Apostrophes, Wetherspoons and the past

Written by John

Wetherspoons, the pub chain, have arrived in Hitchin, the market town in Hertfordshire where I live. And they’ve got themselves into a bit of a kerfuffle about apostrophes.

They bought up the old Conservative Club and converted it. I know Wetherspoons divide opinion among pub-goers, but they do at least make an effort to name their establishments after the building’s previous use or some other local association. Maybe HQ vetoed “The Margaret Thatcher”, and so they settled on preserving the name of a medieval pub which used to be a few doors down the road – “The Angels’ Vaults”. Fair enough – lots of angels in their vaults. And they put up their signage to that effect.

But they’d reckoned without local historians, who pointed out that the old pub’s original name was “The Angels Vaults’ Inn”. Fair enough again, I thought – our general philosophy at Accuracy Matters on replicating names (not usually of pubs, admittedly, more generally of companies and the like) is that – within reason – you go with the source, warts and all. I couldn’t really work out what the apostrophe was doing, other than proving that our medieval forebears were no better at deploying them than we are today, but no matter. Up went the revised sign.

Re-enter HQ (I imagine), equally puzzled by the apostrophe. Anyway, someone decided to settle the debate by getting rid of the wretched thing altogether. So, a third visit from the signage people, and we now have “The Angel Vaults Inn”. (Presumably the removed apostrophes have gone into storage for future use. “The Apostrophe Store” – there’s a good name for a pub. © Accuracy Matters 2015.)

In retrospect, they probably wish they’d chosen something else. And that the Curry Club nights might be a smoother ride. Three names before you even open must be some sort of record…