THE English pub is often said to be at the heart of every local community and some have been in existence for well over 1,000 years – if you believe the stories.
While the claim to be England’s oldest pub has been lost in the mists of time these inns are well worth stopping off at for a pint or two.
What is the oldest pub in England?
In short, no one knows for sure although it seems there are two main contenders to the title, according to Historic UK.
The Old Ferry Boat Inn
This picturesque thatched pub is situated in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, and overlooks the Great Ouse River.
It’s considered by many people to be England’s oldest pub.
The inn has been serving alcohol since 560 AD, according to legend.
The pub does get a mention in the Doomsday Book though and like any self-respecting ancient hostelry it is said to be haunted.
The Porch House
Once known as the Royalist Hotel, The Porch House in Stow-on-the Wold in the Cotswolds also has a strong claim to the title.
The Guinness Book of Records has authenticated it as England’s oldest pub certifying it as dating from 947 AD.
The 16th century stone fireplace in the dining room is inscribed with symbols identified as “witch marks”, to protect against evil.
Other pubs worthy of an honourable mention are:
The George Hotel
Although not really classified as a pub nowadays The George Hotel in the market town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, stands on the site of a medieval inn and boasts a history going back 1,000 years.
It was once owned by the Abbots of Croyland.
In later years the George became an important stop on the coaching route from London to York.
While it has now been extensively modernised it still has some ancient features including the remains of an ancient chapel as well as its original gateway.
The Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn in Rye, East Sussex, typifies the smugglers’ inn, with cellars built in Norman times and secret passageways in some of its rooms.
It was originally constructed in 1156 and rebuilt in 1420.
The notorious Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers are said to have drank there in the 1730s.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
This Nottingham boozer claims to have been in existence since 1189, although it seems there is no documentary evidence to back this up.
The pub is quite a curiosity as it is built into the rock which Nottingham Castle is built on.
Once inside you can have a drink in caves that have been carved out of the rock, and peer at curiosities including a cursed ship which is said to kill anyone who cleans it, and a chair which is said to increase one’s chances of becoming pregnant.
The Shaven Crown Hotel
The Shaven Crown is situated in the picturesque Cotswolds village of Shipton under Wychwood and dates from the 14th century.
It was founded by monks of Bruern Abbey to give food and shelter to pilgrims.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was seized by the Crown and later used by Elizabeth I as a hunting lodge.
The George Inn
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The George Inn at Norton St Philip, Somerset, claims to have had a licence to serve ale from 1397 and also claims to be Britain’s oldest tavern.
It certainly has a fascinating history.
Diarist Samuel Pepys passed through here on his way to Bath from Salisbury. Later in 1685 during the Duke of Monmouth’s Rebellion, the inn was used as the headquarters of his army as they retreated from Bath.
After the failure of the rebellion the infamous Judge Jefferies used the inn as a courtroom during the Bloody Assizes; 12 people were then taken and executed on the village common.