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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

British Pubs: Oldest, Smallest, Biggest, Highest...

Records for pubs is quite a difficult subject to research as there are so many different pubs and determining what is a pub can itself be difficult. Is a beer festival a pub? If so, the largest pub would probably be the Great British Beer Festival. Also, a beer festival is likely to hold the title of longest bar.

Determining the oldest pub is also a very difficult process and one that will probably be never proven.

That aside, here are some pubs that can be classed as 'one of' the oldest, biggest, smallest, etc.

Oldest Pub

The title for oldest pub is a hotly contended title and one that is quite difficult to prove. Guinness World Records lists the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks which is a 11th Century structure built on an 8th Century site.

Many old pubs in Britain have been rebuilt once or twice and the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is no exception. The pub was rebuilt in 1485 but according to Guinness World Records the pub was not moved to another location. The Man and Scythe disputes this and such claims it is the oldest pub dating to 1251. But, that pub was rebuilt in 1636.

Another contender is The Ferry Boat in St Ives, Cambridgeshire claims to date from 560AD but has only been proved as far back as 1100. I could go but instead you can visit this site which has more info on old pubs.

Incidentally, the oldest pub in Wales is the Skirrid Inn located in Abergavenny which can be traced back to 1110. As well as being a pub, it was also used as a courthouse where people were hanged inside the pub. Unlike the other pubs I've mentioned, the Skirrid Inn has stood for nine centuries.

Highest Pub

At 1,732 feet (528 m) above sea level, the Tan Hill Inn is regarded as being the highest pub in England.

Tan Hill is a high point on the Pennine Way in North Yorkshire, England near the borders with County Durham and Cumbria. The pub is located near the village of Keld.

Remotest Pub

Knoydart, the village where The Old Forge pub is located, is also referred to as "Britain's last wilderness" [Google map].

Only accessible by boat, or by a 16-mile (26 km) walk through rough country, its seven miles of tarred road are not connected to the UK road system. There is no vehicle ferry to Knoydart, but passenger services are available. [source]

Largest Pub

The Regal in Cambridge is owed by pub chain JD Wetherspoon and is a converted cinema. Its cavernous interior is large enough to hold 1,600 people making it the largest pub in the UK. [source]

Smallest Pub

Like the title for oldest pub, there is some contention for the title of smallest pub. The Nutshell is a pub in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, is thought to be one of the smallest pubs in Britain and measures just 15ft by 7ft. The pub can only hold around 10-15 people but in 1984 they managed to cram in 102. [Source]

Longest Bar

Zander Bar is a smart London brasserie serving a wide range of dishes from a modern British A La Carte menu in a convivial atmosphere. The pub has a large list of cocktails (90) and an equally large bar (48 metres long).

Smallest Bar

The Dove is a 17th Century riverside pub in London holds the title for having the smallest bar in Britain, a cosy 4 ft. 2ins by 7ft. 10ins.(1.27m x 2.39m). (This title doesn't refer to the physical size of the 'bar' or the entire pub as in the case of The Nutshell.)

Lowest Bar

The Nag's Head in London is a good contender for having the lowest bar in the UK. At just a few feet high you have to bend down to pick up your drink. For the people serving the drinks the floor is lower behind the bar so from that side it is at normal height.

I visited the pub last year and they have a strict no mobile phone policy.

Crookedest Pub

The Glynne Arms (more popularly known as the Crooked House) has suffered badly from mining subsidence and as a result the leans at an angle of 15 degrees.

Doors, floors and windows all sit at odd angles to one another, causing patrons difficulty upon entering the pub and walking to the bar. View the interior here.


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