Britain’s Oldest Pub May Be Going Out of Business After 1,229 Years

Pour one out for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, which supposedly started serving drinks in the 8th century

Exterior of Ye Old Fighting Cocks, Britain's oldest pub, which might close down for good
It was last call recently at Ye Old Fighting Cocks.
Legis at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans claims to be Britain’s oldest pub, but the company that runs the venue (established in 793) has been forced into administration, which means after 13 centuries they’re essentially bankrupt.

As originally reported by the Mirror, a combination of tax hikes, rising costs and the pandemic has apparently forced the company Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (YOFC) Ltd to close the bar. The pub’s owners are now apparently in talks to figure out next moves, including whether the creatively-named venue will reopen.

(About that name: It’s not the original name, but apparently got its moniker last century after it hosted cock fighting in the main bar.)

In a statement, landlord Christo Tofalli noted “the past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future … I am currently working with the brewery, Mitchell and Butler, to lessen the impact of the closure of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks as we go into administration.”

A fundraiser (“Save Ye Olde Fighting Cocks!”) was set up on GoFundMe to help the bar, but it is currently not accepting new donations. As one donor noted, “This yank has never visited Ye Olde Fighting Cocks but did spend time in St. Albans years ago and has fond memories of the town and its people. British pub culture is the glue that binds communities across the UK together. Please don’t let it die.”

An archived description of the pub notes the following: “Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is noted in the 1997 Guinness Book of Records as an 11th Century structure on an 8th Century site, making it the oldest pub in Britain … Originally the pub was called The Roundhouse, but the name was changed to the Fisherman after the monks from the Abbey used to store their fishing tackle there. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries cock fighting took place in the main bar, hence the name ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’. St.Albans Cathedral and grounds are across the road from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and there are tunnels stretching from the beer cellars to the Cathedral, apparently used by the Monks. The pub still has the original fireplace with a bread oven to the side.”


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