Sunday, 12 January 2014


All over the country most of our pubs have a long history and  have a diversity of names which reflect their history and origin.  Since medieval times our pubs have had names. They were named for a variety of reasons and many have changed their names over the years, especially in modern times. Some pubs have very unusual names and those are often the ones that have a story to tell.
I am starting in Scotland, moving south.
In some cases I was unable to obtain photographs and am grateful to be able to use other people's as appropriate.


Dirty  Dick’s


Dirty Dick’s is a colourful pub situated in Rose Street just off Edinburgh’s Princes Street.     Established in 1859, it was  named after a local character who lived in the area in the mid 19th century.   He was a lowly, scruffy man who followed the many horses in the area at that time and cleaned up after them.   He was something of a local legend rejoicing in the name of Dirty Dick, who spent much of his time at the pub telling the tale to earn his drinks.

It is said that Dick was left a wealthy legacy by his unknown mother, but that he died first, ignorant of his legacy.






The  World’s  End


The Worlds End  is another colourful pub situated in Edinburgh’s Golden Mile.  
A plaque outside  tells the story








                            Deacon  Brodie’s  Tavern


Nearby is Deacon Brodie’s Tavern situated opposite Brodie’s Close in Lawnmarket, which contains the house of one of Edinburgh’s infamous sons of the 18th century.   Deacon William Brodie was a much respected town councillor by day, but by night he led a completely different existence - that of a burglar!   He was eventually arrested for the burglary of the Excise Office in Chessel’s Court, for which he was tried and hanged in 1788, ironically on a gibbet which he himself had designed.

His story  is said to given  R.L Stevenson the idea to write the novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.



Tollbooth Tavern


The Tollbooth Tavern on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile became a pub in 1820 and is situated on the ground floor of the old Canongate Tollbooth which dates from 1591.

A plaque tells us that the building was used to collect tolls from travellers entering the Burgh and served as Council Chambers, Police Court and Prison. A suspected warlock is thought to have been exorcised here by one of the abbots and the terrified soul died soon after the experience. Many of Cromwell’s prisoners were detained here, as well as Covenanters. Many prisoners were sent to the Caribbean plantations for 7 years hard labour after which they could return. However, women had their faces branded with an iron whilst the men had an ear chopped off!



Jenny Ha’s


This relatively modern pub situated on the ground floor of a 1960’s building in Canongate at the southern end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, replaced a pub called Jenny Ha’s named after the 18th century landlady Jannet Hall. The old law of 1699 forbidding the employment of women in tavern’s, cellars and drinking shops as being ‘ a great snare to youth and occasion for leudness and debauchery ‘ had been challenged and severed. A woman who kept a tavern of the character of Jenny Ha’s was termed a ‘Lucky’ e.g ‘Lucky Ha’ the title signifying a ‘Guidwife.’

A fine stags head on the wall inside the pub came from a stag which was killed in nearby Holyrood Park by a man called Eck as he walked to work one morning at Jenny Ha’s. The stag was running amok amongst tourists in the park and at great personal risk Eck ‘nutted’ the stag twice knocking it insensible and then wrested it to the ground finally finishing it off with his knife.

This also reminds us that Canongate’s emblem is a stag’s head deriving from a story that King David 1 was hunting in the park in 1128 when a stag charged and knocked him off his horse and wounded him. To fend it off the King reached out and clutched a cross he saw in its antlers. The cross came away in his hand and the stag turned away and left him alone. Thankful to be alive, the King asked the Augustinian Canons to build the Abbey of Holyrood on the spot – the ‘Church of the Holy Cross’.

Also on the site of the old pub was a tenement known as Golfer’s Land, demolished in 1960, which had been built in the 17th century by shoemaker John Paterson from the winning stakes of a golf match. His partner in the match was no less that the Duke of York, later King James V11 who insisted that Paterson take all the winnings.


Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar


This Edinburgh pub is situated in Candlemaker Row near to its junction with George 1V Bridge and backs onto Greyfriars churchyard wherein is buried one John Gray, known as Auld Jock, who died in 1858. His dog ‘Bobby’ stayed by his graveside for another 14 years until the dog died. Bobby has been immortalised in stone by a very fine life size statue opposite the pub. The whole story has been immortalised in a film and a book.
Bobby's Bar 


Known locally as ‘The Sally’, The Salutation Hotel, with its impressive Assembly Rooms, (now the hotel restaurant), in South Street in the centre of Perth, is reputedly the oldest hotel in Scotland, and is a Grade B listed building.    In the early 1600’s it was a private house belonging to the Murray family ( Lord Scone & Viscount Stormont), and may have had earlier connections with the Franciscan Order of monks.  About 1699 the building became a coaching inn. It would appear that the impressive façade with its Black Watch Piper figure’s, was constructed c.1810.
It is said that Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied Room 20 on his march south in 1744 where he held meetings with his commanders who probably included one Colonel Bower.
A plaque on the front wall of the hotel refers to –  ‘The trial of Colonel Bower of Kincaldrum, Forefarshire at York. The only charge that could be brought against him was that he wore a white cockade in his bonnet, and had been seen shaking hands with Prince Charles Edward at The Salutation Inn in Perth.’  The charge was probably not upheld because the Colonel was actually cruelly killed at his Kincaldrum home in 1744 by government troops. The story goes that although concealed in a secret room, he was betrayed by his valet who was taken to a tree and suspended from a rope for a few seconds before he revealed the hiding place.  Bower was discovered and mortally wounded by a Dragoon’s saber before being tied by his long hair to the tail of a horse and dragged a short distance, before his life expired

The  Ramsey  Arms


The south west entrance to the small village of Fettercairn in Scotland  is adorned by a very fine archway.  This elaborate Gothic arch was erected by the villagers at a cost of £250 in 1864, to commemorate a private visit to the village by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in September 1861.
The Royal Party had travelled from Balmoral on pony back and on foot across Mount Keen to Invermark in Glen Esk.  After lunch they continued by carriage to Fettercairn to stay the night at The Ramsey Arms there.   Although the innkeeper and his wife were aware of the identity of their guests, the Queen hoped that her visit would remain a secret.   However, when she went for an evening stroll through the village she feared that she had been recognised when she heard a band playing, but was assured that it was a regular occurrence.   The next morning of course, a small crowd had gathered to cheer the Royal Party as they departed on their return journey to Balmoral.
The Ramsey Arms



Tigh-An-Truish Inn

Seil Island is separated from mainland Argyllshire by a narrow strip of the Atlantic Ocean, but connected by a fine arched bridge at Clachan, known as  The bridge over the Atlantic.’   Just over the bridge on the island is an old highland pub called  Tigh-An-Truish  or ‘House of the Trousers!’   Before the rebellion, highland soldiers were not allowed to wear the kilt whilst serving in the army and when they returned home on leave they changed into their kilts at the pub.
The Logierait Inn
This pub at Logierait near Pitlochry in Perthshire dates back to 1710 and is now a very fine pub and restaurant. Once upon a time part of the building was the village Court House and Gaol. In 1717 the infamous Rob Roy was detained in the gaol but managed to make his escape. It is also said that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 600 prisoners from the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 were detained here. More salubrious visitors are said to be when Queen Victoria used the privy here whilst on one of her outings and William Wordsworth in 1803, who was waiting for his sister Dorothy to inspect the Court House. An old ash tree, said to have been planted in 1579 and which had grown to a height of 63ft, situated behind the pub, was used for hangings. The last man to be hung was Donald Dhu who claimed to be innocent of his alleged crime of cattle stealing. On the night he was hanged, the tree was struck by lightning.
The Star Hotel

The Star Hotel in the High Street dates to the late 1700’s. This old inn, only 20 feet wide and 162 feet long, is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as being the world’s narrowest hotel.


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