Drink Your Way Through The Kings And Queens Of Britain

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By M@ Last edited 6 months ago
Drink Your Way Through The Kings And Queens Of Britain
One of many hanging signs featuring Henry VIII. This one's on Borough High Street.

Where are London's royalist pubs? Everywhere, frankly. From Royal Oaks to White Harts, many of our common pub names have regal inspiration. Plenty are named directly after individual rulers. So join us for a royal flush of monarchical boozers.

The King Harold

The only pre-conquest pub we can find is the King Harold in, suitably enough, Harold Wood. The Havering suburb is indeed named after the fallen man of Hastings, so it's appropriate that a local pub still honours his name. 51 Station Road, Harold Wood, RM3 OBS.

William the Conqueror

Harold's nemesis has settled closer in, half way betwixt Stratford and Ilford. The William the Conqueror is a lively, entertainment-led pub with zero traces of Norman heritage. 630 Romford Road, Manor Park E12 5AQ.

Richard I

One of Greenwich's hidden treasures, this Young's pub boasts a magnificent beer garden and dining conservatory. We're not quite sure why it's named after the Lionheart, but by the time you've trekked up the significant hill, you don't ask needless questions. The delightful Greenwich Union is next door if you fancy an effortless pub crawl. 52-54 Royal Hill, Greenwich SE10 8RT

Richard II

T'other Richard doesn't have his own dedicated London pub. He did, however, inspire one of the commonest pub names in Britain. Anything called the White Hart has a Ricardian influence for this was the king's personal device. London has about a dozen. Our favourite is the Stoke Newington version, which hides the largest beer garden in the area. 69 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 8EL.

Henry VII

The debut Tudor does not lend his name directly to a pub. His device of a rose, however, is often cited as the inspiration behind the common pub name The Rose and Crown. The connection is by no means certain, so we'll not list out all the examples.

Henry VIII

No pub in London is directly named after England's most famous king. However, numerous pubs around town decorate their hanging signs with his portly, menacing face — particularly those with the popular name 'The King's Head'. You'll find examples from Bexley to Barnet, but the best drinking experience is to be had in the King's Head, Tooting. This sprawling Victorian pub is a delight to explore. 84 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7PB

Henry's elder brother Arthur, who should have been king but died aged 15, is remembered in the names of several pubs, including the Prince Arthur near Euston station.

Elizabeth I

At least two pubs in London take their name from Good Queen Bess. The Queen Elizabeth in Walworth displays the last Tudor's likeness on a prominent roundel. Meanwhile, the Queen Elizabeth in Chingford stands not far from the 16th century Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge. Be sure to order a Bloody Mary, the tomato-based cocktail supposedly named after Liz's half-sister and predecessor, Mary I.

James I

The first Stuart to take the English throne, the scholar king gave us the King James Bible, presided over the British colonisation of America, and made a memorable appearance in Doctor Who. Sadly, he didn't give us many pubs. That said, you could do a lot worse than the King and Tinker in Enfield.

This ancient, almost-rural pub on the northern fringes of London recalls an old legend involving James. While out hunting on Enfield Chase one day, the king became separated from his entourage. He took shelter in this pub, where he befriended a local tinker. The tradesman only realised to whom he was talking when the king's groupies caught up. James liked the fellow so much, he had him knighted. Whitewebbs Lane, Enfield, EN2 9HJ

Charles I

Charles is well remembered thanks to his rapid loss of height in January 1649, courtesy of the executioner's blade. Just one London pub remembers his name, and it's a cracker. The King Charles I in King's Cross is one of those tiny backstreet gems that, once discovered, becomes a lifetime favourite. Oddly, it carries a stained glass window to another king, Elvis Presley. 55-57 Northdown Street, N1 9BL

(The two also share real estate on the hanging sign of the Famous Three Kings in West Kensington, with Henry VIII making up the unlikely trio.)

Charles II

Royal Oak in Southwark

Charles's son and heir and namesake lacks any pub of his own in London. The Merry Monarch can indirectly live up to his nickname, thanks to the many pubs called The Royal Oak.

