London, the vibrant British capital, is not just a bustling metropolis known for its iconic landmarks and cultural attractions. It’s also home to some of the oldest pubs in the world, each with its unique history and charm. From traditional British boozers to riverside taverns, these ancient pubs offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past. This guide will take you on a tour of some of these historical taverns, each with a story to tell. London’s Historic Pubs:
1. Mayflower Pub
The Mayflower Pub, often referred to as the oldest pub on the river, is a historic Rotherhithe pub with a rich history. Named after the famous Mayflower ship that sailed to America in 1620, this pub is a must-visit for history buffs. Its location offers stunning views of the Thames, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely drink. For directions and more information, visit here.
- Address: Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe, London, SE16 4NF
2. Spaniards Inn
Nestled in the heart of Hampstead, the Spaniards Inn is a legendary pub with a literary past. This rickety building has been a favourite haunt of many famous writers, including Dickens and Byron. Its charm lies in its old-world ambiance and its reputation as one of London’s most haunted pubs. For more on its history and how to get there, check out this guide.
- Address: Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JJ
3. Prospect of Whitby
The Prospect of Whitby, once known as the Devil’s Tavern, is a waterside pub with a notorious past. Frequented by smugglers and infamous characters in the 17th century, it’s also said to have been a favourite of Charles Dickens. Today, it offers a unique riverside drinking experience with stunning views of the Thames. For more information, check out this guide.
- Address: 57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London, E1W 3SH
4. George Inn
Located in Southwark, the George Inn is a galleried coaching inn that dates back to the Shakespearean era. It’s mentioned in Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’ and is a must-visit for literature lovers. Its proximity to the Thames Path makes it a great stop for those exploring the river. For more details, visit here.
- Address: 77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH
5. Old Bell Tavern
The Old Bell Tavern, a Fleet Street pub, is known for its exceptional architecture. It’s said to have been built by Sir Christopher Wren for his masons, who were restoring St Bride’s Church after the Great Fire of London. For more on its history and location, check out this guide.
- Address: 95 Fleet Street, City of London, London, EC4Y 1DH
6. Seven Stars
Tucked away in Holborn, the Seven Stars is a pub steeped in legal history. Known for its close ties to the legal profession, it’s often filled with barristers and solicitors from the nearby courts. Its original name, the League of Seven Stars, refers to the seven provinces of the Netherlands, a nod to the Dutch who sought refuge in England in the 17th century. For more information, visit here.
- Address: 77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH
7. Lamb and Flag
The Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden is a 17th-century pub with a colourful past. Once known as the “Bucket of Blood” due to the bare-knuckle fights it hosted, it was also a favourite of Charles Dickens. Today, it retains its old-world charm, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. For more details, check out this guide.
- Address: 33 Rose Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9EB
8. Hoop and Grapes
The Hoop and Grapes, located in the City of London, is one of the few surviving timber-framed buildings in the city. It narrowly escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666, and today stands as a testament to the city’s resilience. For more on its history and location, visit here.
- Address: 47 Aldgate High Street, Aldgate, London, EC3N 1AL
9. The Wrestlers
The Wrestlers, a local pub in Highgate, is known for its traditional cask ales and hearty Sunday roasts. But it’s not just the food and drink that draw people in. Every year, on the first Sunday after the winter solstice, the pub hosts a unique ‘Horns’ ritual, a tradition dating back to the 19th century. For more information, check out this guide.
- Address: 98 North Road, Highgate, London, N6 4AA
10. The Guinea
Located in Mayfair, The Guinea is a pub and steakhouse known for its British beef. It’s been serving dry-aged steak and local fish since 1952, making it a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Its cosy interior and friendly staff add to its charm, making it a must-visit when in London. For more details, visit here.
Address: 30 Bruton Place, Mayfair, London, W1J 6NL
A Taste of History
Each of these pubs offers more than just a pint of beer. They serve up a slice of London’s history, a chance to step back in time and experience the city as it was centuries ago. From the Mayflower Pub, the departure point of the famous ship that sailed to America, to the Spaniards Inn, a favourite haunt of Dickens and Byron, each pub has a unique story to tell.
A Feast for the Senses
But it’s not just about history. These pubs also offer a feast for the senses. The smell of traditional British food, the sound of lively chatter, the sight of ancient, timber-framed buildings – all these combine to create an experience that’s uniquely London. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just someone looking for a good time, these pubs have something for you.
The Heart of the Community
These pubs are more than just historic buildings; they’re also the heart of their communities. They’re places where locals gather to catch up, celebrate, and unwind after a long day. They’re places where friendships are forged, stories are shared, and memories are made. And they’re places where everyone is welcome, regardless of where they come from or what they do.
So next time you’re in London, don’t just visit the usual tourist spots. Take a detour and explore some of the city’s historic pubs. You’ll not only get to enjoy a pint of traditional British ale, but you’ll also get a taste of London’s rich history and vibrant culture. And who knows? You might just find your new favourite spot. For more on London’s attractions, check out this comprehensive guide.