The King’s Head is a common name for a pub in England, I believe it is second only to The Red Lion as the most common pub name there is. My hometown of Stroud has no less than three King’s Heads in it’s district and may have more yet to be discovered, this is possible since I seem to discover a new pub each week.
The name of the pub generally come from the seventeenth century when Charles I was executed by parliamentarian forces. He was beheaded and so the pub is showing support for the execution by naming itself after the result of the execution. The sign for the pub is generally a picture of the late king’s head, often taken from the King’s favourite portrait.
However there is one pub in Gloucester where the king who’s head is shown is Henry VIII, this is interesting since Henry VIII was not executed, but had many of his courtiers executed, including two of his six wives. Therefore I deduce that rather than meaning the King’s Head as in the head belonging to the King, it means the King is head, as in head of the church. This was showing support for Henry taking over the church leadership at this time to secure his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. This was a political statement of support for the King.
This interestingly turns my first statement around, for, if it is taken as “the King is head” it would be a very Royalist statement, at a time when supporting the wrong side could mean death this was a clever political move since it meant that the owner was showing support for both sides of the civil war.
And you thought it was just a name for a pub