Here’s a quick summary of the monarchs who ruled when your pub was established, plus one or two facts about each.
Henry VIII 1509-1547
A serial bridegroom, Henry VIII famously had two wives beheaded (along with two he divorced, one who outlived him and a sixth who just upped and died). He also “reformed” the church and forced Catholics to go into hiding (see The Ship). A bit on the heavy side, he had repulsively ulcerated legs – though no-one seemed prepared to point this out to him. Claimed to have written Greensleeves.
Edward VI 1547-1553
Edward VI was the only son of Henry VIII. A scholarly lad and a Protestant like his Dad (see The Ship), he died aged 15 which meant he achieved very little other than puberty. Desperate to keep the monarchy in the Protestant faith, he earmarked his young cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor. But his rampant Catholic sister Marty had other ideas and poor Jane lasted just nine days as Queen before being beheaded.
Mary I 1553-1558
Her childhood took a bad turn when she and her Mum (Catherine of Aragon) were replaced in Dad’s affections by Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth. A Catholic like her Mum, she married Philip of Spain and had several phantom pregnancies but no actual babies. Burnt a lot of Protestants.
Elizabeth I 1558-1603
Mary’s younger sister was famous for being a virgin (allegedly). Being a Protestant she was the object of numerous Catholic plots so surrounded herself with spies to keep her safe. Had plenty of male friends but never married (see: Ye Olde Mitre).
James I 1603-1625
Wheeled in from Scotland when Elizabeth produced no heir, James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots who Elizabeth had had beheaded. James was allegedly frightened of witches and easily duped by his medical advisors (see: The Old Doctor Butler’s Head).
Charles I 1625-1649
Famously believed in the divine right of kings. Charles I signed his own death warrant by finding himself a Catholic bride during a pro-Protestant era; imposing unfair taxes on the people and dissolving Parliament whenever it didn’t agree with him. Was beheaded at the Banqueting House in Whitehall (see The Old Shades).
Charles II 1660-1685
Restored to the throne after the Commonwealth period, the son of beheaded Charles I spent his reign trying not to upset anyone. He was a jolly chap with many mistresses including the orange-seller Nell Gwyn (see: The Nell Gwynne, The Dove, The Red Lion). Had no legitimate children.
James II 1685-1688
Charles II’s brother learned nothing from history and was openly Catholic. As a result he was pretty unpopular and the subject of many plots, the architects of which were generally put to death by Hanging Judge Jeffreys (see: The Town of Ramsgate and the Prospect of Whitby). He was eventually banished to France by his daughter and nephew.
William and Mary 1689-1702
Reigned together because William (of Orange) refused play second fiddle to Mary, his cousin and bride. Once in England William spent much of his time away fighting battles. The couple shunned the Palace of Whitehall – the traditional Royal seat – in favour of Kensington Palace because Whitehall’s central location aggravated William’s asthma (see The Goat). Perhaps this saved them from the 1698 fire? (see The Old Shades). Had no children.
Mary’s younger sister had loads of children but all of them tragically died in the womb or in infancy. Queen Anne’s legs are famous – not her own, but the ones on contemporary chairs and tables. Her actual legs weren’t much cop because she developed dropsy and had to be carried about in a sedan chair. Had a square named after her (see: The Queen’s Larder)
George I 1714-1727
Anne’s distant cousin turned up from Germany when she died childless but the fact that George I spoke no English went down like a lead balloon with the xenophobic British. A quiet, dour chap, he didn’t much like his wife. Nor his heir, come to think of it.
George II 1727-1760
Slightly less foreign than his Dad, the second Georgian nonetheless spent much of his time in Germany and earned his subjects’ scorn as a result. Like his Dad he managed to fall out with his heir, Frederick, who died before he could become king.
George III 1760-1820
Frederick’s son and George II’s grandson, George III had a bit of a tough reign on account of the American Wars of Independence, the French Revolution and so on. Maybe that’s why he went a bit mad. Spent a lot of time in Weymouth, swimming in the sea to help cure his madness. Unsurprisingly it didn’t work and his odious son had to step in as Prince Regent. His wife tried to stave off his madness with a special diet (see: The Queen’s Larder).
George IV 1820-1830
A bit of a nasty piece of work, George IV was extravagant, fashion-conscious and obese. He acted as Prince Regent during his Dad’s bouts of madness and when he was eventually crowned King he banned his wife from the coronation. Some say he poisoned her.
William IV 1830-1837
George’s nicer, younger brother had the common touch and would hobnob with his subjects and invite himself to dinner. William IV had 10 children by his long-term mistress but none by his wife, which meant his niece had to succeed him.
Victoria’s long reign included everything from The Crimean War and Charles Dickens to the Boer War and workhouses. She had nine children but was more interested in her husband, Albert, who died relatively young of typhoid. She wore black thereafter and blamed his death on her eldest son who was always getting into scandals. The Princess Louise was named after one of her daughters.
Edward VII 1901-1910
Despite his philandering Edward was a broad-minded fellow with more enlightened views on India and the Jewish community than his peers. He invented the Sunday roast and popularised the Homburg hat.
George V 1910-1936
A shy, stamp-collecting chap who didn’t want to be king but was left no choice after the death of his elder brother, Albert. Made a decent fist of it, particularly during the tricky First-World War years.
Edward VIII 1936-1936
King for less than a year, Edward VIII had no interest in state affairs and was generally a damp squib of a monarch (see the Prince of Wales). So it was good news when his liaison with an American divorcee forced him to abdicate even before his handsome face had had a chance to grace our coinage.
George VI 1936-1952
Like his father, George had no desire to be king and had never expected to ascend to the throne. But when his brother abdicated this quiet, stammering royal was suddenly forced into the limelight. Earned the respect of his subjects during World War II by staying in London rather than (sensibly) leaving town.
Elizabeth II 1952 – ?
Google her. She’s all over the internet.