History flows throughout the Square Mile, but nowhere is it more prominent than in the City’s much-loved public houses.
From pokey beamed pubs to grand former banks, read on for our list of some of the City of London’s top historical pubs. It must bygone time for a drink…
Jamaica Wine House
Jamaica Wine House is a must if you’re looking for an authentic old pub in the hub of the financial district. Built on the site of London’s first coffee house, the pub has problematic historical links with the sugar trade and slave plantations in the West Indies. The red sandstone building dates back to 1869 and you can see many of the original features are still there, including the 19th-century cooker once used to roast coffee beans. Today, the pub sees floods of City dwellers enjoying after-work drinks spilling out into the courtyard. Those in the know will head downstairs to the secret Todd’s Wine Bar.
St. Michael’s Alley EC3V 9DS
Built in the early 19th century, the Grade II-listed pub is located a short stroll from Liverpool Street and Moorgate Tube stations. Running along the Roman Wall near the Barbican Centre, The Globe has a classical ornate rococo exterior and is a favourite with residents of the City.
The Victorian pub, situated next door to the birthplace of the famous poet John Keats, serves real ales and traditional pub grub. A good place for session drinking, The Globe also has great views of the Armorers’ Hall across the road.
83 Moorgate EC2M 6SA
Ye Olde Mitre
A tricky pub to find, Ye Olde Mitre is located down a narrow passageway just off Hatton Garden. Dating back to 1546, the traditional pub is small yet mighty, and should be top of your list if you’re after a typical old pub in the City. Picture perfect, the pub was originally licensed to the Bishop of Ely in Cambridgeshire and used to be guarded by his officials at all times. It is also said that Queen Elizabeth I once danced around a cherry tree in its back garden. Known for its homemade bar snacks, locals encourage you to order a toastie or a sausage roll when sipping on your pint.
1 Ely Court EC1N 6SJ
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
First built in the 1530s, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was burnt down in The Great Fire of London in 1666. Rebuilt a year later in 1667, the uneven, higgledy-piggledy, 17th-century pub has played host to almost every literary figure in London at one point or another, including Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain. Dark and pokey, the watering hole is a little gloomy, but has a lot of charm and is an ideal spot for a cosy pint by the fire on a winter’s day. Just off Fleet Street, the pub also houses vaulted cellars that are thought to belong to a 13th-century Carmelite monastery which once occupied the site. Blink and you’ll miss it, the pub looks very small from the outside, but has a warren of rooms to relax in.
145 Fleet Street EC4A 2BU
The Old Bank of England
Only converted into a pub in 1994, The Old Bank of England public house has one of the most opulent interiors in the City. With grande furnishings and incredibly tall ceilings, the pub was converted from the Law Courts branch of the Bank of England, which was constructed in 1886 by Sir Arthur Blomfield in a grand Italianate style. Another pub on Fleet Street, the Grade II-listed ornate pub is still home to the former bank’s vaults, which once contained gold bullion and even the Crown Jewels at one time too.
194 Fleet Street EC4A 2LT
Hoop & Grapes
One of the only timber buildings to survive The Great Fire of London in 1666, Hoop & Grapes heralds back all the way to 1593. Due to age, the old pub is now a little twisted, bent and haggard. The front of the building noticeably leans forward and almost collapsed had it not been for extensive restoration. Originally named Hops and Grapes to show it sold both beer and wine, today the pub also offers a wide list of cocktails to keep up with modern tastes and trends.
47 Aldgate High Street EC3N 1AL
Ye Olde Watling
Dating back to 1668, Ye Olde Watling was built by Sir Christopher Wren using timber from old ships. Once built, the upstairs of the pub was used as Wren’s headquarters, and a place to house the workers, during the building of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is just a stone’s throw away. The plans for the cathedral were actually drawn up in the tavern. Steeped in history, the pub is also known for its great food, ales and range of gins. Found on Watling Street – one of Britain’s most famous Roman Roads – Ye Olde Watling is black-timbered, low-lit pub you won’t be able to pass by.
29 Watling Street EC4M 9BR
The Prospect of Whitby
Built in 1520, The Prospect of Whitby is said to be the oldest riverside pub in London, offering brilliant views of the capital and the River Thames. Once known as ‘The Devil’s Tavern’, the pub used to see many sailors, pirates, smugglers and felons from all over the world visit. What’s more, a noose and gallows still hang off the Inn’s balcony, harking back to a more gruesome time in London’s history where judges chose to carry out executions here. Former regulars of the pub have included the diarist Samuel Pepys, artists Turner and Whistler and the explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby.
57 Wapping Wall E1W 3SH
The Lamb Tavern
Trading since 1780, The Lamb Tavern has gone under many owners. Found in the middle of the historical, cobbled Leadenhall Market, the pub has been part of the City’s culture for hundreds of years, and has always been popular with City slickers after a long day in the office. Taking over three floors, the pub is always busy and you’ll often see drinks spilling out into the market. Below The Lamb Tavern, you’ll find Old Tom’s Bar, which is even older. Today, the cellar bar is certainly a hidden gem.
10-12 Leadenhall Market EC3V 1LR