This page attempts to explain the significance and meaning behind the Bell Inn Sign. Research is augmented with photographs of pub signs.


Inn Signs
Inn Signs

Background Information
There's something about the bell which has made it popular with sign makers over the centuries. Perhaps it is because it is said that the bell speaks all languages. Certainly there is a religious connection because, historically, bells featuring on pub signs usually refer to both church bells and hand bells. So if you spot a Bell pub sign you will usually see a church nearby. In earlier times, it was thought that the sound of bells could protect the listener during a lightning or thunder storm.

Another reason for the bell's prevalence in pub signs is the British have, traditionally, had quite a love-affair with the sound of them. Indeed, it was Handel who once claimed that they were the national musical instrument. Moreover, bells make an frequent appearance in some of the country's classic literature. For example, Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing includes the line 'He hath a heart as sound as a bell...' Not to be outdone, Keats used the line 'Forlorn! the very word is like a bell.'

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Our attachment to bells starts at an early age. How many of you remember the prestige associated with being able to ring the bell at school? Unfortunately, it went to Jeffrey Archer's head because he once told The Daily Telegraph 'I was allowed to ring the bell for five minutes until everyone was in assembly. It was the beginning of power.' It is quite common to see a single bell. However, they do appear in many numbers and eight is a popular number because this is the amount in a peal. Blue is the most common colour of pub sign bells because it is the colour of hope.
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Inn Sign
Inn sign of The Bell at Alcester [1990]

Inn sign of The Old Bell at Ryall [2010]

Links to other Websites
Inn Sign Society

Featured Inn Signs
Click here for a list of inn signs featured on the website, along with an overview of British pub signs.

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Ezra Pound
"The act of bell ringing is symbolic of all proselytizing religions. It implies the pointless interference with the quiet of other people.
Ezra Pound

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Bar Parlour Stained Glass

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Public Bar Stained Glass

Woman Serving Beer

Brewery Buildings