What Are the Old Inn Names?

What are the old inn names
by CJ McDaniel // May 23  

If you’re a fantasy or historical fiction fan, you’ve likely encountered an inn or tavern with a name that sparks curiosity and intrigue. These establishments, often central to the plot, bear names that evoke a sense of history, mystery, or even a touch of whimsy. But have you ever wondered about the origins of these old inn names?

Delving into the history of inn names takes us on a journey through time, revealing a fascinating tapestry of cultural references, local legends, and even a dash of humor. From “The Prancing Pony” in Tolkien’s Middle-earth to real-world establishments like “The Eagle and Child,” these names offer a glimpse into the past and the traditions that shaped them.

If you’re a writer or simply curious about naming, you might find inspiration in the Inn Name Generator and the Fantasy Name Generator. These resources can help you craft unique and evocative names for your own fictional taverns, inns, or other establishments. So, grab a pint of ale, settle in by the hearth, and let’s explore the captivating world of old inn names together.

What are the origins of the oldest inn names?

Inns have been a vital part of human history for centuries, providing travelers with lodging, food, and a place to rest during their journeys. The names of these establishments often carry a rich history, with some dating back to medieval times. But what are the old inn names and where do they come from?

One of the oldest inn names is “The White Hart,” which can be traced back to the 14th century. The white hart was a symbol of Richard II, and inns bearing this name were often associated with nobility and high status. Similarly, “The Red Lion” is another common inn name with royal connotations, as the red lion was a symbol used by English monarchs.

Other old inn names, such as “The King’s Head” or “The Queen’s Arms,” reflect a connection to monarchy and nobility. These names were often chosen to attract wealthy and important guests. “The Crown,” another popular inn name, also signifies royal associations and regal luxury.

On the other hand, some inn names have more humble origins. “The Plough” and “The Horse and Hounds” are examples of names that reference the activities and animals commonly found in rural communities. These names evoke a sense of simplicity and countryside charm.

“The Swan” and “The Three Tuns” are inn names that hint at historical trade connections. Swans were once used as marks of ownership by wealthy landowners, while the “tuns” in the latter name refer to large barrels used for storing ale or wine. These names suggest a focus on hospitality and the enjoyment of food and drink.

As time passed, new inn names emerged, reflecting changing societal values and preferences. However, the old inn names continue to hold a special place in history, offering a glimpse into the traditions and customs of bygone eras. Whether royal symbols, rural references, or trade connections, the origins of the oldest inn names provide a fascinating insight into the evolution of hospitality and travel.

How have old inn names evolved over time?

Old inn names often hold a sense of history and nostalgia, with each name offering a glimpse into the past. The evolution of these names reflects changing societal norms, trends, and cultural influences. From the quaint and traditional to the quirky and whimsical, old inn names have a story to tell about the places they represent and the times in which they were named.

In the early days of inns, names were often derived from simple descriptors of the establishment or its location. Names like “The White Horse Inn” or “The Red Lion Tavern” were common, serving as straightforward identifiers for travelers. These names provided a sense of comfort and familiarity, making it easy for patrons to locate and remember the inns along their journeys.

As society evolved and literacy rates increased, inn names began to take on more creative and imaginative themes. Mythical creatures, historical figures, and literary references became popular choices for inn names. Inns like “The Dragon’s Den” or “The Shakespeare Arms” added a touch of whimsy and charm to the hospitality industry, inviting guests to step into a world of fantasy and intrigue.

During periods of economic prosperity or cultural shifts, inn names often reflected the prevailing trends of the time. Inns named after famous battles or political events conveyed a sense of patriotism and solidarity, while names inspired by exotic locations or foreign cultures appealed to the growing curiosity and sense of wanderlust among travelers.

In recent years, old inn names have experienced a revival, with many establishments embracing retro and vintage themes.Titles reminiscent of a past age, like “Ye Olde Inn” or “The Rusty Horseshoe,” are favored selections for enterprises seeking to honor tradition and evoke nostalgia.

Despite the changing trends and influences, old inn names continue to evoke a sense of charm and character that endears them to patrons old and new. Whether rich with history or imbued with contemporary charm, the names of ancient inns stand as a tribute to the timeless allure of hospitality and the narratives inherent within each establishment.

Do any renowned historical figures have connections to the names of old inns?

In the world of old inn names, there is a rich history that often intertwines with famous historical figures. These names not only evoke a sense of nostalgia but also shine a light on the notable individuals who may have stayed or been associated with these establishments.

One such example is the “The Red Lion Inn,” a common name for inns that can be traced back to the days of British monarchy. The Red Lion symbolized royalty and frequently held associations with monarchs. Some historians believe that Queen Elizabeth I visited many inns called The Red Lion during her reign.

Another famous historical figure linked to old inn names is George Washington. In the United States, there are numerous inns and taverns named after the first president, such as “Washington Inn” or “Washington Tavern.” These establishments often bear a connection to places where Washington may have visited or stayed during his lifetime.

Similarly, Shakespearean inns like “The Bard’s Inn” or “Shakespeare’s Arms Inn” pay homage to the legendary playwright William Shakespeare. These names are not only a nod to his literary contributions but also suggest a place where admirers of his work can gather and appreciate his legacy.


In conclusion, the history behind old inn names is a fascinating look into the past. These names often have rich stories and connections to the local area, providing a glimpse into the traditions and culture of times gone by. Whether they conjure up visions of nature, industry, or historical occurrences, the names of ancient inns underscore the significance of conserving our heritage. Through delving into the meanings and origins of these titles, we can develop a richer understanding of the locales we explore and the narratives they encompass. Next time you pass by an old inn, take a moment to wonder about its name and the tales it may have to tell.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!