While we might be known for telling you about new openings here at Secret London, it would be remiss of us to ignore the possible closure of the ‘oldest pub’ in the country, which was threatened earlier this year. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans dates back to the year 793, making it just the 1229 years old. The pub may have welcomed a Viking or two in its walls, and it’s survived plagues, civil and world wars, and countless new builds around it – it’s even thought to have housed Oliver Crowell for an overnight stay.
But, after struggling for two years during the pandemic, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks closed its doors in February 2022 after their owner’s firm (Mitchells and Butlers) went into administration. Amidst the tears, it was mentioned that the pub was on the lookout for new licensees, and there certainly wasn’t any plan for the closure to remain permanent. Well happily, it’s now emerged that a pair of former employees have stepped in to run the pub, and keep this little slice of history alive.
Per the BBC, former manager Martin Robinson and head chef Ian Baulsh – along with Sam Walker, the only one of the trio not to be a former employee – are now in charge. They’ve reportedly got a vision for the pub’s future (albeit they’ve probably not sketched out plans for the next 1229 years), one which will allow regulars and visitors alike to kick back with a pint, as countless others have done before them.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is named as the oldest pub in Britain by the Guinness Book Of Records, although this claim has been disputed. As the story goes, the pub’s foundations were once part of the palace of Offa (best-know for Offa’s Dyke), king of the Mercians, and reportedly built in 793. Historical records trace the building back to the 11th century, and the public house has had its current name since at least 1872. And now, it’ll keep that name a while longer!