Monday, November 20, 2023

More Alcohol-Related Heraldry: Pub Signs

Today's three heraldic stops on our tour of York, England, all have to do with the heraldic signs of three different pubs in the old city. I am going to treat them in alphabetical order, which also happens to be the order in which we go from least truly heraldic to most heraldic. Isn't it nice that it works out that way?

First up, the Golden Fleece inn and pub, whose sign is, obviously enough, a golden fleece.

Now, that is one very fat golden ram!

The Golden Fleece is mentioned in the York city archives as far back as 1503. The building it is in, though, was rebuilt in the 19th Century. And it claims to be the most haunted public house in York, and featured on an episode of Most Haunted. More information about the Golden Fleece can be found in its entry on Wikipedia at,_York

Then, we have the Golden Lion.

There are two different heraldic items on the Golden Lion's sign.

The first and most obvious is the lion's head cabossed or.

The other, less "in your face", is the crest atop the Greene King sign, Two arrows in saltire enfiled by a coronet or

Greene King is a brewery established in Bury St. Edmunds in 1799. You can learn more about the history of this company at

And, of course, more about the Golden Lion can be found on the internet at

Finally, we come to the most heraldic pub sign (even though the heraldry is not entirely accurate), the Duke of York.

Their website,, doesn't give us anything about the history of this pub, beyond letting us see that it is owned by Leeds Brewery Duke of York.

The arms shown on the sign are clearly those of the Plantagenet and Tudor kings and queens of England: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lys or (France modern); 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or (England).

These arms could refer to Edward Plantagenet, 4th Duke of York of the first creation, who seized the throne in 1461 as King Edward IV, when the title Duke of York merged in the crown; or to Henry Tudor, Duke of York of the third creation, who succeeded to the throne in 1509 as King Henry VIII, when the title merged in the crown.

(The second creation, in 1474, was to Richard of Shrewsbury, younger brother of King Edward V, who disappeared, and is believed to have been killed with his brother in the Tower of London during the reign of his uncle, King Richard III.)

The fourth (in 1605) and subsequent creations (most recently, in 1986 of Prince Andrew) would have used different arms that would have included Scotland and Ireland and dropped France.

All that said, technically speaking, the arms shown here are the arms of the King (or Queen) of England; the arms of the Duke of York in any of those creations had a charged label to difference them from the arms of the Crown: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lys or (France modern); 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or (England); overall a label argent charged with nine torteaux [red roundels].

Anyway, all in all it's an interesting display of heraldry, which can also teach us a little bit of history if we're willing to do a few minutes of research.

And that's all to the good, don't you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment