As campaigners battle to prevent a pub from consigning to history its ties with the Catholic Church, even the Archbishop of Westminster has got stuck into the campaign to stop The Cardinal in Victoria from changing its name.
The pub, much frequented by politicians, was named in honour of Cardinal Manning, a 19th-century Archbishop of Westminster who worked to improve conditions for migrants and supported a dockers' strike. Now landlords Samuel Smith Old Brewery plan to rename it the Windsor Castle.
Current Archbishop, Vincent Nichols, says the change would mean 'losing a reminder of the Catholic Church's commitment to the social good'. And it is true that as pubs change hands or, more recently, are upgraded to smart gastropubs, as the old name is lost, so is a sense of local history.
The Artichoke Pub in Camberwell, now the Funky Munky, pays reference to the days, three centuries ago, when Camberwell was a market garden town, growing everything from asparagus to peaches to artichokes. In 1996, backed by the Campaign for Real Ale, Conservative MP Ann Winterton attempted to bring in a law preventing pubs changing historical names.
However, as Mike Ripley of the Brewers & Licensed Retailers of the Association points out:
"Pub names do change...before the Reformation, beer was brewed in local monasteries. Henry VIII came along and did away with the Catholic Church so landlords were faced with a choice - change the name or lose your head.
"That's why so many pubs are called the Red Lion - his coat of arms - or the King's Head...
"An editorial in The Spectator from about 1710 rails against what it calls silly pub names, such as the Blue Boar or Flying Pig."
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