London Pub Signs – The Compton Arms…

The Compton Arms. PICTURE: Google Maps

While there’s said to have been a pub on this site since the 16th century, The Compton Arms is most famous for its association with George Orwell, being one of three Canonbury pubs the writer is said to have patronised.

The Compton Arms sign.

In fact, Orwell was so enamoured of the pub that it’s said to be one of the places he had in mind when writing a famous 1946 essay, The Moon Under Water, in which he describes his perfect pub.

Orwell is memorialised in the pub’s coat-of-arms which features an image of a moon over water.

The coat-of-arms also features references to local sporting legend Denis Compton after whom it’s named. Pictured are cannons representing football club Arsenal and swords from the Middlesex County Cricket Club crest – both clubs for whom Compton played.

The last item on the coat-of-arms are juniper berries – apparently a reference to the US hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg’s song, Gin and Juice (juniper berries being a key ingredient of gin). Snoop Dogg’s life story was featured in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton.

In 2019, the pub’s former publican, Malcolm Mant, released a book, 30 Years Behind Bars: My Life and Times Running the British Pub, which covered his time running pubs including the seven years he spent at The Compton Arms.

The pub at 4 Compton Avenue is a Free House. For more, see www.comptonarms.co.uk.