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8th November 2023

What is the most popular pub name in the UK

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There’s nothing better than sitting by a warm fire in a nice pub, drink in hand, and a Sunday dinner settling in your tummy.

But with the number of pubs dropping rapidly in the UK – from 60,800 in 2000 to 45,800 in 2022 – we think it’s time to shine a light on Britain’s pubs.

At ukphonebook.com, we’ve dug deep into our database of 4 million businesses to find all the pubs registered in the UK and discover which pub names are the most popular.

We’ve also analysed the data to find the most popular new pub names since 2020 and explore any themes.

Here’s what we’ve found...

What is the most popular pub name in the UK?

The most common pub name in the UK is The Red Lion, with 468 pubs using this classic name.

The postcode area of TA5 (Taunton, Somerset) has the most The Red Lion pubs in the UK.

PositionMost PopularTotalPostcode with mostRegionTotal
1RED LION468TA5 (Taunton)Southwest4
2ROYAL OAK433DT6 (Bridport)Southwest5
3ROYAL BRITISH LEGION335LE67 (Coalville)Midlands5
4NEW INN273BH20 (Wareham)Southwest5
5CROWN INN267LE14 (Melton Mowbray)Midlands6
6WHITE HART233CB8 (Newmarket)East7
7ROSE CROWN226EX20 (Okehampton)Southwest6
8WHITE HORSE218LN4 (Lincoln)Midlands6
9KINGS ARMS208IP22 (Diss)East7
10PLOUGH INN206ST7 (Kidsgrove)Midlands7

 

Coming second on the list of most popular pub names is the Royal Oak, with 433 pubs taking this name across the country. Bridport in Devon has 5 pubs named The Royal Oak – the most of any postcode region in the UK.

In fact, the Southwest region has truly embraced traditional pub names: 4 of the top 10 most common pub names are primarily found in Southwest towns.




Royal British Legion sneaks into the top three pub names, with many members only clubs using this name. There are over 400 registered RBL clubs in the UK, though not all have the same pub name.

The royal theme continues through the top ten with The Crown Inn, White Hart, Rose and Crown and King’s Arms all inspired by the UK’s rich royal history.

The Plough Inn sits at the bottom of the top 10 with 206 pubs.

Nik Antona, National Chairman for CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) said:

"The array of weird and wonderful pub names are part of the charm and experience of frequenting your local.

“Pubs are part of the fabric of community life across the UK, providing a safe place to meet and socialise, offering a community hub for activities and events. As well as being vital to local economies, they help bring people together, tackling loneliness and social isolation.

“If we are going to keep our locals alive and thriving across the country, then we must see action from governments to ease the burden of business rates, energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis hitting consumers.

"That's why CAMRA continues to campaign for action and support to save our pubs – otherwise pub names risk being relegated to a thing of the past instead of associated with thriving locals at the heart of community life."

 

Why is the Red Lion name so popular?

The Red Lion pub name, like many of our top ten, is inspired by history’s kings and knights – specifically their heraldic animals.

John of Gaunt, a famed knight from the 14th century who founded the royal House of Lancaster, wore a Red Lion on his coat of arms.

When Scotland’s King James VI was appointed King James I of England in 1603, his Red Lion was incorporated into the Royal Coat of Arms. He also ordered all important buildings – pubs among them – to fly the red lion flag at their entrance.

In fact, much of this use of heraldic inspired names comes from 1393, when it became law for all pubs to hang an identifying sign outside. As King Edward II was on the throne at the time, many pubs chose his White Hart as their symbol, according to Trust Inns. To this day, 233 pubs still retain that name.

Most popular pub name by type

We analysed the most popular pub names and have broken them down into type.

Not surprisingly, eight of the top ten most popular pub names are inspired by royal connections.

However, there is obviously a lot of overlap – for example, the classic Red Lion is both an animal and inspired by royalty. So, we’ve gone for the literal meaning – if it mentions an animal, we’ve categorised it as Animal.

