17 March 2017

Salisbury: pubs and their signs, 1

The lovely historic city of Salisbury seems as awash with public houses as it is with rivers – it sits at the confluence of no less than five – no wonder it was so foggy when I visited on a grey December day in 2016! Its public houses must number far more than five but I hadn’t time to explore more than a few streets in any direction from my hotel and the cathedral, and there were more than five in that small area alone. Here are just four that took my fancy.

The Cloisters
As I had just enjoyed a peaceful stroll around the large cloisters (the largest of any cathedral in Britain) at Salisbury’s magnificent cathedral, it was this pub’s lovely sign that initially caught my eye. The pub itself is in a Grade II-listed building, which the pub’s website says dates from around 1350AD but the British Listed buildings website, probably more accurately, dates to the 15th or 16th century, though it has had more recent modifications, with an early 1800s shop window on one side of the ground floor and a more modern shop front on the other. Given its cosy dimensions and advertised open fires, it sounds the perfect place for a winter warm up.

Queen’s Arms
This, too, is a Grade II-listed building, though the British Listed Buildings website reports it is a more recent 17th or 18th century construction, with 19th century alterations and a modern glazed shop window and door. The pub’s own website, however, says that, prior to becoming an inn, the building was ‘bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral in 1440’ and also that it was first licensed as an inn in 1558, the year Queen Elizabeth I took the throne, so it claims to ‘have the longest held continuous licence in the city of Salisbury’. Whatever the truth of the matter, I was particularly struck by the very literal interpretation of the ‘Queen’s Arms’ name on their sign and the thoroughly modern take on the queen, with a tat of a coat of arms on her arm.

The Wig and Quill
I was not able to discover anything about the history of The Wig and Quill, though it does appear to have a good reputation for a ‘Fantastic Sunday roast, warm fires, great seating and a good beer selection’. The bar features beamed ceilings and has open fires for winter warmth, plus there’s a sheltered courtyard garden in which to enjoy a cold drink in the warmer summer months.

I assume the name is a reference to the legal profession – perhaps solicitors and judges are frequent visitors, or it may be that the building previously housed offices of legal professionals, or perhaps there is a courthouse nearby.

The New Inn
Not one but two signs adorn the frontage of the New Inn – unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of the better, pictorial sign – but don’t you just love the badger symbol of Hall & Woodhouse, the brewery with which this pub is affiliated. 

And if this is the new inn, I wonder what the old one looked like, as this was a superb example of an old black-and-white building, all wonky angles and not a straight line in sight.

According to British Listed Buildings, this really is a historic building, with construction dating from around the 15th or 16th century, though it has seen a few changes since those early days. You can get a better look at the outside and some of the interiors on the pub’s website here

And what’s not to love about a pub that includes a photo of their cat in their photo gallery. Top marks, New Inn!

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