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



 

Inn Signs
Inn Signs
Royal Oak

Background Information
There were once over 500 examples of this sign around the country, making it one of the most popular of pub names. Its origin goes back to the days of Charles II who, along with Colonel Carless, avoided capture by Roundhead soldiers pursuing him after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The king and his comrade hid from noon to dusk in the Boscobel Oak, near Shifnal in Shropshire before making their escape.

Following his restoration to the throne it was declared that 29th May, the King's birthday, should be celebrated as 'Royal Oak Day' as an act of thanksgiving. The sign's wide appeal attests to the monarch's popularity during this period and inns and taverns around the country proudly named their pub The Royal Oak.

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As is the case with this first example at Charlemont, the sign usually combines a tree with full foliage and a crown although some actually show the king himself hiding in the tree - as in the examples from Alcester.

There are some signs which, rather than illustrating a crown, display the medal which was struck to commemorate the King's hiding, though this is quite a rare sign. I do know of one at Newingreen near Hythe - does any reader know of any other examples?

Inn sign of the Royal Oak at Painswick [2002]

This sign can be found at the Royal Oak Inn at Painswick. Located in the Cotswolds, it has no association with the actual hunt for the king but, like the great majority of Royal Oak signs, commemorates the fact that King Charles avoided capture.
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Inn Sign
Inn sign of the Royal Oak at West Bromwich [2002]

Inn sign of the Royal Oak at Alcester [1990]

Inn sign of the Royal Oak at Alcester [2001]

Inn Sign for the Royal Oak at Tansley [2003]

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Inn Sign Society

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

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Quotation
Thomas Carlyle
"When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.
Thomas Carlyle

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Inn Sign for the Royal Oak at Tansley [2003]

 

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