; and if such was the fate of that queen,
what then did the man deserve who quartered the arms of his sovereign with those
of a foreign king? Indeed he deserved the same fate as the arms. Another sign,
apparently of French origin, is the DOLPHIN AND CROWN, the armorial bearing of
the French Dauphin, and the sign of R. Willington, a bookseller in St Paul's
Churchyard circa 1700. Some years after, this house seems to have been occupied
by James Young, a famous maker of violins and other musical instruments, who
lived at the west corner of London House
Yard, St Paul's Churchyard. On this man the following catch appeared in the
Pleasant Musicall Companion, 1726 —
“You scrapers that want a good fiddle well strung,
You must go to the man that is old while he's Young;
But if this same fiddle you fain would play bold,
You must go to his son, who's Young when he's old.
There's old Young and young Young, both men of renown:
Old sells and young plays the best fiddle in town.
Young and old live together, and may they live long—
Young to play an old fiddle, old to sell a new song.”
This Young family afterwards removed to the QUEEN’S HEAD Tavern in Paternoster Row, where in a few years they grew rich by giving concerts, when they removed to the CASTLE in the same street. The Castle concerts continued a long time to be celebrated. Many signs are exceedingly puzzling under the name by which they pass with the public. Such was that of “Rowland Hall, dwelling in Guttur Lane, at the sygne of the HALF EAGLE AND KEY.” This quaint sign is no other than the arms of Geneva, described in the non-heraldic language of the mob. Rowland Hall, a bookseller and printer, lived as a refugee in Geneva during the reign of Queen Mary; hence on his return to London he set up the arms of that town for his sign, as a graceful compliment to the hospitality he had received, and as a tribute of admiration to stanch Protestantism. Hall, at other periods of his life, lived at the CRADLE in Lombard Street, and at the THREE ARROWS in Golden Lane, Cripplegate. In 1769 there was again the GENEVA ARMS among the London signs, before the shop of Le Grand, a “pastery-cook and cook,” as he styled himself, in Church Street, Soho. Formerly most pastry-cooks and confectioners were Swiss, and many from that country still follow those professions in Italy, Spain, and recently in England. This last sign has found imitators in Soho; for at the present day it figures at a public-house in Hayes Court, where it is put up, no doubt, in honour of the spirit which many call Geneva, but which we may name Gin. The origin of this name, as applied by publicans, is not a little curious. In Holland the juniperberry is used for flavouring the gin or hollands which they distil there, and this, with the vulgar in that country, has gradually become corrupted from Juniper to Jenever, the latter term being still further corrupted here to Geneva, and Gin.
The CROSS KEYs are the arms of the Papal See, the emblem of St Peter and his successors:—
“Two massy keys he bore, of metals twain;
The golden opes, the iron shuts amaine.”
This sign was frequently adopted by innkeepers and other tenants of religious houses, even after the Reformation; for the Cross Keys figure in the arms of the Bishops of York, Cashel, Exeter, Gloster, and Peterborough. At the Cross Keys in Gracechurch Street, where Tarlton, the comic actor, went to see fashions, Banks used to perform with his wonderful bay horse before a crowded house. This was in the days of Queen Elizabeth, when the inn consisted of a large court with galleries all round, which, like many other old London inns, was often used as an extempore theatre by our ancestors. It is named in 1681 amongst the carriers' inns, and is in existence at the present day.
The Cross Keys was the sign of a tavern near Thavies Inn in 1712:
“May the Cross Keys near Thavies Inn succeed,
And famous grow for choicest white and red;
That all may know, who view that costly sign,
Those golden keys command celestial wine.”
The Quack Vintners. A Satire. 1712.
Besides, it is famous as the sign of Bernard Lintot, 1736, the publisher of Gay's works, and many other popular books of that day. His shop was situated between the Temple Gates, in Fleet Street. The CROSS KEYS AND BIBLE was the sign of J. Bell, in Cornhill, 1711. Most numerous among heraldic signs were the crests, arms, and badges of private families. The causes which dictated the choice of such subjects were various. One of the earliest was this:—
“In towns the hospitality of the burghers was not always given gratis, for it was a common custom even amongst the richer merchants to make a profit by receiving guests. These letters of lodgings were distinguished from the innkeepers or hostelers by the name of herbergeors, or people who gave harbour to strangers, and in large towns they were submitted to municipal regulations. The great barons and knights were in the custom of taking up their lodgings with those herbergeors rather than going to the public hostel, and thus a sort of relationship was formed between particular nobles or kings and particular burghers, on the strength of which the latter adopted the arms of their habitual lodgers as their sign.””
This, again, led to the custom of prefixing to inns the arms of men of note who had sojourned in the house, as may be seen in Machyn's Diary:—“The xxv day of January  toke ys gorney into Franse, inbassadur to the Frenche kyng, the yerle of Bedford and he had iij dozen of logyng skochyons,” (lodging escutcheons). Thus, on the road from London to Westchester the coats of arms of several of the lord-lieutenants of Ireland might formerly have been observed, either as signs to inns or else framed and hung in the best rooms. That this was a general custom with ambassadors appears from Sir Dudley Digge's “Compleat Ambssador,” 1654; who, alluding in his preface to the reserve of English ambassadors, observes:—“We have hardly any notion of them but their arms, which are hung up in inns where they passed.” Montaigne also mentions this practice as usual in France —“A Plombières il me commanda a la faveur de son hostesse, selon l’humeur de la nation, de laisser un escusson de ses armes en bois, qu'un peintre dudict lieu fist pour un escu; et le fist l'hostesse curieusement attacher a la muraille pas dehors.”
