At The Sign Of The Green Man
In late November last year I found myself staring up at a wonderful Green Man pub sign. Sadly I couldn’t pop into the Green Man In Flackwell Heath because it rang the bell for last orders and closed it’s doors to the public back in early 2010. A victim of the general decline in the pub trade, it’s lack of pub food, and possibly part of the fall out of the smoking ban introduced in the summer of 2007
Astonished that the sign was still intact I contacted the owners and explained that The Company of the Green Man would like to ensure that it was preserved as part of a very important British folkloric tradition and asked if they would be willing to donate it to our archive and help to play a part in saving a valuable symbol of Britain’s cultural heritage. I explained that we would ensure that the sign would be preserved for many generations to come.
The sign was painted by Peter Oldreive and is a common image used on Green Man pub signs (see also the Green Man Pub in Berwick Street in London.)
I’m really pleased to say that the owners agreed to our request and that although the pub has now been demolished the Green Man of Flackwell Heath lives on in the wonderful sign that now resides in our archive.
The Green Man as a pub name may have a number of sources beyond that of the Green Man of church and folklore, including from the Green Man and Still heraldic arms used by the Distiller’s Company in the seventeenth century. Some pub signs will show the green man as he appears in English traditional sword dances (in green hats). Or as the Wild Man associated with drinking and revelry and usually carrying a club like the current one adorning the Green Man in Flackewell Heath.
There is also a strange interconnection between the Green Man and Robin Hood. Indeed some Green Man pubs changed their signs to foresters or Robin Hood from shaggy green men used as a symbol of the Distillers’ company in the 17th century. Apparently there are no pubs in Robin’s own county of Nottinghamshire named the Green Man but there are many Robin Hoods. It also seems that some pubs are changing their signs back from images of Robin to that of the traditional Green Man himself
For the last three years I have been trying to create a comprehensive list of Green Man public houses current and historical throughout the UK. Our most up to date list is on our website at www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk
I would love to hear from anyone who knows of any I have missed, and it would be great if anyone who lives near one of the Green Man pubs on our list could go and visit it to check that it is still there and if possible get some photos of the current signage and the pub itself and if possible ask around for a little bit of history about the pub and it’s signage.
Any photos sent to us will be added to the pub section of the Company’s Flickr site. Copyrighted appropriately of course and details will be included on the website and blog.
I would also love to hear of any lost Green Men pubs and get hold of any archive pictures or historical information to add to the archive.