Monday, November 24, 2008
The Five Alls
I was fascinated to read this explanation for a village pub sign of 1811.
'The five alls is a country sign, representing five human figures, each having a motto under him. The first is a king in his regalia; his motto, I govern all: the second, a bishop in pontificals; motto, I pray for all: third, a lawyer in his gown; motto, I plead for all: fourth: a soldier in his regimentals, fully accoutred; motto, I fight for all: fifth, a poor countryman with his scythe and rake; motto, I pay for all.'
I could only find a sign depicting The Four Alls.
There are people in the UK who visit and photgraph public house signs as a hobby - I wonder if they've ever come across The Five Alls.
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It is a very unusual name, isn't it. There is a pub called the Five Alls about 10 miles from where I live. I pass it each time I drive to visit my parents in law. I was so curious I looked up the meaning in my book of pub name derivations. It's a fascinating book and a made me realise how interesting pub names are as a source of social history.
Perhaps the fifth "all" is represented by the pub itself which "feeds all" or "comforts all."
In Medieval times these signs would usually show only three alls – the monk, I pray for all; the knight, I fight for all; the commoner, I work for all. Later a king and a lawyer were added,
The commoner, farmer or John Bull figure on the sign sometimes means - I work for all.
It very often depended on the whim of the sign artist and they were sometimes known to add a sixth character, The Devil - I take all.
Whilst researching my book on pub history I also found one source claiming that alls are the drippings from the beer tap, collected and resold but there is no evidence to support this.
Author: A Book About Pub Names
It’s A Book About….blog
Fascinating! Thanks for all that- I know after seeing the news item on local TV I've been looking out for unual signs. I know The Black Boy, was changed to The Black Buoy in Wivenhoe. Sometimes it was changed to a portrait of King Charles, or was it Bonnie Prince Cahrlie?
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