The name recalls the tree in Boscobel, Shropshire, where Charles supposedly hid from Roundhead troops during the English Civil War. It is the third commonest pub name in the country, and London has more than 20 — plus the Penderel's Oak in Holborn, which also commemorates the royal hide-and-seek. Of these, the Harvey's house in Southwark is perhaps the most cherished among beer fans. Its hanging sign shows the young Charles looking down on his pursuers. 44 Tabard Street, SE1 4JU

Anne

The last of the Stuarts is another monarch with no directly named pub. However, the Queen's Head in Pinner — a place of remarkable antiquity with cellars that may date to the 12th century — features a prominent portrait of the queen. Formerly The Crown, it was renamed the Queen's Head in 1715, the year after Anne's death. 31 High Street, Pinner, HA5 5PJ

George I

1714 saw the House of Hanover take the crown of the recently created Kingdom of Great Britain, in the person of George I. To show allegiance to the new regime, many pubs adopted the sign of the white horse, symbol (or sigil if you're a Game of Thrones nut) of the House of Hanover. So the story goes. The common pub name The White Horse probably has multiple origins. London has around 20. The most notable — for its extensive craft beer range and nickname of the Sloany Pony — is the prominent corner house in Parsons Green. 2 Parsons Green, SW6 4TN

George II

Until 2018, the most forgettable of the four Georgian Georges had his own pub in Hornchurch. It's since changed to a non-regal name. His son and (predeceased) heir Prince Frederick is, however, commemorated in Bromley's Prince Frederick.

George III

Crest of the King's Arms.

London has no pub called The George III, though the famously 'mad' king is hinted at throughout the pubosphere. His countenance crops up on many a pub sign, while the Kings Arms on Newcomen Street (Borough) carries his coat of arms, rescued from Old London Bridge. The most curious link can be found in Bloomsbury, at The Queen's Larder. The cellar of this pub was supposedly used as a food store by Queen Charlotte, while she was nursing her husband at a nearby doctor's house — hence the pub's name. 1 Queen's Square, WC1N 3AR.

George IV

George IV in Chiswick.
George IV in Chiswick.

The fourth George was deeply unpopular with the public. Odd to report, then, that he has more pubs to his name than any previous monarch. George IVs can be found in Marylebone High Street, Kentish Town, Portugal Street, Woolwich and (our favourite) Chiswick, among others.

During the long, afflicted reign of his father, George went by the title Prince Regent (you may recall the character played by Hugh Laurie in Blackadder III). This title is all over town: Regent Street, Regent Square, Regent's Park, Regent's Canal... Pubs of this name are also common throughout London and the wider kingdom.

William IV

Perhaps even more surprising than the preponderance of George IVs is the ubiquity of his immediate successor, William IV. Old Bill is the forgotten monarch of the 19th century, overshadowed by the Georges and, of course, Victoria. He only reigned for seven years, yet has almost as many London pubs. Find them in the Harrow Road, Hampstead, Shepherdess Walk, West Drayton and Grosvenor Road. Our pick of the bunch is the William IV in Leyton — a charming Brodie's pub with an old-school interior that might have been fitted in William's day. 816 High Road Leyton London E10 6AE

Victoria

The long-serving queen almost has more pubs devoted to her name than all the rest put together. You'll find pubs called The Victoria or Queen Victoria in (deep breath): Barking, Belgravia, Belvedere, Bermondsey (x2), East Sheen, Globe Town, Hackney, Isleworth, Lancaster Gate, Marylebone (with Albert), Peckham, Richmond, Romford, Surbiton and Walthamstow. Not to mention a couple of Princess Victorias, and the famous fictional pub from Eastenders (actually a film set in Hertfordshire). Victoria reigns supreme. Several of her offspring are commemorated with their own pubs, including the famous Princess Louise in Holborn, while consort Prince Albert is also well represented.

Edward VII

The Edwardian era was ushered in by Victoria's son Edward VII. His sole London pub can be found in Stratford. It's a dependable, well-ran place, highly prized in a part of town that changes beyond recognition every time we visit. 47 Broadway, E15 4BQ. The fellow also crops up on several hanging signs, including the Prince Edward in Princes Square, Bayswater.

George V

471 playing fields were posthumously named after the present Queen's grandfather, but very few pubs. The exception is the George V in Ilford (645 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, IG2 6SX). Otherwise, George may be the inspiration behind several other 'The George' pubs — it's often hard to tell, with six monarchs and a patron saint. His image appears on the sign of the George Inn, Morden, for example.

George VI

The Queen's dad is also bereft of pubs, but one venue in Stepney remembers his wife Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother with fondness. You may not have visited the Queen's Head in York Square, but you've almost certainly seen a photograph of its interior. This is the place where, in 1987, her late majesty was photographed pulling and enjoying a pint. She featured on the hanging sign for a while, but a recent refit seems to have banished her likeness from the outside. Gawd rest 'er soul. 8 Flamborough Street, E14 7LS

Last Updated 14 December 2018