At Plombières he ordered me to leave with his hostess, according to the fashion of the country, an escutcheon of his arms in wood, which a painter of that town made for a crown and the hostess had it carefully hung upon the wall outside the house.”
But the feudal relations between the higher
and lower classes contributed above all to the adoption of this description of
signs. A vassal, for instance, would set up the arms or crest of his
feudal lord; a retired soldier the arms of the knight under whose banneret he
had gathered both glory and plunder; an old servant the badge he had worn when
he stood at the trencher, or followed his master in the chase; and, doubtless,
many publicans adopted for their sign the badge of the neighbouring wealthy
noble, in order to court the custom of his household and servants. Bagford, in
his MS. notes about the art of printing,” has jotted down a list of signs
originated from badges, which we will transcribe in all the unrestrained freedom
of Bagford's spelling, in which, as well as in bad writing, he surpassed all his
“Then for ye original of signes used to be set over ye douers of tradesmen, as Inkepers, Taverns, etc., thay hauing been domestic saruants to some nobleman, thay leauing ther Masters saruis toke to themselves for ther signes ye crest, bag,t or ye arms of ther Ld., and thes was a destincsion or Mark of one Mannes house from anouther, and [not] only by printers but all outher trades: and these seruants of kinges, queenes, or noblemen, being ther domestick saruants, and wor ther Leuirst and Bages, as may be sene these day ye maner of the Leuirs and Bagges by ye wattermen —
The ANTELOP was ye bag of Kg. Henery ye 8, as wel as ye porculouses § and ye Rose and Crown.
ANCOR, Gould, ye Ld. of Lincolne and ye Lord High Admirall.
BULL, Black, with gould hornes, ye House of Clarence.
BULL, Dun, ye Lord Nevill, Westmoreland, Burgayne, Latimer, and Southamton.
BOUR: White, ye Lord Winsor; Blew with a Mullit, ye Earle of Oxford.
BUCKET and CHANE, ye Lord Wills.
BARE and RAGGED STAFFE, ye Earle of Lester.
BARE, Black, ye Earle of Warwicke.
BARE, White, ye Earle of Kent.
BEARS HEAD Muscled, ye Lord Morley.
ROE BUCK, ye Lord Montacute.
BULLs HEAD erased: White, ye Ld. Wharton;
Red, ye Lord Ogle.
CRESCENT or HALFE MOUNE, ye Earle of Northumberland and ye Tem. poralati.
CoNDY, black, ye Ld. Bray.
CAT, ye Lord Euers;
Cat of Mount and Leper, Mar. of Worster and ye Ld. Buckhurst.
CROSSEs and MITTERS, and CROSS KEYES, Archbishop and Bishopes, Abbots.
CARDINALES CAPES or HAT, you have not meney of them, the war set up by sume that had ben seruants to Tho. Wollsey.
Black, Wilsher" and Clifford; Red, Cumberland; Greene, ye Earle of Pembrocke.
EAGLE, ye Earle of Cambridge; EAGEL AND CHILDE, ye Earle of Derby; Black, ye Lord Norris.
EAGLE, sprede, ye Emperour.
ELEPHANT, Sr. Ffrances Knowles, (and Henery Wyke, a printer, liuing in Fletstrete, 1570, was saruant to Sr. Ffr. Knowles, gaue ye Elephant for his signe,) and likwise it was ye bag of ye Lord Beamont and ye Ld. Sandes.
PHENIX, ye Lord Hertford, and ye sign that etc.*
FFOX, Red, Gloster and ye Bishop of Winchester.
FFALCOLNE, ye Marquess of Winchester; armed and collered, ye Ld. StJohn and Ld. Zouch.
GRIPEs FFoot, ye Ld. Stanley.
GOTTE, ye Earle of Bedford.
GRAYHOND, ye Ld. Clenton, Druery, and ye Lord Rich.t
GRIFFEN, ye Ld. Wintworth.
HARPE, for Irland.
HEDGE-Hog, Sr. Henery Sidney; Will. Seeres was his printer.
HIND, Sr. Christopher Haton; Hen. Beneyman his printer.
LOCK, ye House of Suffolcke. Such a sign without Temple Bar.
LION, Bleu, Denmarke.
LION, Red, Rampant, Scotland.
LION, White, Pasant, ye Earl of March.
LION, White, Rampant, Norfolk and all ye Hawardes.
MAIDEN HEAD, ye Duck of Buckingam.
PORTCULLIS, ye Earle of Somerset, Wayles, and ye Lord of Worster.
THE PYE, ye Ld. Reuiers:
PELICAN, ye Lord Cromwell.
PECOCKE, ye Earle of Rutland.
PLUM of FFEATHERs, ye Earle of Lincolne; azure, ye Lord Scrope.
RAUEN, White, ye Earle of Comberland.
RAUEN, Blacke, ye King of Scots.
