The name is for the Dukes of Devonshire, holders of a peerage and members of a wealthy aristocratic family related to the Cavendishes. In areas where they held land, as at Chatsworth, Derbyshire and in Chiswick, there are often both Cavendish Arms and Devonshire Arms pubs and street names preserving the names of both families, while at Chatsworth the pub name "The Snake" refers to the family's coat of arms. The Snake Inn, a coaching inn on the old turnpike road on the Snake Pass in the Peak District of Derbyshire, similarly gets its name from the Devonshire emblem.
The "Duke of Devonshire" in Balham High Road is a Victorian era corner pub with traditional pub glasswork from the late 1890s, included "an impressive, mirrored bar-back" with original counter and wooden panelling.
The mock Tudor Devonshire Arms in Camden, also known as "The Dev" or by its previous name The Hobgoblin, is said to be "London's most famous alternative venue". It was the first Goth subculture pub in Camden. It is the longest-surviving Goth pub in London and has been a focal point for the city's alternative scene for many years. During the 1980s, Spider Stacy and Shane MacGowan of The Pogues frequented the pub. The interior featured in "Goths", an episode from a 2003 BBC anthology series, Spine Chillers.
The Devonshire Arms in Chiswick's Devonshire Road (also named for William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire) is a gastropub, formerly known as the Manor Tavern. The current building dates from 1924, but a pub already existed on the site in 1888.
In Derbyshire, where the Devonshire / Cavendish family has its great house at Chatsworth, there are Devonshire Arms pubs at Baslow, Beeley, and Pilsley, the last two both on the Chatsworth estate.
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- Polly Vernon (24 May 2008). "London's most famous alternative venue does a roaring trade in Snakebite and Black, and mysterious - and very potent - shots". Cocktail girl. The Observer. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- Carol Clerk. Kiss My Arse: The Story of the Pogues. p. 144. ISBN 0-85712-019-0. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
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- "The Devonshire Arms Pilsley". Retrieved 22 February 2016.