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!
- Top ten most common pub names in England
From the Crown and the White Hart to the Railway and the Red Lion, popular pub names and their origins.
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.
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.