SWANE, ye Ducke of Buckingham, Gloster, Hartford, Hunsdon, Stafford.
SUNE, ye Spirituallaty, ye Lord Willoby and York.
STAFFE: White Ragged, Warwick; Black, Kent.
STARRE, ye Earle of Sussen and ye Lord Ffitzwalter.
SARASON HEAD, ye Ld. Audley and ye Ld. Cobham.
TALBOT, ye Earl of Shrewsbury and ye Lord Mountagew.
TIGERS HEAD, Sr. Ffrancis Walsingam.
WHETE-SHEAFE, ye Earle of Exeter, ye Lord Burley, etc.
APE, clogged, ye House of Suffolcke.
BUTTERFLIE, white, ye Lord Audle.
CAMEL, ye Earle of Worster.
YE 3 FLUER DE LUSEs, ye King of France.
FOOLES HEAD, ye Earle of Bath.
GRAYHOND, ye Ld. Clinton; white, ye fameley of ye Druries.
GRAYHoNDES HEAD, ye Lord Rich.
HART, White, Kg. Richard ye 2 and Sir Walter Rowley."
HORSE, White, ye Earle of Arondele. HoRNEs, 2 of selwer,f ye Ld. Cheney.
MILSALE or WINDMIL, ye Lord Willobe.
ROSE IN YE SUNBEAMs, ye Ld. Wardon of ye 8 ports.
UNICORNE, White, ye Ld. Windsor.
The arms of the lord of the manor were often put up as a sign, —a custom that has continued to our day, particularly in villages, where the inn invariably displays the name or coat-armour of the ground-landlord, whose steward once or twice in the year meets at the house the tenantry with their rents and land dues. Should the estate pass into other hands, the inn will most probably change its sign for the arms of the new purchaser. The house, as it were, wears the livery of the master, although, so far as heralds' visitations are concerned, this may be as unauthorised as many other advertisements of noble descent, or gentle extraction, in use amongst the wealthy and the proud.
In ancient times, as we
have seen, the great landowners performed the duties of innkeepers, and their
arms were hung or carved at the entrances to the castles, as indications to
wayfarers who was the lord and master in those parts. The keep in those days was
rarely without a stranger or two, either travelling mechanics or persons
acquainted with mysteries,—as trades and professions were termed in those
days,—or vagabond soldiers on the tramp for a new master to fight under. Greater
people were admitted further in the castle, but the common sort fared with the
servants. According to the good-nature of the all-powerful lord was the fare
good or bad, plentiful or meagre. It was, however, generally the custom in those
early times to be profuse in all matters of food-bounty. The house-steward made
charges for any extras, and the comfort obtainable generally depended on the
liberality or greediness of these personages. As population increased,
travellers became too numerous for the accommodation provided. Stewards also
became old, and detached premises were given or built for them to carry on the
business away from the castle or great house. The arms of the landlord were of
course put up outside the house, and on occasion of predatory excursions or
family fights, when other nobles joined their troops with those of the landlord,
the soldiers were usually quartered at the
inn outside the castle. As in all cases of public resort, people soon began to
have fancies, and this Red Lion and that Greyhound became famous through the
country for the good entertainment to be had there. In this manner Red Lions and
Greyhounds found their way on to the signboards of the inns within the walled
cities. The men of the castle, too, used those houses bearing their master's
arms when they visited the town. It will be readily seen that the name of a
favourite tavern would quickly suggest its adoption elsewhere, and in this way
the heraldic emblem of a family might be carried where that family was neither
known nor feared.
Latterly, however, as all traces of the origin and meaning of these “Arms” have died out, or become removed from the understanding of publicans and brewers, the uses to which the word has been applied are most absurd and ridiculous. Not only do we meet constantly with arms of families nobody ever heard of, nor cares to hear about, but all sorts of impossible “Arms” are invented, as JUNCTION ARMS, GRIFFIN'S ARMS, CHAFFCUTTER's ARMs, UNION ARMS,” GENERAL's ARMS, ANTIGALLICAN ARMS, FARMERS ARMS, DROVERS ARMs, &c.,
In tavern heraldry the ADAM'S ARMS ought certainly to have the precedence: the publicans generally represent these by a pewter pot and a couple of crossed tobacco pipes, differing in this from Sylvanus Morgan, a writer on heraldry, who says that Adam's arms were “Paly Tranchy divided every way and tinctured of every colour.” The shield was in the shape of a spade, which was used
“When Adam delved and Eve span,”
whilst from the spindle of our first mother the female lozenge shaped shield is said to be derived.
One of the most popular heraldic signs is
the BEAR AND
RAGGED STAFF, the crest of the Warwick family:—
“War. Now, by my father's badge, old Nevil's crest,
The rampant bear chain'd to the ragged staff,
This day I’ll wear aloft my burgonet.”
Henry VI, Part II. a. v. s. 1.
Arthgal, the first Earl of Warwick, in the time of King Arthur, was called by the ancient British the Bear, for having strangled such an animal in his arms; and Morvidius, another ancestor of this house, slew a giant with a club made out of a young tree; hence the family bore the Bear and Ragged Staff.
