Like in any of Europe's oldest cities, a number of pubs in London lay claim to being the oldest in town. Still, the jury's still out on exactly which one is the absolute oldest.
So here are are a handful of pubs with some of the strongest arguments for being the oldest (or at least among the oldest pubs) in London.
Whether or not one of these fine drinking establishments actually is the indisputable longest-standing pub in London, one thing's for sure – they're all great and historic places for having a pint.
Beer-lovers arriving on flights to London should be sure to check out as many as they can.
Anchor (34 Park Street, Bank End, SE1 9EF): A favourite with the tourists (but the locals don't seem to mind), this riverside pub with plenty of outdoor seating and views of St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge is seemingly situated by design between Borough Market and Tate Modern. It's also really close to Shakespeare's Globe. Word around the pub is that the bard himself enjoyed more than a few drinks here at the Anchor. In 1666, the year Shakespeare died, another famed Londoner, Samuel Pepys, is said to have watched the Great Fire of London from this very pub, which was already around 100 years old.
Cittie of Yorke (22 High Holborn, WC1V 6BN): Not only among London's oldest pubs, this Samuel Smith pub is also home to the longest bar in the whole of Britain. People have been drinking beer at this same site since the 1400. Although renovated in the 20th century, the cavernous pub still retains much of its evocative and ancient charm, including it's massive centrepiece triangular fireplace with three faces and an underground flue.
George Inn (77 Borough High Street, SE1 1NH): The last remaining galleried coaching inn in London, the George Inn is owned by the National Trust and dates back to at least 1542. London Bridge, The Thames Path National Trail, Borough Market and plenty more local attractions make this a great place for a historic pit stop.
Prospect of Whitby (57 Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH): Believed to be London's oldest riverside pub and dating back to 1520, the Prospect of Whitby was a popular haunt of smugglers back in the 16th century. Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens are listed as some of the pub's more reputable guests. These days, it's a great place to drink real ales with locals and tourists alike lining up along the refurbished pewter covered bar.
Red Lion (23 Crown Passage at King Street, SW1Y 6PP): There are a lot of pubs with this same name here in England. In fact, it's the most popular pub name in the country. More than 300 years old, the publican claims to hold the second longest beer license in London. And this one may very well be the first to have been called The Red Lion. Visitors and local beer lovers have been gathering at this same site since 1434.
Seven Stars (53-54 Carey Street, WC2A 2JB): There are a lot of reasons to love this pub: a resident cat, a friendly staff, and truly great food and drink are but a few. Located behind the Royal Courts of Justice, Seven Stars has been a preferred watering hole for those in the legal profession and simply those with high pub standards for slightly more than 400 years.
Spaniards Inn (Spaniards Road, NW3 7JJ): Was it a tollgate? Or maybe home to a Spanish ambassador? Is it actually haunted? Whatever the case, the Spaniards Inn has been around long enough to garner plenty of great stories about it. Dating from 1585 and located on the beautiful Hampstead Heath, Keats, Shelly and Byron all liked it here. Rumour also suggests infamous highwayman Dick Turpin spotted his prey from the Spaniards. Already legendary by Victorian Times, Dickens gave the pub a mention in The Pickwick Papers.
White Hart (191 Drury Lane, WC2B 5QD): With one of the strongest claims to being London's oldest pub, but an interior that suggests it's hardly more than a decade or so old, the White Hart has the oldest continuous license in London, which dates back to 1480. In addition, it boasts a super convenient location and a great vibe.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet Street, EC4A 2BU): Rebuilt just after the Great Fire of 1666 with a pub at this very location since at least 1538, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a great one. Voltaire, Mark Twain, Samuel Johnson and all sorts of other folk have ambled in and out of this fabled establishment. It's definitely worth a visit.
Ye Olde Mitre (1 Ely Court, Between Hatton Garden and Ely Place, EC1N 6SJ): While it's not the easiest pub to find, efforts are rewarded by a friendly staff and great ambiance in this pub dating back to the 1540s. Although refurbished in the late 1700s, it still retains the qualities of a pub much, much older.
Image Credit: Chris Osburn (Author)
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