The Old Bell Tavern
This tavern has the distinction of being built by Sir Christopher Wren. Although it started life as a house for stone masons rebuilding the destroyed St. Bride’s Church after the Great Fire of London, the building has been a pub for more than 300 years. Closely situated near Fleet Street, the Old Bell Tavern is run by the Nicholsons Chain, which owns and runs a huge collection of historic pubs; this has ensured that the Old Bell serves a huge range of traditional ales behind its stained-glass front. Although it can be busy, the inside of the building has lost none of its charm since 1670.
Monday to Friday 11AM-11PM, Saturday 12PM-8PM and Sunday 12PM to 5PM.
The George Inn
The George Inn’s striking appearance marks it out from the crowd as London’s last remaining galleried inn, once visited by Charles Dickens when it was a coffee house. Built in 1677, this Southwark building was constructed on the site of the older George Inn, which was destroyed by fire the year before. Although galleried inns were once common, many were destroyed during the Second World War and this National Trust-owned inn is the only one remaining. With a striking façade, the inside of the pub is just as traditional and is panelled in oak. Whether having a cup of tea outside or a sit-down meal, the George Inn suits all occasions.
Monday to Saturday 11AM-11PM, Sunday 12PM-10.30PM.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’s dark exterior echoes its Dickensian interior. Built in 1667, it has survived the reigns of 15 monarchs, although the original building dates to 1538 and the cellar is thought to belong to a thirteenth-century monastery. Hidden just off Fleet Street, the food is cheap and the labyrinthine interior of stairs and rooms gives the building an eccentric feeling that reflects its age. A drinking-place for a large number of famous people, including Alfred Lord Tennyson and Mark Twain — whose plaques decorate the walls – this pub will attract everybody from tourists to locals.
Monday to Friday 11AM-11PM, Saturday 12PM-11PM and Sunday 12PM-4PM.
Ye Old Cock Tavern
Although the building has moved around several times during its history, the Old Cock Tavern originally dates all the way back to 1549. Frequented by the diarist Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnson and later Charles Dickens, the pub was rebuilt during the 1880s when a branch of the Bank of England was built where it originally stood. Now on the south side of Fleet Street, it currently boasts the narrowest frontage of all the London pubs. The pub can be little busy at times, but the tavern’s wide selection of ales — a must-have for any traditional inn — is good and makes this place a worthy stop-off when exploring London.
Monday to Tuesday 11AM-11PM, Wednesday to Friday 11AM-12AM, and Saturday to Sunday 12PM-10PM.
Ye Olde Mitre
Ye Olde Mitre has perhaps the richest and strangest history of all of its counterparts. Built in 1546, it was originally intended to accommodate the servants of the Bishop of Ely, but its connection to historical events goes further than that: Henry VIII was married next door in St. Etheldras, and his daughter, Elizabeth I, is said to have danced around the cherry tree at the front of the pub with Sir Christopher Hatton. The tree is still there, and the pub itself is tucked away down a hidden passage off Ely Place. The inside of the pub is firmly traditional and even the furniture itself dates back a hundred years or more: expect a wide selection of drinks and some lovely eccentric architecture.
Monday to Friday 11AM-11PM, closed Saturday to Sunday.
The Seven Stars
Situated in Carey Street in Aldwych, near the Royal Courts of Justice, the low-built Seven Stars was constructed in 1602 and actually survived the Great Fire of London and is still in business today. Although heaving at evenings and lunchtimes, the pub is popular with both tourists and people who work at the law courts. Boasting beer from the local Dark Star brewery in Sussex, one of its main attractions is the local cat, Ray Brown, whose distinctive white ‘ruff’ makes him easy to spot. The pub’s eccentric décor and uneven floors merely add to its charm.
Monday to Friday 11AM-11PM, Saturday 12PM -11PM and Sunday 12PM-10PM.
By Vicky Jessop