History is Not Boring - Oldest Pubs/Pub Names... Showing 1-14 of 14
A Brief History of British Pub Signs
But why do they exist in the first place? Hunt follows the history of the British pub sign from its 12th-century inception to its modern-day popularity. The signs' clear illustrations were originally created to draw in pre-literate drinkers, writes Hunt. People would arrange to meet "at the sign of the Eagle and Child" rather than "at the Eagle and Child. Eventually, the signs also took on other, more official roles.
Nevertheless, no matter how old the pub itself, the name on the sign outside is probably the most historic thing about the place. The idea of the pub sign came to Britain at the time of the Roman invasion. Wine bars in ancient Rome hung bunches of vine leaves outside as trading signs but when the Romans came here, they found precious few vines in the inhospitable climate. It would be centuries before the first recognisable pubs opened. Religious houses ran the earliest true inns to cater for pilgrims and knights on their way to the Crusades in the Holy Land. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, whose cellars are carved from the rocks beneath Nottingham Castle, is just such an example.