“When Robert Dudley was governor in the Low Countries with the high title of his Excellencie, disusing his own coat of the Green Lion with two tails, he signed all instruments with the crest of the Bear and Ragged Staff. He was then suspected by many of his jealous adversaries to hatch an ambitious design to make himself absolute commander (as the lion is king of beasts) over the Low Countries. Whereupon some—foes to his faction and friends to the Dutch freedom—wrote under his crest set up in public places —
‘Ursa caret cauda, non queat esse leo.'
‘The Bear he never can prevail
To lion it for lack of tail.’
Which gave rise to a Warwickshire proverb, in use at this day,—
The Bear wants a tail and cannot be a Lion.”
The Bear and Ragged Staff is still the sign of an inn at Cumnor, to which an historic interest is attached owing to its connexion with the dark tragedy of poor Amy Robsart, who in this very house fell a victim to that stony-hearted adventurer, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Sir Walter Scott has introduced the house in the first chapter of “Kenilworth.” The power the Warwick family once enjoyed gave this sign a popularity which has existed to the present day, though the race of old Nevil, and the kings he made and unmade, have each and all passed away. Its heraldic designation has been better preserved than is the case of some other signs; only in one instance, at Lower Bridge Street, Chester, it has been altered into the BEAR AND BILLET. Sometimes the sign of the Bear and Ragged Staff, we may inform the reader, is jocularly spoken of as the Angel and Flute.
The RAGGED STAFF figures also in single blessedness. A carriers' inn in West Smithfield possessed this sign in 1682. In the wall of a house at the corner of Little St Andrew Street and West Street, St Giles, there is still a stone bas-relief sign of two ragged staves placed salterwise, with the initials S. F. G., and the date 1691. It was doubtless put there as a compliment to Robert Sydney, Earl of Leicester, who in the reign of Charles II. built Leicester House, which gave a name to Leicester Fields, now the site of Leicester Square. Stow mentions that the king-maker, Richard Warwick, came to town for the convention of 1458, accompanied by 600 men, all in red jackets, “embroidered with ragged staves before and behind.”
Equally well known with the last sign is that of the EAGLE AND CHILD, occasionally called the BIRD AND BANTLING, to obtain the favourite alliteration. It represents the crest of the Stanley family, and the following legend is told to account for its origin:—In the reign of Edward III, Sir Thomas Latham, ancestor of the house of Stanley and Derby, had only one legitimate child, a daughter named Isabel, but at the same time he had an illegitimate son by a certain Mary Oscatell. This child he ordered to be laid at the foot of a tree on which an eagle had built its nest. Taking a walk with his lady over the estate, he contrived to bring her past this place, pretended to find the boy, took him home, and finally prevailed upon her to adopt him as their son. This boy was afterwards called Sir Oscatell Latham, and considered the heir to the estates. Compunction or other motive, however, made the old nobleman alter his mind and confess the fraud, and at his death the greater part of the fortune was left to his daughter, who afterwards married Sir John Stanley. At the adoption of the child, Sir Thomas had assumed for crest an eagle looking backwards; this, out of ill feeling towards Sir Oscatell, was afterwards altered into an eagle preying upon a child. How matters were afterwards arranged may be seen in “Memoirs containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of the House of Stanley,” p. 22. Manchester, 1767. Bishop Stanley made an historical poem upon the legend, which is not without parallel, and seems to be either a corruption of or suggested by the fable of Ganimede. Edward Stanley, in his “History of Birds,” (vol. i. p. 119) cites several similar stories. But the Stanley family is not the only one that bears this crest. Randle Holme (b. iii. p. 403) gives the arms of the family of Culcheth of Culcheth as “an infant in swaddling-clothes proper, mantle gules, swaddle band or, with an eagle standing upon it, with its wings expanded sable in a field argent.” “The fause fable of the Lo. Latham” is also told at length, with slight variations from the usual story, in a MS. in the College of Arms; in this version the foundling is made the son of an Irish king. The Eagle and Child occurs as the sign of a bookseller, Thomas Creede, in the old Exchange, as early as 1584. Taylor the water-poet also names some instances of the sign among inns and taverns, and particularly extols one at Manchester:— “I lodged at the Eagle and the Child, Whereas my hostesse (a good ancient woman) Did entertain me with respect not common, She caused my linnen, shirts, and bands be washt, And on my way she caused me be refresht; She gave me twelve silke points, she gave me baken, Which by me much refused at last was taken. In troath she proued a mother unto me, - For which I ever more will thankefull be.”
Another crest of the Derby family also occurs as a sign—namely, the EAGLE's Foot, which was adopted in the sixteenth century by John Tysdall, a bookseller at the upper end of Lombard Street. The frequency of eagles in heraldry made them very common on the signboard, although it is now impossible to say whose armorial bearings each particular eagle was intended to represent. The SPREAD EAGLE occurs as the sign of one of the early printers and booksellers, Gualter Lynne, who, in the middle of the sixteenth century, had two shops with that sign,-one on Sommer's Key, near Billingsgate, and another next St Paul's Wharf. In 1659 there was a BLACK SPREAD EAGLE at the west end of St Paul's, which shop was also a bookseller's, one Giles Calvert. As the signs in large towns and cities were generally not altered when the house changed hands, it is not improbable but that this may be the same Black Eagle mentioned by Stow in the following words:—
“During a great
tempest at sea, in January 1506, Philip, King of Castille, and his queen, were
weather-driven at Falmouth. The same tempest blew down the Eagle of brass off
the spire of St Paul's Church in London,
and in the falling the same eagle broke and battered the Black Eagle that hung
for a sign in St Paul's Churchyard.”
