After the weekend of the Royal Wedding, members of North and South Wheatley Local History Group enjoyed a really good journey around the public houses of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire with our guest speaker Robert Mee. Robert has a MA in English Local History and has written for many magazines on the subject, but on Monday 21st May, he took a detailed look at inn signs primarily around the local counties. All the signs and more were displayed on the screen with some very interesting slides. This was not a history or travel guide to the inns and pubs themselves, but more how they got their names and the story behind many.
The group started with a brief history, as the origins of signs at drinking places go back certainly to roman times when they were a pictorial sign for the purpose of the building. From that came the likes of the Grapes Hotel, and the Vine (from which came the wine). With the population being predominantly illiterate picture signs were so important. A law in 1389 even made alehouse signs compulsory. Robert listed some of the popular names at different dates. They then had a go at guessing the top names in the England, which turned out to be, in order, Red Lion, Crown, Royal Oak, White Hart, Swan (plain, black or white), Plough, and Bell. Each of these had a link to some aspect of history, with royalty or hunting featuring highly, and with many different interpretations. Then there was the link to the landowners, the Cavendish, Newcastle Arms, and even the railway that ran across their land, with The Final Whistle. Dukes — Devonshire Arms, Rutland Arms, and pubs that change their names like the Middleton Arms becoming the Dewdrop. There are a plethora of names that have links to different subjects or uses, as well as pubs named after trades, or areas, and more unusual names. There were so many that it is impossible to list them here, and with such interesting origins.
The group’s next meeting will take place on 16th July at 10.00am at the Village Hall in South Wheatley. At this meeting Chris Weir who will give a talk entitled ‘Nottinghamshire’s Dark Side’ -— learn about the darker side of life in Nottinghamshire including grim murders, ghosts and mysterious deaths. A friendly welcome and a cuppa is assured; first visits are free, you can then join or return as a paying guest. For more information please contact Dave on 01427 880934 or Alan Guest on 01427 884147.