Medieval Inn & Tavern Names
From Medievalists.net – January 31, 2014
British Library Medieval, Additional 27695, c. 1330-40
From 1423 to 1426 the names of over 50 taverns & inns were recorded by William Porland, who was the clerk for London’s fraternity of Brewers. In an article in the Journal of the English Place Name Society, Barrie Cox takes a look at these names & some of the reasons how they got them. Here are few:
1. The Swan – this was the most popular name, with 6 taverns in London using it. Other taverns were named for birds as well, including The Crane & The Cock. There were even taverns called The White Cock & The Red Cock.
2. The Dolphin (Dolphyn) was the name of a tavern near St. Magnus’ Church. Other animal names for taverns include The Horse, The Lamb & The Old Bull.
3. The Seven Stars (vij Sterres) – according to medieval knowledge, the 7 stars represented the sun, the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus & Mercury. Another tavern had the name The Three Moons.
4. The King’s Head (kyngeshed) – a few other taverns had a similar name, including The Horse’s Head, The Ram’s Head & The Saracen’s Head
5. Two taverns were named after saints: The Christopher, after the patron saint of travellers, & The St. Julian, who was the patron saint of hospitality.
6. The Pewter Pot (peauterpotte) could be found in Ironmonger Lane in Cheapside. It probably got its name for a type of drinking vessel.
7. The Pannier (panyer) on Paternoster Rowe would have been based on the French word panier, which means bread basket. Barrie Cox writes “this seems appropriate as a name for a lowly eating- & drinking-house.”
8. The Cony (Cony yn Conyhooplane) was a Middle English word for a rabbit, leading Cox to believe “the name suggests a small tavern where a rabbit stew could be enjoyed.”
Other names of medieval taverns include The Ball, The Basket, The Bell, The Cross, The Cup, The Garland, The Green Gate, The Hammer, The Lattice, The Rose & 2 that were called The Ship.
Barrie Cox’ article ‘Some London Inn & Tavern Names 1423-1426′ appears the Journal of the English Place Name Society, Vol.30(1997-8). He also wrote the book English Inn & Tavern Names, which was published in 1994 & is available from the Institute for Name Studies, University of Nottingham.