There is something wonderful about downing a beer at pubs where probably your great grandparents would’ve also tucked into a meal. There’s a colourful history to these pubs which go back centuries and the servers usually share the stories with delight.
On a recent trip to the United Kingdom I visited some ancient pubs and bars that have stood the test of time and change.
Anchor Bankside, London
Built in 1615, this is where writer Samuel Johnson, whose brewer friend owned the joint and diarist Samuel Pepys would come for a drink or two. Located close to Shakespeare’s Globe in Southwark, next to River Thames, this pub has many sections. The traditional English pub food, like Pie and Mash or Fish and Chips they serve, is quite good and some of the recipes go back hundreds of years. Interestingly, a scene from Mission Impossible was shot here.
Where: 34 ark St, Southwark; (www.taylor-walker.co.uk/)
This is the historic pub where the discovery of DNA was announced to the world. Yes, it goes back that far. Nobel Prize-winning scientists Francis Crick and James Watson frequented this place often and announced the path-breaking discovery of the DNA in 1953.
And that’s not the only claim to fame. Look up at the ceiling and you’ll see many signatures and numbers scribbled there. These were signed by men who fought during World War II. The tradition started when a young gentleman used a candle to write his Squadron’s number up there, and eventually, others followed, using anything they could lay hands on, from lipsticks to charcoal.
The pub serves ale that’s called Eagle’s DNA to celebrate the discovery. By the way, its name has undergone a change – when this opened in 1667, it was called ‘Eagle and Child’.
Where : Benet Street; (www.eagle-cambridge.co.uk/)
White Hart Inn, Edinburgh
Born in 1516, White Hart Inn claims to be the city’s oldest pub in continuous use, but only the cellarage remains from that time; the building goes back to 1740. A brass plaque outside this pub proclaims, ‘In the White Hart Inn Robert Burns stayed during his last visit to Edinburgh, 1791.’
It also hosted William Wordsworth in 1803. It’s a lovely bar with a seating for about 50 people but if you’re there when the weather is right, sit outdoors and watch the world go by. Interestingly, this was also voted Edinburgh’s Most Haunted Pub in 2005. Does that send shivers up your spine?
Where: 34 Grassmarket; (www.whitehart-edinburgh.co.uk/)
The Old Green Tree, Bath
A tiny pub done up all in wood has been delighting citizens since three centuries. It has three rooms and one central bar with local ales on six hand pumps. Don’t go without tasting their legendary Green Tree Ale that’s from a local brewery. Centrally located, it’s a cosy place to visit after a hectic day.
Where: 12 Green Street
The Gellions, Inverness
Going back to 1841, this is the oldest pub in the Scottish Highlands capital, Inverness. It has two bars – Monty’s Snug and Bridge Bar – and an enviable location at the entrance of Bridge Street and Church Street, very close to Inverness Castle. Live music each evening draws locals and tourists and what keeps them there are the several ales on the tap and traditional pub food.
Where: 17 Bridge Street; (http://www.gellions.co.uk/)