Boar's Head Inn
The Boar's Head Inn may refer to a number of former taverns in London, most famously a tavern in Eastcheap which is supposed to be the meeting place of Sir John Falstaff, Prince Hal and other characters in Shakespeare's Henry IV plays. An earlier tavern in Southwark used the same name, and an inn of the name in Whitechapel was used as a theatre.
A number of other taverns and inns have since used the name, typically with reference to Shakespeare.
The Boar's Head Tavern, on Eastcheap is featured in historical plays of Shakespeare as a favourite of the fictional character Falstaff and his friends in the early 1400s. The landlady is Mistress Quickly. It was the subject of essays by Oliver Goldsmith and Washington Irving. Though there is no evidence of a Boar's Head inn existing at the time the play is set, Shakespeare was referring to a real inn that existed in his own day. Established before 1537, but destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire of London, it was soon rebuilt, and continued operation until some point in the late 18th Century, when the building was used by retail outlets. What remained of the building was demolished in 1831.
Near the site of the original inn, architect Robert Lewis Roumieu created a neo-Gothic building in 1868, originally functioning as a vinegar warehouse, though since converted into offices. The building makes references to the Boar's head Inn in its design and exterior decorations, which include a boar's head peeping out from grass and portrait heads of Henry IV and Henry V. Nicholas Pevsner described it as "one of the maddest displays in London of gabled Gothic brick." Ian Nairn called it "the scream you wake on at the end of a nightmare."
There was another Boar's Head Inn, at Whitechapel, the courtyard of which was used as an Inn-yard theatre to stage plays from 1557 onwards, known as the Boar's Head Theatre. It was refurbished in 1598-99.
There was Boar's Head Inn, at Southwark, owned by Sir John Fastolf, who is the source for the character-name of Falstaff. While the Eastcheap Boar's Head Inn is not known to have existed during the reign of Henry IV, this inn may have done.
Other Boar's heads
There is also a Boar's Head Pub located at 161 Ontario Street, in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Stratford is noted for its long running annual Shakespeare Festival and its Shakespeare-themed street names, restaurants, hotels, and craft shops.
- Henry C. Shelley, Inns and Taverns of Old London, Boston, L.C. Page, 1909, p.21.
- Crawford, David, The City of London: its architectural heritage: the book of the City of London's heritage walks, Woodhead-Faulkner, 1976, p.56.
- Christopher Hibbert et al, The London Encyclopedia, Macmillan, 2011, p.263.
- Herbert Berry, The Boar's Head Playhouse, Associated University Presses, 986, pp.81 ff.
- Wm. E. Baumgaertner, Squires, Knights, Barons, Kings: War and Politics in Fifteenth Century England, Trafford Publishing, 2010, chapter "Sir John Fastolf".
- Sisson, Charles Jasper. The Boar's Head Theatre — An Inn Yard Theatre of the Elizabethan Age. Edited by Stanley Wells. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.
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