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2020-08-03 15.17.25

Warwick the Kingmaker’s Emblem The Bear & Ragged Staff 


What If Warwick The Kingmaker Was Keen On Making Other Chess Pieces Too?

Warwick was the most influential man in England during the 15th Century Wars of the Roses and his support ensured that Edward IV became King and then Henry VI was restored. His emblem, The Bear and Ragged Staff, was therefore a sign of his power and authority and he would not have sought to denigrate it in any way.

It therefore stands to reason that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, free from Kingmaker responsibilities, might well be less circumspect about the usage of his Bear & Ragged Staff emblem as the following messages he would receive from the managers of his various pubs ‘The Warwick Arms’ chain throughout the land would testify:

  • From Cosgrove Smith Manager The Warwick Arms Norwich. September 1461

Permission is sought, my Lord, to changeth the sign from The Bear & Ragged Staff to The Bare & Rat-Arsed Staff as it doth best describe the bawdiness that goeth on here amongst thy attendants.


  • From Nelly Dorrington Landlady The Warwick Arms Bristol January 1462.

Can you granteth permission, my Liege, to adopt thy emblem but tweak it to The Bare & Gagged Staff in accordance with the S & M evenings we haveth aplenty?


  • From Arthur French Boss The Warwick Arms Colchester June 1462.

As you are awareth, we now only catereth for thy old folk and our employees are all old and naked as this seemeth to keep younger patrons away, except for Hubert Pomfrey who cometh more often now. Permission is seeketh to change thy sign to The Bare & Sagged Staff to better getteth this across.


  • From King Edward IV regarding The Warwick Arms Manchester August 1462.

Hello Rich,

Could thy do summat about thy Innery near Salford. We haveth employed thy attractive naked workers to entice the scum supporting the Lancaster house in and divulge their secrets. It doesn’t helpeth thus, with the secrecy of this operation, that the manager has changed your signage to The Bare & Bugged Staff. Get this sorted.


  • From The Landlord of The Warwick Arms, Carlisle. April 1463.

My Liege, greetings from the outpost of Carlisle. Permission to changeth thy sign to reflect the niche we doth now cater to called The Necrophiliacs. It would pleaseth us greatly if the sign will now be called The Bare & Buggered Stiff. Thanking thee for thy time and consideration.


  • From The Manageress The Warwick Arms, Cleethorpes. May, 1463.

My Good Lord, since my husband left I have had long and sustained occasion to mistreat my subordinates who doth man this Inn with my wicked tongue. They hath demanded that you changeth thy sign to The Bare & Nagged Staff to better reflect this. I sayeth don’t listen to the lazy, good for nothing, bastards.


  • From Sam Lucal, The Warwick Arms, Telford. July 1463.

My Good Earl Warwick, we hath been forced by circumstance to taketh on attendants in the bar who are under curfew. As a temporary measure can we, by your Good Grace, calleth thy emblem The Bare & Tagged Staff?


  • From Percy Fuller, Manager, The Warwick Arms, Derby. October 1463.

As you may recall from thy recent visit, basically the Inn has become a good knocking shoppe. Permission please by your Good Grace be provideth to change thy sign to The Bare & Shagged Staff.


The intriguing possibility would then exist that other establishments down the ages would employ Bare and Ragged Staff. Billy Butlin’s holiday camp empire might then have foundered as at his first holiday camp based at Skegness in 1936, he would have needed to employ entertainers with scarlet fever, or severe sunburn, as his new Redcoats. Actually, it’s Skegness so just the scarlet fever. And there’s also the distinct possibility that a public executioner, recruited under the auspices of The Bare & Ragged Staff Scheme, might draw even larger attendances to view the ultimate punishment inflicted upon the miscreant, attracted by the possibility that it might not just be the condemned who is well hung.

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