In the throes of getting ready for our second big event, the English Fayre at St. Peter’s Anglican Church , I am pausing to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far at The Hare & The Hart. It’s already been an amazing journey, and we are meeting some pretty incredible folks along the way. My head is spinning and my heart is oh-so grateful.
One of the most-asked questions we field is: “Where did the inspiration for your name come from?” The “Hart” portion of the name is obvious – it’s our last name!
However, through the years, our moniker has been linked with things like Valentines Day and the feeling of love. As an elementary school teacher for years, countless heart-shaped gifts were bestowed upon me with affection, and I have adored each one.
In actuality, the word “hart” means an adult male deer, especially a red deer over five years old. See https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hart. (I especially recommend clicking on the pronunciation button to hear it said with an English accent; so very charming!) It comes from an old English word and was used in medieval times to describe a fully antlered stag.
Legends abound about the rare white hart in English folklore (read http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-514249/How- magical-white- hart-inspires-legends- thousand-pubs.html), and most self-respecting villages in England can boast a pub by the name of The White Hart. We stumbled upon several on our recent trip to the Cotswolds. Of course, we had to get a shot of Chris in front of one of such eponymous inns. This one is in Stow-on- the-Wold, a stone’s throw from where we stayed in Lower Oddington.
In more current mythology, think Harry Potter and his Patronus in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, or the white stag that the Pevensie children hunted as kings and queens toward the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.
So, now we’ve established that the word, and hence the name, “hart” does not mean a vital organ, nor does it mean a symbol of love. Hand over heart (pun intended), I frequently have needed to spell out our 4-letter surname because it gets misspelled more times than not. But it truly is a fun last name to have, no matter how confusing it can be. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Choosing names for our children was interesting, as we found that we really needed to test out how the whole name sounded. For instance, one consideration for our son’s first name was to use my maiden name, Coleman. However, I knew that it would get shortened to Cole, and putting it together with Hart made it sound like “cold heart” (and who can forget Paula Abdul’s anthem to cold-hearted snakes everywhere in the 80’s?).
Later, as we dreamed of names for our new business, we found that one could come up with multiple iterations of plays-on- words, like “From the H(e)art”. However, none had the imagery that I wanted to evoke.
Because we wanted the business name to exude our lifestyle of “English at heart with a Southern soul (and a French twist!)”, we were searching for inspiration, and the timing of that search happened to coincide, as so many wonderful things do, with our trip to England with two other couples, dear friends and fellow Anglophiles. Among many things English, we love the pub culture: the décor, the food, the coziness of it, and how it truly is an extension of the Brits’ home and family.
We were so very fortunate to eat at many such establishments (and to be a fly on the wall in small village pubs, but that’s another story). Some favorites were Sheep on Sheep Street and The King’s Arms both in Stow-on- the-Wold, and a lovely pub with outdoor seating in the shadow of the clipper ship The Cutty Sark in Greenwich called The Gipsy Moth … excellent Sunday roast!
A pub that we passed many times whilst walking to and from the London neighborhood of Pimlico (where our friend Christie found us an adorable flat via www.airbnb.com) is called The Jugged Hare. While the timing was never right for dining there, we did peek in, and I fell in love with the whole place… and I have to admit that I was slightly coveting its décor, which includes a cheeky bronze statue of a reclining hare. (If visions of Mr. McGregor from Peter Rabbit frequent your nightmares, you will not want to look up the meaning of jugged hare; do not say I didn’t warn you!)
I’ve forever loved the jauntiness of hares: they are long and lean in body, leg, and face and are rather untamed in attitude, complete with sharp elbows and long, ridiculous ears.
So much more interesting than cuddly bunnies! I have had them scattered throughout our home’s décor for years: a concrete statue on top of our brick mailbox, a needlepoint pillow here, a candlestick there. And, like the hart, the hare has lived in English legend for centuries. See the photo of a magazine tidbit I read while staying in the Cotswolds cottage that our friend Belinda found for us via https://www.jigsawholidays.co.uk/cottages/longwood-house/.
All of which culminates into one huge epiphany that dawned on me while standing in front of The Jugged Hare one fine morning last September! Why not combine our love of the two fine creatures with our affinity for English establishments and choose a name that evokes that old English feel of a pub (with the added quirkiness of alliteration)? And why not create a logo that hints at the modern pub culture while paying homage to the colors of the Cotswolds?
And thus, the name The Hare & The Hart was born.
(Ask a short question, and you’ll get a long answer, I always say!)