London pub signs – The Bear & Staff…

The Bear & Staff sign. PICTURE: Google Maps

This storied central London pub, located close to Leicester Square, dates back to 1714 although the current building dates from 1878.

The name comes from the crest of the Neville family, who were Earls of Warwick (most famous among them was Richard Neville, the “King-Maker”). It depicts a rampant bear chained to a ragged staff. (There is apparently an alternative explanation for the name with some believing the pub is named after a glazier named Augustus Beare who worked in the area in the late 17th century).

Among the stories associated with the pub, which is located on the corner of Charing Cross Road and Bear Street, is that of one 19th century landlord, William Heartwell, who lost his licence in 1858 after being found trading on a Sunday and (perhaps more significantly) robbery. The pub is also believed to have been frequented by early 20th century actor Charlie Chaplin – its restaurant is named in his honour.

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