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Pubs named the Green Man

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2015-07-17. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-06-10.

'The Green Man' is a quite common pub or inn name in England, while the name of 'The Green Man and Still' is now much less common than it used to be. Public houses with these names usually have (or had) a sign showing a green-clad figure – now often hard to distinguish from a typical depiction of Robin Hood – or a "green man"[1] head. These pub names and signs were not originally connected with the Robin Hood figure, though in some cases they have later come to be. Since there are many Green Man pubs and their connection with the outlaw is only tangential, they are not given separate entries on this site. However, I include below a county-by-county list of map and literature references for such pub names found during my search for Robin Hood-related place-names, the sources being mainly the 6" O.S. map online at NLS. Unfortunately I only began to collect "Green Man" pub names after I had checked the maps of several – mainly northern – counties. The list therefore is not representative of all of England. A list of sources discussing "Green Man" pub names and the possibly related "green man" depictions follows the list of pub names.

Public houses named the Green Man

The map views linked to below are centered on the pub in question (or at least include it if it is too near an edge of the map to allow centering on it). Unless otherwise stated, the green men are indicated as "(P.H.)" (public house) on the maps. Where the pub is named "Green Man" eo nomine, I do not cite this. Where the map indicates the pub as "B.H.", i.e. a beer house, this is noted.

Bedfordshire

Cambridgeshire

Derbyshire

Essex

Hampshire

Hertfordshire

Huntingdonshire

Lincolnshire

London

Middlesex

Norfolk

Oxfordshire

Suffolk

Allusions

1857 - Sullivan, Jeremiah - Cumberland and Westmorland (2)

May-eve was formerly celebrated in this district with the Beltain, at which green branches were borne, a Scandinavian rite, apparently, superadded to the Celtic fire worship. The latter custom identifies itself with the Jack in the Green of the London sweeps, the intention having been to celebrate at this season, when Nature is awakening from the chaotic sleep of Winter, the myth of the creation. The singular sign called the Green Man, who is now [p. 166:] represented as wearing bright green, Robin Hood-like clothes, originated in the May festival. And the name of Maybrough, which, unlike that of its neighbour, the Round Table, is not modern, identifies that structure with the ceremonies of the same time.[2]

Discussion

Public houses

The Green Man in folklore and architecture

The concept of the "Green Man" in folklore is problematical. There is, for instance, no evidence that gargoyles and similar architectural ornaments and figures are anything more than decorative. There is no compelling reason to regard them as representations of a quasi-mythological entity or other mental construct, let alone interpret green men of 19th century May Day processions as representations of this same speculative entity or construct. Still more unfortunate is the fact that the Green Man concept has been appropriated by New Age fringe writers.

Notes

  1. Wikipedia: Green Man.
  2. Sullivan, J. Cumberland & Westmorland, Ancient & Modern: The People, Dialect, Superstitions and Customs (London; Kendal, 1857), pp. 165-66.