Milton's father, a scrivener by trade, lived in Bread Street, Cheapside, at the sign of the Spread Eagle, which was his own coat of arms, and in this house the great author of “Paradise Lost” was born, December 9, 1608. When the poet's fame had gone forth, strangers used to come to see the house, until it was destroyed by the fire of 1666. Perhaps its memory is preserved in Black Spread Eagle Court, which is the name of a passage in that locality. Another Spread Eagle was a noted “porter-house” in the Strand at the end of the last century:—
“And to some noted porter-house repair;
The several streets or one or more can claim,
Alike in goodness and alike in fame.
The Strand her Spreading Eagle justly boasts.
Facing that street where Venus holds her reign,
And Pleasure's daughters drag a life of pain,”
There the Spread Eagle, with majestic grace,
Shows his broad wings and notifies the place.
There let me dine in plenty and in quiet.”
The GRASSHOPPERS on the London signboards were all descendants of Sir Thomas Gresham's sign and crest, which is still commemorated by the weather-vane on the Royal Exchange, of which he was the first founder. The original sign appears to have been preserved up to a very recent date.
“The shop of the great Sir Thomas Gresham,” says Pennant, “ stood in this [Lombard] street: it is now occupied by Messrs Martin, bankers, who are still in possession of the original sign of that illustrious person—the Grasshopper. Were it mine, that honourable memorial of so great a predecessor should certainly be placed in the most ostentatious situation I could find.”
The ancients used the grasshopper as a fascinum, (fascination, enchantment;) for this purpose Pisistratus erected one as a xarazhyn before the Acropolis at Athens; hence grasshoppers, in all sorts of human occupations, were worn about the person to bring good luck. The grasshopper sign certainly seems to have been a lucky one. Charles Duncombe and Richard Kent, goldsmiths, lived at the Grasshopper in Lombard Street, (no doubt Gresham's old house) in 1677,” and throve so well under its fascinum that Duncombe gathered a fortune large enough to buy the Helmsley estate in Yorkshire from George Williers, Duke of Buckingham. The land is now occupied by the Earl of Feversham, (Duncombe's descendant) under the name of Duncombe Park.
It is impossible to determine whether the MAIDENHEAD was set up as a compliment to the Duke of Buckingham, to Catherine Parr, or to the Mercers' Company, for it is the crest of the three. But at all events the Mercers' crest had the precedence as being the oldest. Amongst the badges of Henry VIII, it is sometimes seen issuing out of the Tudor Rose:—
“This combination,” Willement says, “does not appear to have been an entire new fancy, but to have been composed from the rose-badge of King Henry VIII, and from one previously used by this queen's family. The house of Parr had before this time assumed as one of their devices a maiden's head couped below the breast, vested in ermine and gold, the hair of the head and the temples encircled with a wreath of red and white : and this badge they had derived from the family of Ros of Kenal.
It was a sign used by some of the early printers. On the last page of a little work entitled “Salus Corporis, Salus Animae,” we find the following imprint:—
“Hos eme Richardus quos Fax impressit ad unguem calcographus summa sedulitate libros. Impressum est presens opusculum londiniis in divi pauli semiterio sub virginei capitis signo. Anno millesimo quin getesimo nono. Mensis vero Decembris die xii.”
Buy these books, which Richard Fax the printer has printed with the wedge,
with the greatest care. This little book was printed at London, in St Paul's
the Maidenhead, in the year 1509, on the 12th of December."
Thomas Petit, another early printer, also lived “at the sygne of the Maydenshead in Paulis Churchyard,” 1541. He was probably a successor of Richard Fax. An amusing anecdote is told of old Hobson, the Londoner, with regard to this sign:—
“Maister Hobson having one of his Prentices new come out of his time, and being made a free man of London, desired to set up for himself; so, taking a house not far from St Laurence Lane, furnished it with store of ware, and set up the signe of the Maydenhead; hard by was a very rich man of the same trade, had the same signe, and reported in every place where he came, that the young man had set up the same signe that he had onely to get away his customers, and daily vexed the young man therewithall, who, being grieved in his mind, made it known to Maister Hobson, his late Maister, who, comming to the rich man, said, ‘I marvell, sir, (quoth Maister Hobson,) ‘why you wrong my man so much as to say he seketh to get away your customers.’ ‘Marry, so he doth,” (quoth the other,) “for he has set up a signe called the Maidenhead, and mine is.’ ‘That is not so,' (replied Maister Hobson,) “for his is the widdoe's head, and no maydenhead, therefore you do him great wrong. The rich man hereupon, seeing himself requited with mocks, rested satisfied, and never after that envied Maister Hobson's man, but let him live quietly.”
This sign occurs occasionally as the MAID's HEAD, but since Queen Elizabeth's reign it has doubtless frequently referred to the virgin queen.
