No-one can agree on who owns the title, and what the criteria are - longest continuous operation? Oldest building? Earliest license? But here are some of the potential claimants.
11. The Clachan Inn - 1734
Officially, the license claims 1734 as the first year of operation, but local legend suggests it’s much older - including that Rob Roy’s sister was once the landlady. It also serves Fraoch, an ale brewed from heather based on a 4000-year old recipe
10. Feathers Hotel - 1619
This Ludlow location appears to be the oldest continuous license, since 1619, but there were undeniably older running pubs - the first licenses were issued in 965
9. Man & Scythe - 1251
A pub that’s been rebuilt fairly recently in 1636, the first appearance of a pub on the site appears to be 1251, at the same time as the charter setting up the market in a nearby area - though the cellar is much older. Decorated by an axe used in the 1651 execution of the Earl of Derby.
8. Adam & Eve - 1241
As with many old pubs, this was built at the same time as the nearby cathedral. Hungry stonemasons needed drinks and lodging, and this pub sprung up to serve that need in the 13th century. The remains of a medieval monk were found in the cellar a few decades ago.
7. Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem - 1189
This pub is built into the foundations of Nottingham castle, and was named since it was last stopping off point for soldiers heading in Crusades. Because war needs alcohol.
6. The Skirrid Mountain Inn - 1110
This Abergavenny pub claims to be over 900 years old, and used to be a courthouse, as well as being the meeting point for Owain Glyndwr’s ill-fated revolts against English rule. Legal chronicles date the pub, on its original site, to 1110.
5. Royal Standard of England - 1086 (sort of)
It was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a freehouse, and has a slightly complicated history. Before that date, it was allegedly used as long ago as Saxon times. However, it was as a meeting point and alehouse, but was essentially still a private dwelling, which means concluding an exact date is tricky.
4. The Bingley Arms/The Priest’s Inn - 905 (maybe)
Originally called The Priest’s Inn, there are records mentioning the pub from 905. Though this was in the context of its duel function as a court, since alcohol should always be included in legal proceedings. It claims this makes it the Oldest Pub in Britain, though official numbers only credit it with 953, and it was rebuilt in 1539.
3. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks - 795
This St. Albans pub is recognised by Guinness as the oldest pub, but has a little controversy attached. Documents suggest the pub began in 795. However, it may only have arrived on its current site, an old pigeon coop, in 1485, with earlier incarnation standing on other sites. As a result, some observers claim the real date should be later, though Guinness have stood firm.
2. The Eagle And Child - 514 (probably not)
514 is the very earliest evidence of the attached hotel, but the pub has been closed at times and the name is definitely only from the 14th century, and overall, 947 seems to be the provable number. It does appear to have once hosted bear fights, which, on balance, is good to have been replaced by quiz machines and Sky Sports.
1. The Old Ferryboat Inn - 460 (potentially)
Alcohol was definitely served on the site from 560, and archaeological records date the foundations back at least a further hundred years. But beyond that, it’s difficult to get conclusive proof of its actual age. Rebuilds, a lack of evidence, and apparent extended breaks in trading mean no official recognition.