And that’s where we find most pubs draw their names from. Animal themed pub names made up 34% of all UK pub names, with royalty accounting for 17.6%.

PositionMost popular name typeTotal
1Animal2731
2Royalty1401
3Machinery / Tools723
4Tree / Plant698
5Vehicle690
6Job457
7Location400
8Age273
9Space239
10History182
11Religious81
12Sport49
13Food43

 

In third place was machinery and tools (9.1%) – largely down to pubs called The Plough, Cross Keys, and the Wheatsheaf. Nature (8.8%) inspired nearly 700 pub owners when choosing their names – drawing on both the rose and oaks. Again, these have royal connections, especially the rose.

Vehicles (8.7%) rounded out our top 5, with everything from pubs being located near railways to coastal pubs opting for ships and anchors in their names. However, these options are becoming less popular as Britain moves away from its seafaring and manufacturing peak.

Trends in pub names since 2020

We pulled data from 2020 to 2023 to see which new pub names are most popular and which ones have grown – or shrunk – in popularity.

It’s no surprise that the most popular new pub name in the last 3 years was The Red Lion. In fact, the top 10 new pub names are very similar to the overall data – with a few exceptions:

  • Royal British Legion has dropped out of the top 10. This is down to the reduced presence of the institute itself, rather than naming trends.
  • The George is a new entry on the list. Ten of the 87 pubs that carry this name were registered in the last three years – possibly named after the future heir to the throne, Prince George.
  • The Plough has also just dropped out the top 10. This has been replaced by the Coach and Horses.
PositionMost Popular since 2020Total
1RED LION25
2ROYAL OAK20
3WHITE HORSE15
3CROWN15
5KINGS ARMS10
5GEORGE10
7CROWN INN8
7COACH HORSES8
7VICTORIA8
10WHITE HART7

 

We took our analysis further and looked at which types of pub names have become more popular.

We can see that Animal theme names have risen in popularity – with 6.5% more pubs named after animals in the past 3 years. Royal names have also seen a 7.7% increase – possibly inspired by the coronation of King Charles.

PositionMost popular name type since 2020Total% change
1Animal1136.5
2Royalty707.7
3Tree / Plant24-0.4
4Machinery / Tools19-1.9
5Vehicle18-2.2
6Location12-1.4
7History7-2.5
8Age6-1.3
9Space6-0.8
10Job2-1.6
11Sport0-1.0
12Religious0-0.6
13Food0-0.5

 

After that, however, the other themes have all dropped. Sports, Religion and Food have inspired zero people to name pubs after them in the past three years – no Cricketers, no Angels, and no Shoulders of Mutton.

Kevan Wilding, founder of Pubwiki, said:

“Pub names are really interesting if looked at from an earlier date. There were many thousands of beer houses opened in the 1850s with a sign outside giving a beer house its name. Some of these went on to become the modern-day locals we still know.

“In Hertfordshire, for example, nearly every other building in the high street was once a pub. But later the licensing laws became stricter.

“Moving onto recent times, many older pub names have been replaced by modern names that could relate to some local history story. Wetherspoons are great at this, and often provide displays of historical data about the name.

“Fairly recently, some pubs seem to be reverting to their original names. Even so, most pubs that have been renamed are still referred to by their older name.”



Are you Inn or out?

Another trend we’ve noticed is the inclusion of ‘Inn’ as part of a pub’s name.

Inns – historically, places along a road where travellers could stop and rest – have inspired many pub names in the past. But times are changing.

There are 2,264 – or 28% – UK pubs with ‘Inn’ in their title. However, since 2020 only 16% of new pubs have chosen to include ‘Inn’ as part of their name.

This could be due to the popularity of shorter names – The Crown instead of The Crown Inn. Or it could be that many new pubs simply don’t consider themselves Inns because they don’t offer rooms. With the rise of AirBnB, staying at pubs has become less popular.

If you’re looking to book a pub, use our business search function to find one near you and it’s most up-to-date contact details.

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