The British pub forms the backbone of our society… according to some.

Aside from real ale and salty snacks, they have a unique heritage when it comes to their names and signs. Bizarre images are conjured from ‘The Bull and Spectacles’ to ‘The Swan with Two Necks.’ But how did Britain become affiliated with such kooky names?

By the 12th century, naming of pubs had become common through the depiction of signs and images. The simple reason came down to the fact that the majority of the population could not read or write.

In 1393, King Richard II passed an Act making it compulsory for pubs and inns to have a sign in order to identify them to the official ale taster. Thus, the eccentric names of British pubs were born.

Inspired by these weird and wonderful descriptions, we’ve created 16 illustrations of the more quirky pub names across Britain, from Cornwall in the west to Norfolk in the east, and from Bournemouth in the south to the Lake District in the north. They’re sure to give you a giggle, and who knows – they may even get you gasping for a pint!



  1. Johnson, B. Pub Signs of Britain. (
  2. St. Austell Brewery. Bucket of Blood. (
  3. The Good Pub Guide. The Bull and Spectacles. (
  4. The Drunken Duck. Homepage. (
  5. The Nobody Inn. Homepage. (
  6. The Cat and Custard. Homepage. (
  7. The Goat and Tricycle. Homepage. (
  8. The Swan with Two Necks. Homepage. (
  9. What Pub. The Jolly Taxpayer. (
  10. The Moody Cow. Homepage. (
  11. The Good Pub Guide. Sir Loin of Beef. (
  12. Wig and Pen. Homepage. (
  13. Joseph Holt. Ape and Apple. (
  14. The Queen’s Head and Artichoke. Homepage. (
  15. The Unruly Pig. Homepage. (
  16. The Fat Cat. Homepage. (
  17. The Snooty Fox. Homepage. (

Article and infographic published courtesy of