Origin of "ARMS" in pub names ie "the Builders ARMS"

My parents lived in the Hanson Arms Apartments for a while after they got married, in the early 60’s, in the DC area. There’s a Kings Arms apartment building near me.

I suppose it might be because it sounds like an English pub, and things that sound English sound classy to a lot of Americans. When I was a kid, my school bus went by a housing development that was named Coventry. The name was displayed in old-English typeface on the entrance to the development. I have since been told that the idea of a housing development named Coventry is rather amusing to people who have been to Coventry. It sounded English and classy then, at least to a fifth grader.

Or to people more familiar with the idiom than the place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Send_to_Coventry

I do believe you have given me the name for my pub, when I start one: The Armed Bear.

I was born near the Baker’s Arms, and I’d say that RolandRB’S ‘folk etymology’ is almost certainly correct - but only in this one case. The Baker’s Arms pub is near the Baker’s Almhouses, hence the name; but most pubs with ‘arms’ in the name come from the heraldic arms of the group concerned.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the name of the Baker’s Arms pub wasn’t some sort of Victorian joke or play on words.

Wassaily Booslaeugh of Riesengeborg.

The usual answer given is Adam.

Fuckin’ A!

You mean this doesn’t look like classy digs?

It has the whiff of elegance, I guess.

Skinner’s Arms, 114 Judd Street, right near Kings Cross station. A very traditional pub. Green King ales last time I was there. Judd was the man who gave the money to have the alms houses built in this case. I don’t know if the alms houses still exist.

An interesting case of “Arms” is the “Trinity Arms” in Brixton. There are three almshouses nearby.

I know that this idea that “Arms” equated to “Alms” has been rubished before but for old pub names ending with “Arms” there is a strong correlation with nearby alms houses. If it is just coincidence then it is a remarkable one. Maybe this is a good reason to do some “serious” research. :slight_smile:

I don’t think that what you are asking for exists in records. It is like trying to find the origins of slang words. No written records exist. It is something that just gets handed down though common usage.

For me, the most remarkable case of a pub name ending with “Arms” is the “Trinity Arms” in Brixton. There are three almshouses nearby all close together.

I don’t know if Alms got corrupted to Arms but anybody having the money to build almshouses would have their own coat of arms so perhaps using “Arms” in the pub name is fully appropriate.

I think this might be a good reason to go out and do some serious in-depth research! :slight_smile:

There are, however, a lot of alms houses, and a lot of pubs called the something arms. In a crowded city, it genuinely is coincidence that the two are sometimes nearby. Alms houses were strictly alcohol-free and would not have had any willing connection to pubs.

The words were also likely pronounced differently back in the day.

Even now, there are many erotic areas in England where they wouldn’t be pronounced alike.

There might be “erotic areas” in England, but when it comes to pronunciation, obviously what I meant to say was “rhotic areas.” Damn autocorrect.

Many what? :eek:

Damn You, Autocorrect! :stuck_out_tongue:

Just for fun I did a check on existing almshouses and picked on the Waterman’s almshouses in Penge and looked for a pub named “The Waterman’s Arms” and sure enough there was a pub in Penge, now closed, of that name. For me, with all these examples, it is too much to be coincidence. Wouldn’t these almshouses be the talk of the area when they were built? If so then perhaps pubs did not have names but acquired them from local talk about local features. Like I used to drink in the Roaring Donkey in Swindon. You could catch a taxi there and ask to be taken to the Roaring Donkey and you would be dropped off at that pub but the sign said “The Sunrise” or something like that. It actually is called the Roaring Donkey now but this is an example of a pub getting the name from some sort of local feature (there used to be a donkey that was tethered nearby that used to make a lot of noise when it wanted to go home).

Alms houses were often owned by guilds or other trade organisations, who might also, separately, have owned pubs where their arms were used as the sign. No need for scrabbling around for any other explanations.

We don’t know how people pronounced words back then so you could have a point.

I did another check and saw that there was a Tollemache Almshouses in Nantwich. I did a check on if there was a Tollemache Arms pub in Nantwich. There was not. But looking at the Wiki page for the Tollemache almshouses then it says they were also called the Wilbraham Almshouses. So is there a pub named The Wilbraham Arms in Nantwich? Yes there is.

As a counter example there is The Trinity Arms in Brixton with three almshouse complexes nearby and all close to each other.