The pub sign has been a feature of England's streets for centuries. Most show familiar motifs, like red lions, white harts or a coat of arms. But just occasionally, we chance across something a little more intriguing. Here are a few of the best pub signs we've encountered around London.
The Chancellors in Hammersmith looks fairly traditional, until you notice the shield. The two Tudor gents anachronistically point to Einstein's famous equation of energy-mass equivalence. We wonder if the pub sells low-gravity beers?
The Adam and Eve pub in Mill Hill displays a commonplace sign out front. Round the back, however, you can view this curious masterclass in anatomical malproportion. More Chas and Dave than Adam and Eve.
The Pig's Ear in Chelsea not only has one of the more original pub names in London, but also a novel sign: a porcine pastiche of Toulouse-Lautrec.
The Hand in Hand in Wimbledon boasts a delightfully romantic sign bearing a daisy-chain engagement.
The Queens Larder in Queen Square, Bloomsbury opts for a cartoonish pub sign. It was here, supposedly, that Queen Charlotte lodged while her husband George III was treated nearby for his 'madness'. The sign shows the strangely stooped consort finding that her cupboard is bare, while a mouse-faced dog looks on. She's also ran out of apostrophes.
The famous Ye Olde Mitre hides down an alleyway off Hatton Garden, and is often touted as 'the most difficult pub to find in London'. It's not. Just look for this impressive pub sign, shaped like an actual mitre.
Another pub that eschews the rectangular board in favour of something more inventive is the Packhorse and Talbot in Chiswick (not to be confused with the similarly named Old Packhorse down the road). The iron horse is oddly elongated, giving it a body not unlike the (now extinct) talbot dog that leads the way.
Our favourite pub sign of all could once be seen outside the Three Kings in Clerkenwell. The choice of kings is inspired. Only Henry VIII flies the flag of true royalty, with King Kong and Elvis 'The King' Presley making up the august trio. The sign has since vanished. You can still find Elvis on a pub sign at the Famous Three Kings in West Kensington.
And finally, not so much a pub sign as a self-criticism. The sandwich board outside Holborn's Penderel's Oak has lost a letter. The unfortunate result is a pretty accurate review of this decent, but not outstanding pub. The Penderel's OK.