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


Inn Signs
Inn Signs

Background Information
The first two illustrations are from the same signboard in Worcester and date from 1990, not too long before the establishment's name changed to The Cricketers'. The inn had a close relationship with the adjacent theatre which finally closed in 1959. However, as the pub served refreshments to both actors and patrons for many years the name of The Shakespeare was perhaps almost inevitable.

Commissioned by Mitchell's and Butler's, the first signboard features The Red Lion, an Elizabethan playhouse erected in 1576 by James Burbage. Located in Shoreditch, the theatre was outside the walls of the City of London and, as a result, out of the clutches of the authorities who did not approve of theatrical companies. When the building was dismantled, the timbers were used in the construction of the Globe Theatre on Bankside.

The characters featured in the sign's illustration are Sir John Falstaff, who can be seen courting two wealthy married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. It is a story in which the key themes include love and marriage, jealousy and revenge, social class and wealth.

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In the second illustration we see Nick Bottom, a member of a theatrical troupe called "The Mechanicals" featured in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." He plays the role of a weaver in a play-within-a-play. However, during rehearsals for "Pyramus and Thisbe," his head is transformed into that of a donkey by Puck, dubbed a "mischievous sprite and minion" of Oberon, king of the fairies [pictured on the right in this sign]. Whilst singing in the woods Nick Bottom awakens the Fairy Queen Titania [pictured on the left], who falls in love with him, that is until she is released from a spell placed upon her by Oberon. Suddenly, she finds the ass abhorrent. Some academics consider this to be an allusion by The Bard in conveying the unacceptable love between a commoner and a royal.
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Inn Sign
Inn Sign of The Shakespeare Hotel at Worcester [1990]

Inn Sign of The Shakespeare Hotel at Worcester [1990]

Inn Sign of The Shakespeare at Birmingham [1989]

Inn Sign of The Shakespeare at Coventry [1990]

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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William Shakespeare
"I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.
William Shakespeare

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Bar Parlour Stained Glass

Beer and Pipe Smoker

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Public Bar Stained Glass

Woman Serving Beer

Brewery Buildings