Popular Army, Navy and Military Pub Names in England

Introduction to English Pub Names

Pubs are a common and important feature in England's community life. And each pub has a name; many pub names are centuries old.

Lot of pubs are named after famous battles, esteemed generals, or heroic admirals.

Some are obvious, such as the Trafalgar pub in Greenwich, or the Lord Nelson pub.

Others are less so, as the generals have been forgotten, or the names of battles corrupted over time.

This article is about pubs named after military-related people or events. It's not supposed to be a comprehensive list, but rather, an interesting wander through English history, via a pint in the local pub. I'm a Londoner by birth and upbringing, so there's a distinct London bias here!

Admiral Lord Nelson
Admiral Lord Nelson

Trafalgar and Waterloo

Trafalgar was the 1805 battle in which Admiral Lord Nelson established beyond doubt that Britain ruled in the waves, although he died proving the point against Napoleon's ships.

There are several pubs in London named after the sea battle – the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, an early 19th century riverside pub, the Trafalgar on the King's Road, in Chelsea, The Battle of Trafalgar near Charing Cross, next to the National Portrait Gallery, and the Trafalgar Arms in Tooting, south-west London.

There are also several in Kent, and examples of Trafalgar pubs in York, Portsmouth, Edinburgh, and the Isle of Man.

The land battle which finished off Napoleon for good, the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, is also a popular pub name.

Although Trafalgar pubs are common in London, Waterloo pubs seem more common further north in the country. There is a Waterloo Tavern in Canterbury, in Kent.

Not surprisingly, there are also a lot of pubs named after Lord Admiral Nelson, and after the Duke of Wellington, who won the Battle of Waterloo.

There are Nelson pubs in London, in Camden, Wood Green, and Old Street, and lots of them in Norfolk, which was where Horatio Nelson was born.

There are nearly 100 pubs across the country called after the Duke, some are just Wellington, others are the Wellington Arms or the Duke of Wellington.

Saracens and Turks

Originally a Greek term referring to non-Arab people from the Middle East, in the Middle Ages “Saracen” was a term often used to refer to any Muslims in or around the Holy Land, and sometimes also to the Barbary pirates in North Africa.

Many Muslims were also called “Turks” or “Ottomans”, no matter where they came from.

There are no Saracen's Head pubs in London that I'm aware of, but there is a Saracen's Head in Henley-on-Thames (Oxfordshire), and a few in Buckinghamshire (Beaconsfield, Aylesbury and Amersham).

Other than these in the Home Counties, it's more common to find the name in the Midlands and in the north other country.

Pubs called the Turks Head are again mostly found in the north of England, with a couple in Cornwall, in Penzance and St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly.

Henry VIII and the Battle of Boulogne

It's suggested that the pub names the Bull and Mouth and the Bull and Bush are both corruptions of the battle Henry VIII fought on the north French coast. (Boulogne Mouche and Boulogne Bouche).

While this might be true for some pubs, it's also the case that both “Bull” and “Bush” are quite common for other reasons, so take this attribution with a pinch of salt!

There is The Old Bull and Bush in Hampstead, in London, and also the Bull and Bush in Plymouth, in Devon. There is also a Bull and Mouth in Holborn, central London.

John Manners, Marquis of Granby
John Manners, Marquis of Granby

The Marquis of Granby

General John Manners was the eldest son and heir of the Duke of Rutland.

He fought as a junior officer in the Jacobite Revolt in 1745, and later was a general in the 7 years' war in Germany.

The Marquis of Granby was also an MP, and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces (Head of the Army) in the 1760s.

British soldiers who were injured or disabled in the 18th century were chucked out of the Army with not much more than a “thanks, see you”.

The Marquis of Granby provided the money for a number of ex-soldiers who had been injured to buy and run pubs, so that they could make a living.

General John Manners was also extremely popular among the British public.

There are quite a few Marquis of Granby pubs in London – in Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Westminster and New Cross, and others across the country.

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28 comments

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

Hi, London Girl!!

Glad to see you back on HP.

I have never been to an authentic English pub, but I have a thought that many of them keep their historic names to entice American tourists who are comparatively history-deprived when it comes to anything more than a couple of centuries old.

Hope all is going well for you.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

I'm not sure if that's right - after all, there are a lot of pubs with centuries-old names which have probably never seen an American (-:


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago

You're back! Maybe someday I'll have the chance to visit some of the pubs on this list! A girl can dream............ ;-) Thanks........... Kaie


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Hope you do!


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis

I visited a pub or two in London, none of the famous ones, but they had such character!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

One tip-off to the age of a pub is the height of the ceiling and doorways. If both are low, the pub is authentically old, built when men were much shorter than today. Also, the floors will probably be uneven or noticeably not level, due to settling of the ground underneath over the course of a few centuries.

