Thursday, May 19, 2011

Part the XXXVII: Top Ten Pub Signs of England

As we come up on my last full day in England, I have decided to publish a few closing articles.  People who have been monitoring my facebook know that I have been taking pictures of Pub Signs since coming to England.  The shots I take are usually just casual one as I pass by signs that catch my interest.  In England, a pub can become known simply by its sign.  As such, many still feature hand-painted pieces of art denoting the name.  Free houses tend to be the most artistic.  Other pubs may display a logo for a brewery with which they are connected and help pay for the sign.  Either way, I leave here, for your perusal, my top ten signs as decided by me:
10: The Red Lion, Lacock
The most popular pub name in England, the Red Lion of Lacock features a beautiful medieval style hand painted sign.  It fits in with the medieval feel that the village has.
9: Sam Weller's, Bath
A great design, it uses an old beer-barrel as part of its sign.  Creative and functional, it certainly shows you what to expect.
8: The Cricketer, Lord's Cricket Ground, London.
Another great antique hand-painted classic.  Everything about this old sign kind of cries out "History".  This, along with Lord's Tavern which is also on the grounds, would have been one of the premier spots to sit and drink before and after a match.  Players frequented both pubs on match days.
7: The Bear, Oxford.
Oxford's oldest pub, it opened in 1242.  It contains a large tie collection.  Basically, if you are wearing a tie the landlord likes, he will walk up with scissors and cut it off of you, then pay you back with a drink.  This sign is also a good example of one paid for by a brewing company, in this case, Fuller's of London.
6: The Mitre, Oxford.
One of the few 3-D signs that I found on my journey.  The aptly named Mitre has become famous for it's model of its namesake hanging outside one of its large bay-windows.
5: The White Swan, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
A hand-painted cut-out style sign.  Often you see one or the other.  In this case you get the best of both worlds executed perfectly.
4: The Volunteer Riflemen's Arms, Bath.
My favorite pub in Bath along with my local, The St. Jame's Wine Vaults, "The Riflemen" was my frequent haunt every Wednesday around Lunch.  Located in the Alley that is Union Passage it may seem a bit hard to find at first.  But once you find its familiar crossed guns it sticks right out.  
3. The Porter, Bath.
Famous for being an all vegetarian pub, The Porter also sports a well painted sign of its eponymous worker.
2.  The Dandy Lion, Bradford-Upon-Avon.
It is a lion wearing an Edwardian outfit smoking a pipe and wearing a top hat: Any arguments against this sign are therefore immediately invalid.
So that brings us to the number one Pub Sign in England!:
1: The Raven, Bath.
Keeping the dandy animal theme is The Raven.  Famous for its pies and sausages, it is best known for its in-house brewed Raven Ale.  As soon as I saw this sign, it became one of my personal favorites.  

I must say, however, that I enjoyed all of the signs I saw.  What you see here are merely my top ten.  In truth, an album I have of signs numbers close to 90 different examples that I saw during my stay here in England.  Some were dives and some were expensive hot spots.  All of them, however, were unique in their own ways.

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