THE BLOG

Where Are the Ladies?

24/10/2014 14:54 BST | Updated 23/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Pubs in the UK are increasingly attracting female drinkers, so why are so few of them named after women? Queen Vics and Queen's Heads apart, there's precious few with real women's names.

If you dismiss pubs named after royalty, (one of my locals in West London changed its name with unseemly haste after the Royal Wedding to The Duchess of Cambridge) most of the boozers in the UK are named after men. There's The Churchill Arms, The Duke of Wellington and several Robin Hoods. But where's The Maggie Thatcher, The Emmeline Pankhurst and The Amy Winehouse?

The disparity struck me when I visited the Lady Ottoline in Bloomsbury. Formerly a bloke's boozer called the Kings Arms, the pub had been tastefully renovated and renamed after one of The Bloomsbury Set's leading ladies, Lady Ottoline Morrell. http://www.ladyottoline.com It was while dining under the beaky portrait of the eponymous Lady that I realised how few bars are called after real life female characters like her. 2014-10-24-smallladyOttolineExterior2.jpg

Having developed a thirst to track them down, I stopped off at The Lillie Langtry on London's Abbey Road .Best known now for the Beatles' album cover of the same name, back in the 1870's the St. John's Wood area was well known as the place for rich men to keep mistresses. It was here that Edward VII began a 3 year affair with the 'Jersey Lily'. I find another Lille Langtry pub on Lillie Road, Fulham. http://www.lillielangtry.com

Show girls, entertainers and mistresses seem to have been the inspiration for most pubs named after women. The Marie Lloyd in Hoxton (sadly now closed) was named after the Victorian music hall singer and The Nell Gwynne Tavern just off the Strand bears the name of Charles II's famous mistress.

The loose women theme continues outside London. Fanny on The Hill in Welling, Kent was named after a barmaid who shone her light to tell highwayman Dick Turpin the coast was clear. Poosie Nansies Inn in East Ayrshire, Scotland was a tavern frequented by the poet Robbie Burns and although there is debate over exactly who Poosie Nansie was, it's fairly clear she was a bawd.

There's no end of pubs called Molly Malone, of course, although there is no evidence the girl in Dublin's unofficial anthem ever existed. Further afield, Grace's in New York was named after Grace O'Malley, the notorious female Irish pirate.

On a more serious note, there is a pub called The Amy Johnson at Doncaster airport, aptly named after the town's famous flying daughter. There is an Eva Hart pub in Chadwell Heath Essex named after the Titanic survivor who died in 1996 aged 91.

The Charlotte Despard in Archway, London was named after the English born suffragist, Sinn Fein supporter, vegetarian and novelist. Now that's more like it! A real woman's pub. www.charlottedespard.co.uk

But back to Margaret Thatcher. The closest anyone has come to naming a bar after her is Maggie's, a private night club and bar not far from her former home in Chelsea. It is described as an '80s' themed venue' complete with the Iron Lady's speeches playing in the toilets, Thatcher memorabilia on display and for sale.

Sounds scarier than the nameless Wicked Lady in Wheathampstead and louder than The Quiet Woman in Derbyshire (quiet because she was headless, if the swinging pub sign is anything to go by)

Does anyone know of any other pubs named after real non-Royal women? If so I'd love to hear from you