The Cross Keys are the symbol of St Peter, the keeper of the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a common name for a pub in England, as pubs were always named after something that was important to the local community. As religion often dominated all aspects of daily life in Old England, the Cross Keys was a logical choice for a name of an inn or a public house.
The Cross Keys on Wood Street, in the City of London, was a posting inn where coaches terminated their journeys from the countryside, bringing post, parcels and passengers to the City.
This is also the inn where Charles Dickens arrived from Rochester as a boy, when his family embarked on a new life in London.
Later, in Great Expectations, Dickens tells the story of an orphan Pip, who travels to London to seek adventure. He arrives in the City here at the Cross Keys:
“The journey from our town to the metropolis was a journey of about five hours. It was a little past midday when the four–horse stage–coach by which I was a passenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Wood Street, Cheapside, London.“
And so, along with many others, great journeys did not end at the Cross Keys…they merely began…