THE CROSS FOXES—i.e., two foxes counter saliant—is a common sign in some parts of England. It is the sign of the principal inn at Oswestry in Shropshire, and of very many public-houses in North Wales, and has been adopted from the armorial bearings of Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, Bart, whose family hold extensive possessions in these parts. The late baronet, too, made himself very popular as a patron of agricultural improvements. Old Guillim, the heraldic writer's remarks upon this coat of arms, which he says belongs to the Kadrod Hard family of Wales, are quaint:— “These are somewhat unlike Samson's foxes that were tied together by the tails, and yet these two agree in aliquo tertio : They came into the field like to enemies, but they meant nothing less than fight, and therefore they pass by each other, like two crafty lawyers, which come to the Bar as if they meant to fall out deadly about their clients' cause; but when they have done, and their clients' purses are well spunged, they are better friends than ever they were, and laugh at those geese that will not believe them to be foxes, till they (too late) find themselves foxbitten.”
The TIGER'S HEAD was the sign of the house of
Christopher and Robert Barker, Queen Elizabeth's booksellers and printers, in
Paternoster Row : it was borrowed from their crest ; their shop exhibited the
sign of the Grasshopper, in St Paul's Churchyard. They came of an ancient
family, being descended from Sir Christopher Barker, knight, king-at-arms, in
the reign of Henry VIII. Barker is said to have printed the first series of
English news-sheets, or, as we now call them, newspapers. The
earliest of those which remain (copies are preserved among Dr Birch's Historical Collections in the British Museum, No. 4106) relate to the descent of the Spanish Armada upon the English coasts; but as they are numbered 50, 51, and 54 in the corner of their upper margins, it has been not improbably concluded that a similar mode of publishing news had been resorted to considerably earlier than the date of that event, though, as far as we know, none of the papers have been preserved. The title is:—
THE. ENGLISH MERCURIE, published by authoritie, for the prevention of false reports;”
and the last number contains an account of the queen's thanksgiving at St Paul's for the victory she had gained over the enemies of England. It is probable that when the great alarm of the Armada had subsided, no more numbers were published. The colophon runs —
“Imprinted by Christopher Barker, her highnesse's printer, July 23, 1588.”
It must not however be concealed that doubt is entertained of the genuineness of these papers. Two of them are not of the time, but printed in modern type; and no originals are known : the third is in manuscript of the eighteenth century, altered and interpolated with changes in old language, such only as an author would make. The punning device, or printer's emblem, of Barker was a man barking a tree, representations of which may be seen on the titles and last leaves of many of the old folio and quarto Bibles and New Testaments issued from his press. His descendants continued booksellers to the royal family until January 12, 1645, when Robert Barker, the last of the family, died a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench. His misfortunes were probably occasioned by the embarrassments of his royal master, who for three years had been at war with the Parliament and a majority of his subjects.
Various other booksellers sold their books under the sign of the Tiger's Head in St Paul's Churchyard: apparently they succeeded each other in the same house. Thus we find Toby Cook, 1579–1590; Felix Kingston, 1599; and Henry Seile, 1634.
At Nortwich and Altringham,
Chester, there is a sign called the BLEEDING WOLF, which has not been found
anywhere else. Its origin is difficult to explain, and the only explanation that
can be immediately offered for it is the crest of Hugh Lupus and Richard, first
and second Earls of Chester, which was a wolf's head erased; the neck of the
animal being erased may, by primitive sign-painters, have been represented less
conventionally than is done now, and probably exhibited some of the torn parts,
whence the name of the Bleeding Wolf. As for the use of the term “wolf,” instead
of “wolf's head,” we have a parallel instance in one of the gates of Chester,
which, from this crest, was called Wolfsgate instead of Wolfshead Gate. There is
another equally puzzling sign, peculiar to this county and to Lancashire—
namely, the BEAR'S PAW. Of this sign, it must be confessed that no explanation
can be offered; it certainly looks heraldic, and lions jambs erased are the
crest of many families.
Easy enough to explain is the sign of PARTA TUERI, (Cellarhead, Staffordshire) which is the motto of the Lilford family: this is the only instance as yet met with of a family motto standing for a sign; though in Essex a public-house sign, representing a sort of Bacchic coat of arms, with the motto, IN VINO VERITAS, may be seen. The OAKLEY ARMS, at Maidenhead, near Bray, deserves passing mention, on account of some amusing verses connected with the place. As it is frequently the custom with publicans to choose for their sign the name or picture of some real or imaginary hero connected with the locality in which their house stands, the following verses were written on the Oakley Arms, near Bray:—
“Friend Isaac, 'tis strange you that live so near Bray
Should not set up the sign of the Vicar.”
Though it may be an odd one, you cannot but say
It must needs be a sign of good liquor.”
“Indeed, master Poet, your reason's but poor,
For the Vicar would think it a sin
To stay, like a booby, and lounge at the door,"
'Twere a sign 'twas bad liquor within.”
The WENTWORTH ARMS, Kirby Mallory, Leicestershire, may also be mentioned on account of its peculiar inscription, which has a strange moral air about it, as if a pious Boniface drew beer and uncorked wine, and wished to compromise matters on high moral grounds, and limit with puritanical rigidity the government regulation above his door, “to be Drunk on the Premises”:—
“May he who has little to spend, spend nothing in drink;
May he who has more than enough, keep it for better uses.”
