As long as we humans have been enjoying an alcoholic beverage, there have been public houses from which to sell said brew. And in a city steeped in history, naturally, you would expect one or two of London’s watering holes had been established for a fair few hundred years!
Should you find yourself tramping the streets of London in need of cold one to cool you down, or indeed a glass of red to warm your blood, then pay no attention to the glaring lights of the nearest Wetherspoons, and dip into one of the following historic haunts…
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
A Grade II listed pub at 145 Fleet Street, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is currently owned and operated by Samuel Smith Breweries. There has been a pub on its location since 1538; however the current structure was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Hardly visible from the main thoroughfare of Fleet Street, an accessible via an alleyway, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is pretty unassuming from outside; however, the establishment continues to draw interest due to its distinct gloomy charm.
Once inside, the wood panelling detail will take your breath away, and in winter, the open fireplace lend a burnt orange glow to the interiors whilst warming the skin of your cheeks.
The Nags Head
Situated in a quiet Knightsbridge street, The Nags Head has a distinct character that is, well, all of its own! Stacked full of old penny arcade game and enshrouded by low ceilings and wood panelling, the pubs charm draws attention from a range of people, old and young.
With background music provided by CD’s chosen by the bar staff, the pubs independent vibe is nurtured by the landlord who can often be seen chatting to customers.
Cittie of Yorke
Another Grad II listed public house, located on High Holborn, Cittie of Yorke was rebuilt in the 1920s having been on the site since 1430. The Cittie of Yorke operated as a Coffee House as many years, which is reflected in the stylised wooden booths within.
Once through the door, be prepared to have your breath taken away; the spaces are fantastic, with nods to Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture and decor. During the week, workers from nearby Holborn, Fleet Street and Grays Inn Road descend, so evenings can get quite busy. But a quiet pint on a Saturday can most certainly be enjoyed.
Built on the site of Newgate Prison, The Viaduct still retains five cells visible from the basement. The pub is the last surviving example of a 19th Century Gin Palace & Opium Den and has been wonderfully kept, restored and taken care of throughout the years.
Located on Newgate Street, a five minute walk from St Pauls, this quaint little pub is always busy of a weekday evening, with patrons often spilling out onto the streets being unable to fit inside the small space!
The Lamb is a Grade II listed pub on Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury. Built in the 1720’s, both the pub and the street were named after William Lamb, who had built a water conduit along the street in 1577. The pub, frequented by local resident Charles Dickens, is one of the only remaining pubs with a ‘snob screen’ still intact; a screen which hid the bar staff from the wealthy drinkers who frequented the public house.
The Lamb is now operated by Young’s Breweries, and has a great, lively atmosphere…without the invasion of music.
Ye Olde Mitre
Built in 1946 for the servants of the Bishops of Ely, Ye Olde Mitre is steeped in history. The cherry tree which adorns, and supports, the front dates back to the Tudor period…it has even been said that Queen Elizabeth I danced around the tree with Sir Christopher Hatton. The locale of the pub is close to the location of William Wallace’s execution.
A well concealed little tavern, just off Hatton Garden, the ambience is rather sweet and unassuming. Now run by Fullers, the beers are well kept and are paired with decent real ales and guest brews.