Fancy a pint with a slice of history? (Or just want a bit more bang for the £7 price tag?) Pay a visit to the oldest pub in London. It’s up for debate which historic boozer actually snags the title, but here are five recommendations for your next ye olde pint.
These Are The Oldest Pubs In London
Which Is The Oldest Pub In London?
The Seven Stars is the oldest pub in London, built in 1602 right in the heart of the City. Naysayers may claim otherwise – and, granted, it’s hard to determine – but this pub has never been rebuilt or fully refurbished since it first opened, unlike other pubs vying for the historic title.
5 Of The Oldest Pubs In London For Your Next Pint
1. The Seven Stars
53 Carey Street, London WC2A 3QS
This cosy pub earns its title as the oldest pub in London for being a rare survivor of the Great Fire of London, which burned many of its competitors situated closer to the fire to the ground. Dating back to 1602, the year before Queen Elizabeth I took to the throne, this Grade II listed pub is tucked behind the Royal Courts of Justice and has ancient roof beams jutting out of the sloping ceiling and very old oak floors. It’s very plausible that Shakespeare had a drink here back in the day, and a quote from his play All’s Well That Ends Well (completed the same year The Seven Stars was built) commemorates this claim outside. Today, it’s a popular haunt for lawyers, journalists, church musicians, West End musicians and LSE students, drawing on this vibrantly historic part of London. thesevenstars1602.co.uk
2. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2BP
Though it narrowly misses out on being the oldest pub in London, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese can certainly claim the prize for best pub name. Situated on historic Fleet Street, this pub has roots tracing back to 1538, but it was, alas, burned down in the Great Fire of London (this be a common theme). The vaulted cellars (unburned) are thought to date back to a 13th century Carmelite monastery that once occupied the site. With the pub rebuilt just a year after the Great Fire – one of the first rebuilds; priorities – it became a popular haunt of Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain come the 19th century, despite (or, perhaps, because of) the pub’s eerie gloom. Step inside to feel like a veritable Victorian criminal: hardly any natural light penetrates the singular thick window on the facade, and there are gloomy corners aplenty. ye-olde-cheshire-cheese.co.uk
3. The Old Bell Tavern
95 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH
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A few steps down the road from Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is another ye olde pub: The Old Bell Tavern, dating back to the 1670s. It was built by architect Sir Christopher Wren for his masons, who were rebuilding the nearby St Bride’s Church after the original was struck by the Great Fire (coincidentally, Wren is one of two men behind the Monument commemorating the destructive blaze). Add this one to your list solely for the breathtaking interiors: the stained glass windows and bell over the door welcome you into a wood-clad space with lofty vaulted ceilings crossed with beams. nicholsonspubs.co.uk
4. The George Inn
75 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NH
London’s only remaining galleried inn – with cloister-like balconies – has a long, storied history, with a stronger claim that Shakespeare was a fan, as his plays were performed in the courtyard for many years during his life. Charles Dickens is also rumoured to have read his A Christmas Carol from the balcony. Originally named the George and Dragon, The George traces its roots to 1583, but it was rebuilt in 1676 after a different big fire, and today retains its charm with ales, wines, spirits and a menu of pub classics. greeneking.co.uk
5. The Hoop and Grapes
47 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AL
Date: Late 1600s
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Thought to have been constructed in the late 17th century, The Hoop and Grapes was originally called ‘Hops and Grapes’ to show it sold both beer and wine to passersby. A rare type of London construction – and therefore Grade II Listed – the pub has a timber interior and slightly crooked facade, immediately greeting you with its years; painstaking restoration has kept it standing all this time. Now operated by Nicholson’s, step inside for a wide selection of drinks – including hops and grapes, of course – and tasty pub grub to boot. nicholsonspubs.co.uk