May he who goes in to rest never remain to riot,
And he who fears God elsewhere never forget him here.”
Other heraldic animals, different from those just mentioned, belong to so many various families, that it is utterly impossible to say in honour of whom they were first set up : such, for instance, is the GRIFFIN, the armorial bearing of the Spencers, and innumerable other houses. Besides being an heraldic emblem, the griffin was an animal in whose existence the early naturalists firmly believed. Its supposed eggs and claws were carefully preserved, and are frequently mentioned in ancient inventories and lists of curiosities. “They shewed me,” [in a church at Ratisbonne,] says Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in one of her letters, “a prodigious claw, set in gold, which they called the claw of a griffin; and I could not forbear asking the reverend priest that shewed it, whether the griffin was a saint ? The question almost put him beside his gravity, but he answered, “They only kept it as a curiosity.” The supposed eggs (no doubt ostrich eggs) were frequently made into drinking cups. The Tradescants had one in their collection, kept in countenance by an egg of a dragon, two feathers of the tail of a phoenix, and the claw of a ruck, “a bird able to trusse an elephant.” Sir John Mandeville gives the natural history of the griffin, in his “Right Merveylous Travels,” chap. xxvi. From him we learn that the body of this dreadful beast was larger and stronger than “8 lions or 100 eagles,” so that he could with ease fly off to his nest with a great horse, or a couple of oxen yoked together, “for,” says he, “he has his talouns so large and so longe, and so gret upon his feet as thowghe thei weren hornes of grete oxen, or of bugles or of kijgn.”
In the original edition of the Spectator, No. xxxiii.," the griffin is mentioned as the sign of a house in Sheer Lane, Temple Bar. The advertisement begins oddly enough —“Lost, yesterday, by a Lady in a velvet furbelow scarf, a watch,” &c. The GOLDEN GRIFFIN was a famous tavern in Holborn, of which there are trades tokens extant of the seventeenth century. Tom Brown talks of a “fat squab porter at the Griffin Tavern, in Fulwood's rents,” which is the same house, as appears from Strype:—“At the upper end of this court is a passage into the Castle Tavern, a house of considerable trade, as is the Golden Griffin Tavern, on the west side, which has a passage into Fulwood's rents,” (Book iii., p. 253.)
The variously-coloured lions come under the same category of heraldic animals. Amongst them the GOLDEN LION stands foremost. A public-house with that sign in Fulham ought not to be passed unnoticed; it is one of the most ancient houses in the village, having been built in the reign of Henry VII. The interior is not much altered; the chimney-pieces are in their original state, and in good preservation. Formerly there were two staircases in the thick walls, but they are now blocked up. Tradition says that the house once belonged to Bishop Bonner, and that it has subterraneous passages communicating with the episcopal palace. When the old hostelry was pulled down in 1836, a tobacco-pipe of ancient and foreign fashion was found behind the wainscot. The stem was a crooked bamboo, and a brass ornament of an Elizabethan pattern formed the bowl of the pipe. This pipe Mr Crofton Croker” tries to identify as the property of Bishop Bonner, who, on the 15th June 1596, died suddenly at Fulham, “while sitting in his chair and smoking tobacco.” If Mr Croker be right, this inn should also have been honoured by the presence of Shakespeare, Fletcher, Henry Condell, (Shakespeare's fellow actor) John Norden, (author of A Description of Middlesex and Hertfordshire) Florio, the translator of Montaigne, and divers other notabilities.
The BLUE LION is far from uncommon, and may possibly have been first put up at the marriage of James I, with Anne of Denmark. The PURPLE LION occurs but once—namely, on a trades token of Southampton Buildings.
Signs borrowed from Corporation arms form the last subdivision of this chapter. Such, for instance, is the THREE COMPASSES, a change in the arms of both the carpenters and masons. This sign is a particular favourite in London, where not less than twenty-one public-houses make a living under its shadow. Perhaps this is partly owing to the compasses being a masonic emblem, and a great many publicans “worthy brethren.” Frequently the sign of the compasses contains between the legs the following good advice —
“Keep within compass,
And then you'll be sure,
To avoid many troubles
That others endure.”
Three Compasses were a frequent sign with the French, German, and Dutch printers of the sixteenth century. The Three Compasses, Grosvenor Row, Pimlico, a well-known starting point for the Pimlico omnibuses, was formerly called the GOAT AND COMPASSES, for which Mr P. Cunningham suggests the following origin:—
“At Cologne, in the church of S. Maria di Capitolio, is a flat stone on the floor, professing to be the ‘Grabstein der Bruder und Schwester eines Ehrbahren Wein und Fass Ampts, Anno 1693. That is, as I suppose, a vault belonging to the Wine Cooper's Company. The arms exhibit a shield with a pair of compasses, an axe, and a dray or truck, with goats for supporters. In a country like England, dealing so much at one time in Rhenish wine, a more likely origin for such a sign could hardly be imagined.”
Others have considered the sign a corruption of a puritanical phrase, “God encompasseth us.” But why may not the Goat have been the original sign, to which mine host added his masonic emblem of the compasses, a practice yet of frequent occurrence.
