The 15 oldest pubs in the UK, ranked according to their claims

While the world’s oldest bar is a hotly-contested title, “oldest pub” is an equally sought-after accolade, shared by many boozers scattered around the British Isles.

Image: Bazzadarambler/Flickr

Thanks to the rise of monasteries across the country throughout the middle ages, ancient alehouses have also emerged, with many far outlasting their holy roots and operating as businesses for centuries.

Many of these now claim to be the oldest watering holes in Britain, each with the documents to prove it.

The UK’s publicans take the history of their premises extremely seriously, and fiercely contest each others’ claims to fame.

From centuries-old liquor licenses to name-checks in the Domesday book, scroll through to see which pubs make the best cases for being Britain’s oldest boozers.

17 Responses to “The 15 oldest pubs in the UK, ranked according to their claims”

  1. I have made it a mission to point out that the Fighting Cocks isn’t even the oldest pub in in St Abans. It has been licensed premises only since 1600.

    • John says:

      the licensing of alehouses were introduced in the 17th Century but does not mean that before that time it was not an alehouse/pub.
      Ye Olde Fighting Cocks was a place of gathering where people came to socialise and, of course, hold cock fights – events which characterised the rural life of much earlier times.

  2. AL says:

    Guiness World records said The Bingley Arms is the oldest, not Fighting Cocks.

  3. Denzel Harrison says:

    You may need to reevaluate the meaning of the word “mission” and find something more useful to do with your time!

  4. Muciek says:

    Where is THE BELL INN from 1042 in Finedon???

  5. Michael Mallinson says:

    Re: The White Hart Inn, London, where the caption reads “In fact, Turpin even came in for a pint prior to his hanging in 1739”. It would have had to have been well before his hanging. He was living in and was then imprisoned in York for two years prior to his execution.

  6. N. Tarrant says:

    The Lamb in old town Eastbourne dates back to 1106 and has been a pub since this time.

  7. Joe Parker says:

    ye olde 6 bells in horley. i thought there was an establishment there in the 1200s

  8. T says:

    Looking for location: HalfMoon Tavern – London …Circa 1590 -1602 ?

  9. Jeff says:

    The Shakespeare tavern Durham city 1190AD

  10. Serge says:

    Colchester Essex …the oldest proven recorded town in the UK is missing on this list of impostors whomever wasted their time putting this together should reevaluate the research that was apparently done ..honestly Serge from America

  11. Lynn Cartlidge says:

    what about The Porch in Stow on the Wold 947AD

  12. Adrian Foster says:

    The original Red lion inn, now boasting branches throughout the UK, located in Llanafan Fawr, near Builth Wells, Powys is the oldest pub in the uk. Built from recycled ship timbers in the early 1100s and located opposite a two thousand year old yew tree in the local church yard, which also contains the remains of St Afan and a murder grave which names the victims murderer. This is truly a historic gem!

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