When it comes to beer and history, London can’t be beaten. Their vibrant heritage has set the stage for some of the most iconic pubs in the world. These venues were established in a different era, which gives guests a glimpse into fading facets of English culture. Over the centuries, London’s bars have managed to stay open. From witnessing the dawn of America to the conclusion of WWII, these pubs have withstood the tests of time. They have weathered the storm, making them attractions that can’t be missed for any respectable traveler.
With pubs this iconic, it’s time to give the glitzy bars a break while visiting London. Their oldest pubs possess a degree of charm that can’t be found at newer venues. No matter how much money they invest in lavish décor, their heritage can’t be recreated. Despite being some of the most unique attractions in the city, most visitors miss these bars completely. This is a slap in the face to any client that’s interested in history. For this reason, we compiled a list of the oldest pubs in London. They are in a league of their own, since their venues have survived multiple centuries and generations. Their legacy is still alive, so come explore them while they are still open!
Oldest Pubs in London
Pub #3: The Mayflower, Rotherhithe (1550) – Over the years, this pub has gone by many names but their style hasn’t changed. This nautical themed pub sits on top of the ruins of the original Shippe pub, which was built in 1550. During the last 468 years, this bar has undergone numerous transformations. From the Shippe to the Spread Eagle, it finally settled on the moniker The Mayflower. This last nickname was adopted after a game changing discovery.
Legend has it, the sailors who commandeered the Mayflower planned their trip to America in this bar. It was a journey that changed the world and gave birth to one of the most powerful countries ever created. Immerse yourself in history by having a few drinks at this iconic bar. The décor is dominated by antique rifles, ropes and model ships. This makes visiting this pub an adventure, so don’t miss out on the action!
Pub #2: Ye Olde Mitre, Holborn (1546) – While this bar doesn’t break records with its number of visitors, it wins over patrons with a different approach. Instead of catering to the masses, this pub treats those who treasure history. The original pub was first built by Bishop Goodrich in 1546, and they managed to maintain its style. This bar is separated into different sections that allow groups to enjoy drinks in surprisingly intimate settings.
Clients can choose from the Royal Red, Loungey Bishop’s Room or Ye Closet to enjoy themselves in. The last option is a tiny cubbyhole that barely seats six people. While the accommodations are quaint, the décor is surprisingly wild. Tudor beams, portraits of Henry VIII, antique whisky water jugs and coal fires make this pub memorable. The patrons may have evolved, but its still captivating seeing how this pub maintained its essence!
Pub #1: The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping (1520) – This pub has witnessed the rule of 22 monarchs, and its still open for business. Despite outliving the reign of countless royalty, this bar manages to stay grounded. It has a delightfully dark past, and used to be known as Devil’s Tavern. This was a haven for smugglers, pirates and villains as they planned their next moves. Over the years, everyone got in on the action.
Captain Kidd, Charles Dickens, Richard Burton and Princess Margaret have all enjoyed drinks at this infamous pub. It was also frequented by George Jeffrey’s, who was known as the Hanging Judge. He would routinely come here after ordering countless deaths at the Execution Dock. The patrons may have gotten gentrified, but their décor hasn’t. Real masts are built into the structure and a lifelike noose swings outside. Salute London’s wild past by indulging at this interesting bar!