The GLOBE AND COMPASSES seems to have originated in the Joiners' arms, which are a chevron between two pairs of compasses and a globe. It occurs, amongst other instances, as the sign of a bookseller, in the following quaint title:—
“Sin discovered to be worse than a Toad; sold by Robert Walton, at the Globe and Compasses, at the West end of Saint Paul's Church.”
The THREE GOATSHEADs, a public-house on the Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, was originally the Cordwainers' (shoemakers) arms, which are azure, a chevron or, between three goats' heads, erased argent. Gradually the heraldic attributes have fallen away, and the goats' heads now alone remain. As there were rarely names under the London signs, the public unacquainted with heraldry gave a vernacular to the objects represented.
Thus the THREE LEOPARDS
HEADS is given on a token as the name of a house in Bishopsgate; yet the token
represents a chevron between three leopards' heads, the arms of the Weavers'
Company. The sign of the Leopard's Head was anciently called the Lubber's Head.
Thus in the second part of Henry IV, ii. 1, the hostess says that Falstaff “is
indited to dinner at the Lubbar's Head in Lumbert Street, to Master Smooth's the
silkman.” “Libbard,” vulgo “lubbar,” was good old English for leopard.
The GREEN MAN AND STILL is a common sign. There is one in White Cross Street, representing a forester drinking what is there called “drops of life” out of a glass barrel. This is a liberty taken with the Distillers' arms, which are a fess wavy in chief, the sun in splendour, in base a still; supporters two Indians, with bows and arrows. These Indians were transformed by the painters into wild men or green men, and the green men into foresters; and then it was said that the sign originated from the partiality of foresters for the produce of the still. The “drops of life,” of course, are a translation of aqua vitae.
The THREE TUNs were derived from the Wintners, or the Brewers' arms. On the 9th of May 1667, the Three Tuns in Seething Lane was the scene of a frightful tragedy:—
“In our street,” says Pepys, “at the Three Tuns Tavern, I find a great hubbub; and what was it but two brothers had fallen out, and one killed the other. And who should they be but the two Fieldings. One whereof, Bazill, was page to my Lady Sandwich, and he hath killed the other, himself being very drunk, and so is sent to Newgate.”
There seems to have been a kind of fatality attached to this sign, for the London Gazette for September 15-18, 1679, relates a murder committed at the Three Tuns, in Chandos Street, and in this same house, Sally Pridden, alias Sally Salisbury, in a fit of jealousy stabbed the Honourable John Finch in 1723. Sally was one of the handsomest “social evils” of that day, and had been nicknamed Salisbury, on account of her likeness to the countess of that name. For her attempt on the life of Finch she was committed to Newgate, where she died the year after, “leaving behind her the character of the most notorious woman that ever infested the hundreds of old Drury.”f Her portrait has been painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Sometimes the sign of the ONE TUN may also be seen. It occurs in the following newspaper item:— “Last Thursday four highwaymen drinking at the One Tun Tavern near Hungerford Market in the Strand, and falling out about dividing their booty, the Drawer overheard them, sent for a constable, and secured them, and next day they were committed to Newgate.”—Weekly Journal, December 6, 1718. That these fellows meant mischief is evident from a subsequent article. They had a complete arsenal about them, viz., two blunderbusses, one loaded with fifteen balls, the other with seven, and five pistols loaded with powder and shot.
The GOLDEN CUP, from the form in which it was generally represented, seems to have been derived from the Goldsmiths' arms, which are quarterly azure, two leopards heads or, (whence the mint mark) and two golden cups covered between two buckles or. It was a sign much fancied by booksellers, as: Abel Jeff's in the Old Bailey, 1564; Edward Allde, Without Cripplegate, from 1587 until 1600; and John Bartlet the Elder, in St Paul's Churchyard; whilst the THREE CUPs was a famous carriers' inn in Aldersgate in the seventeenth century.
The RAM AND TEAZEL, Queenshead Street, Islington, is a part of the Clothworkers' arms, which are sable, a chevron ermine between two habicks in chief arg., and a teasel in base or. The crest is a ram statant or on a mount vert.
The HAMMER AND CROWN appears from a trades token to have been the sign of a shop in Gutter Lane, in the seventeenth century. It was a charge from the Blacksmiths' arms: sable, a chevron between three hammers crowned or.
The LION IN THE WOOD was a tavern of some note a hundred years ago in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. It seems originally to have been the Woodmongers' arms, whose crest is a lion issuing from a wood. At the present day it is the sign of a public-house in the same locality, namely, in Wilderness Lane, Dorset Street, Fleet Street.
To these Corporation arms we may add two belonging to companies. During the South Sea mania the SOUTH SEA ARMs was a favourite sign; in 1718, the very year that Queen Anne had established the company and granted them arms, they appeared as the sign of a tavern near Austin Friars: they are a curious heraldic compound. “Azure, a globe representing the Straights of Magellan and Cape Horn, all proper. On a canton the arms of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain, and in sinister chief two herrings salterwise arg., crowned or.”
The SOL's ARMs, Sol's
Row, Hampstead Road, immortalised by Dickens in “Bleak House,” derives its name
from the Sol's Society, who were a kind of freemasons. They used to hold their
meetings at the Queen of Bohemia's Head, Drury Lane, but on the pulling down of
that house the Society was dissolved.