There is much debate over which is the oldest inn in Britain with the Guinness Book of World Records listing 'Ye Olde Fighting Cocks' in St. Albans as the oldest, however there are numerous inns which also claim the record. The Fat Badgers can't claim to know the answer to this one but we do know that the criteria differs dependent on your viewpoint.
So, is it the oldest building or the longest serving which should be classed as the oldest ?
Well who knows if the longest serving had a
period when it ceased trading and should the site of a former mud hut in a Saxon
settlement which reopens as a pub in 1957 be included in the list ? Certainly,
if age of the building structure is the sole qualifying fact then the oldest is
without doubt, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem as the rock face which forms part of
the inn is 143 million years old !
Many thanks to Matthew Torrens who emailed us with the following article:
THE SKIRRID MOUNTAIN INN
First listed as a pub in legal chronicles in 1110, the Skirrids leaded windows look out over the Black Mountains. Once apparently used by the warrior prince Owen Glendower to saddle up before leading his men into battle against the English in the 1400s. Wall to wall flagstones, beams and a log fire all help to give a feeling of age which is complimented with good ales & food. The Skirrid was a courthouse many years ago where sheep rustlers were hanged for their crimes.
THE CLACHAN INN
The Clachan sits on a corner of the pleasant village green and claims to have had Rob Roys sister as a former landlady. Fraoch, a heather-based brew made from a 4,000-year-old Pictish recipe is served. A plaque by the door states Licensed in 1734 but details of its time before remain a mystery.
THE BINGLEY ARMS
Typical Yorkshire stone inn dating back to 1780 but previously known as The Priest's Inn where like many UK inns, the pub was used as the local court. Set in a pretty village, the local church records first mention the pub in 905 and indeed the inn itself has records dating the central part of the building back to 953. Now, the Bingley Arms is popular for its excellent quality meals.
YE OLDE TRIP TO JERUSALEM
Very well known inn built into the rock face under Nottingham Castle in the city centre. Documents exist that prove a castle brewhouse occupied the site before 1189, but further proof is not available. Trip originally meant resting place, and the pub purports to be a travel lodge where crusaders drew breath before heading off to slay Saracens. The year 1189 is mentioned the date Richard I became king.
THE OLD FERRYBOAT INN
Located on the bank of the River Ouse, the Ferryboat boasts a thatched roof and a well-kept garden. Archeological digs have suggested that the Ferryboats foundations may date back to 460 and records show that liquor was served as early as 560. The upper storeys were however rebuilt after a fire. In the lounge lies the grave of Juliet Tewsley, a young woman who took her own life after being rejected by a local woodcutter, Thomas Roul. She apparently reappears every March 17.
YE OLDE FIGHTING COCKS
Located alongside the River Ver, in the shadow of the wonderful St. Albans abbey, the Fighting Cocks has one of the strongest claims to be the oldest. Cockfighting was banned long ago, but the original pit is now one of the bars. Originally a medieval dovecote, but with documents that seem to prove that a pub stood here in 795. Some believe its the oldest true pub, as opposed to a tavern or inn with accommodation. It's also believed that Oliver Cromwell kept his horse in the bar when he stayed here.
THE EAGLE AND CHILD
Part of The Royalist Hotel, which claims to be the oldest hotel in the country. However, some believe that the pubs 16 years of closure invalidate the claim. The Eagle and Child Inn's name derives from Sir John Stanley in the 14th century. The inn has a tunnel that leads from the bar to the church across the street - there is also evidence of a bear pit. Still visible in the rooms are the witches' marks, an ancient frieze and the thousand-year-old timbers. Some Evidence even suggests that The Royalist began as part of a Saxon community as long ago as 514.
YE OLDE MAN & SCYTHE
This public house dates back to 1251, the date of the charter permitting a market, which was held in the area very close to this building. Only the vaulted cellar dates back as far, a datestone inside the building shows 1636 as a rebuilding date, and some of the internal beams and features are original from this time. There is a chair hanging in one room with the inscription "15th October 1651 In this chair James 7th Earl of Derby sat at the Man and Scythe Inn, Churchgate, Bolton immediately prior to his execution." He was apparently taken outside and executed for his part in the Civil War.