Color & Design: British Pub Signs

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by as good tavern or inn.” – Samuel Johnson

Nothing is more British than the pub, and being that it is such an important part of the English identity it is no wonder that great pride and consideration go into each pub sign.

Here is a collection of London pub signs from flickr user lincolnian.



The history of pub signs date back to the Roman times, when reliefs made of stone or terracotta were hung outside to denote the trade or profession of the occupants of the building. The sign of ‘The Goat’ suggested a dairy, ‘The Mule driving a Mill’ a bakery and ‘Bacchus’ (the Roman God) a wine merchant. One of the first Roman tavern signs was the ‘Bush’. The ‘Tabernae’ would also hang vine leaves outside to show that they sold wine – in Britain, as vine leaves are rare, small bushes were placed outside. Early pubs hung long poles or ale stakes, which might have been used to stir the ale, outside their doors. If both wine and ale were sold, then both bush and pole would be hung outside…. read more about British pub history here.

Author: evad
David Sommers has been loving color as COLOURlovers' Blog Editor-in-Chief for the past two years. When he's not neck deep in a rainbow he's loving other things with The Post Family (, a Chicago-based art blog, artist collective & gallery.

2 thoughts on “Color & Design: British Pub Signs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.