Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Green Man

I've only just got round to picking up a copy of Jacqueline Simpson's recent book on the folklore of pub names (1). It is the kind of well-researched delight we have come to expect from her, and I'm enjoying it very much.
I'm also extremely chuffed to find myself mentioned in the acknowledgements there. When she was researching the changing iconography of Green Men in pub signs, Jacqueline had asked around for any images people might have. She was thus able to describe a number of signs, including 'The Green Man on the corner of Plashet Grove and Katherine Road (London E6) [that] shows a "wild man" figure carrying a tankard and standing next to a barrel' (p. 121).
Here's the photo on which she based that description. I'd taken it in part because the pub was closing down, and I felt there should be some record of the motif in use there before evidence of it disappeared. The building was subsequently demolished, and a block of flats is nearing completion on the site.
There had been quite a lot of local interest in the pub because it was one of the older buildings in the area. (Although it wasn't a great pub by the time I knew it). I'm pleased that such interest can also be used to inform other research.
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1: Jacqueline Simpson, Green Men and White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names (London: Random House, 2010).


  1. Nice sign!. Somehow has a feel of the 1970's about it. Do you know when it was made?

  2. Not sure if this can help you at all with your research but I am writing a small book of the folklore of Chagford in Devon and have collected a few ghost stories. I myself am not a believer in ghost (but not a committed un-believer either!) but the stories I got where definitely from people who believed in (and encountered) ghosts. If I could help at all I would be very happy to. If you want I could send you rough drafts I have done of the relevant chapters (if you don't publish them else where outside of academia!).

    If you think I could help at all leave a note on my blog -

    Cheers, Thomas

  3. Hi Thomas, thanks for your comments.

    Re the dating of the pub sign: everything else about the pub suggested this belonged with a lick of paint sometime in the '80s/early '90s. It may look older than it actually was because of the pigeon droppings and general disrepair - the pub was already slated for closure when I took the picture, and had long been neglected.

    Interestingly, the image itself belongs with earlier Green Man images, rather than the more recent foliate head type. It's this shift in sign imagery that Jacqueline Simpson's describing in the book.

    Re your ghost stories - yes please! I'll leave you a note separately.