London Pub Signs – The Old Dr Butler’s Head

Once one of a number of pubs named after King James I’s odd court physician, Dr William Butler, the pub is now the last in the city to bear his image on  a sign.

Bearing the sign of Dr Butler’s head apparently meant it was among an exclusive number of pubs which offered the good doctor’s ‘medicinal ale’. According to ‘Historic Food‘, this was apparently made by hanging a thin canvas bag containing senna, polypody of oak, agrimony, maidenhair and scurvy grass in a barrel of strong ale, making what some have said would result in a strong laxative.

One couldn’t be blamed for being somewhat sceptical without even knowing the ingredients – other ‘cures’ the good doctor came up with included dropping patients suffering nervous disorders through a trapdoor on London Bridge into the Thames and firing pistols near someone to ‘scare away’ their epilepsy.

The pub, located at 2 Mason’s Avenue off Coleman Street in Moorgate, is said to have been originally built in 1610 and had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of London. It’s since been renovated several times.

For more on the pub, see