History society’s wrangle over name for restored building comes to a Head
It’s been centuries since the last bar-room brawl broke out there – but a decision to change the name of an historic Birmingham inn has caused uproar.
From next month the famous Saracen’s Head in Kings Norton, which won £4million when it won the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2004, will be known as Saint Nicolas Place.
The new name for the inn, first called the Saracen’s Head in the 1700s, has been brandished “meaningless” by members of the Kings Norton History Society.
Local people were told about the decision by Canon Rob Morris in the parish magazine for St Nicolas Church, which has owned the building since 1930.
He said the name-change is happening because people think the building – created by a rich wool merchant in the 15th century – is still a pub. It is also in recognition of more than a million pounds’ worth of investment put into the building after it was given to the parish by brewers Mitchell’s & Butler.
Claire Simpson, chairman of the society, said the rich history of the building was being “systematically obliterated”.
The 64-year-old, who has lead the group since 2002, said: “What is so ridiculous about the name they have come up with is that it says nothing about the history of the building.
“It’s been known by that name for a very long time. It won this prestigious prize as the Saracen’s Head.
“It’s a name people have grown up with, what they’re used to and what it’s always been called in living memory and beyond.
“It’s very sad. A lot of pubs have had their names changed but they have been forced to change back because people don’t like it, they like what’s familiar.”
The Very Rev Morris said the church consulted with its congregation of more than 300 and the Friends of Historic Kings Norton.
He added the site is now home to heritage, community and education centres and a church office. It will also preserve its old identity with a coffee shop called the Saracen’s Head Cafe.
“By far there was a clear view that a change of name would be good as long as the story of the Saracen’s Head is told within it,” said Mr Morris. He said the idea to change the name was first raised last year. It was brought up again in April.
Mr Morris said: “Many of those who love the Saracen’s Head don’t realise how many people, even in Kings Norton, have no idea the building is not a pub.”
A naming ceremony will take place on on December 6.