As for centuries-old pubs that have never seen an American, hats off to the regulars who've kept the secret. ;D


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I wish I could make a tour of the pubs in England (and Ireland, too.) The names and the history are interesting, LondonGirl, but I bet the ale is an even bigger attraction.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Actually, I don't drink much (-: I like pubs, though.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Houses are the same, JG - my parents' late 15th century house had low doorways. I banged my head on quite a few, and I'm only 5 ft 6.


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

What a lovely bouquet of historical tidbits to munch on--along with bringing up some pub memories from the days of my dear departed youth:-) Warm beer and something called a " scotch egg" as I remember-- good job as usual Londongirl-- thanks for this one


BrianS profile image

BrianS 5 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

I am sure I have been in most of these, but can't remember for sure. Don't know why exactly :-) Glad to see you writing on HP again.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

Good to see you LG. We have two Battle of Trafalgar pubs in the Brighton and Hove area, as well as a 'Bugle', a 'Wellington', and a 'Fortune o' War'. Sadly many of our fabulous old pubs have closed for good in the last few years, including one made famous by Graham Greene's 'Brighton Rock', but the old favourites are still clinging on.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Why would you want cold beer? Can't taste it, then!

Thanks Brian, glad you liked it.


Dave Harris profile image

Dave Harris 5 years ago from Cardiff, UK

Cool hub LondonGirl, I seem to have spent half my life in pubs, liking the military theme too! Thanx for sharing!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Glad you liked it, Dave


Louis Krodel 5 years ago

What is the pub Elephant and Castle named after? There is also a tube stop with that name?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

There's a very famous Saracen's Head in Glasgow, usually nicknamed the Sarry Heid. Not a place to be English in, I'm afraid - it's a bit rough.

In my adopted corner of London, Paddington, I can't think of many military named pubs, unless you count the Rob Roy, but we do have the respectfully named Sir Alexander Fleming and the Dickens Tavern.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I love old English pubs Thank you for a great hub


Clare 5 years ago

I am always interested about England but never had the chance to know about their pub names. After reading this, i think they are very creative about it. Well, It is really interesting.


WestOcean profile image

WestOcean 5 years ago from Great Britain

This is fascinating, especially about the Marquis of Granby. Round my way a lot of pubs are re-branding themselves with generic modern names and all this heritage is being lost...


jackavc profile image

jackavc 5 years ago from Australia

Great Hub. I used to work above a pub in London called the Magpie and Stump. In Australia most of our pub names are from England. In melbourne there is a Waterloo Hotel and a Trafalgar Arms. In Cairns there is a Cock and Bull. Nearly every place in Austalia has a Shamrock Hotel.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 5 years ago from London Author

Thanks, glad you liked it!


GlstngRosePetals profile image

GlstngRosePetals 5 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

I enjoyed reading your hub keep up the good work


Iontach profile image

Iontach 5 years ago

I love those authentic pubs! The old ones with the smell of beer stained into the surroundings and the dim light..so cosy.

The pubs in Ireland are basically the same as the pubs in England.

I love your page it's sooo random, plus interesting! Where did you get the idea to write this? lol


mullers 5 years ago

weird names


Dulces 21 months ago

In Stockholm, go to the Vasa and Nobel Museums. They are hands down two fo the coolest mumsues I have EVER been to. I could have spent the whole day just wandering in each of them. Go to the palace and if you're a student, ask for the student discount. When I went it was less than a dollar for admission. It was totally worth it too. I LOVE Stockholm. Just wander around there, it's such a beautiful city you'll probably just want to spend lots of time staring at it and being amazed.For London, I used to live there and could write a novel about the cool things you can see and do there. It's hands down my very favourite city. For good pubs, I always ahd a good time at the Old Blue Last just off Old street in Hackney (I think). It's a younger crowd, but I enjoyed it. For good foor, Pizza express can be found anywhere in the city and it's decent enough. Be sure to eat Indian Food there too. I used to like getting my curry on Brick Lane (while there, check out the bagel bakery.I can't remember the name, but it's SO GOOD). My very favourite ice cream place in the city (well, gelato technically) is a little place on Charing Cross Rd. called Ciao! Gelateria. It has a giant ice cream cone outside and it's right by Leicester Square. It's easy enough to miss, but if you hapepn to see it, go inside. It's totally worth it.


Caiya 21 months ago

How could any of this be better stated? It conudl't.


Tomonori 20 months ago

the anne frank house was AMAZING! I cried a lot, but it was so incredible to see the house I read [and reerad and reerad] about and to see the actual diary of hers .amazing. worth the trip if nothing else was there. but the van gogh museum was great, too, and the red light district was alright, too, bu tno cameras! =]as for London, I was there from Sept-Jan, and it was amazing. Brick lane has lots of great Indian places, one of my favorites was pappadums, and .oh there was another great place I will try to get the name of, amazing Pakistani restaurant in the brick lane area. as for pubs, anglesea arms was great, and the Olde explorer right off of oxford street, I think. =] amazing fish and chips. oh! and go to Nando's!

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