Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of a number pubs in London that can truly justify the “Ye Olde” as there’s been a pub at this location since 1538.
This historic tavern was was built in 1667 after the “Great Fire of London” in 1666 destroyed the original pub The Horn which was built in 1538. While there are a few older pubs that survived the fire, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese continues to remain a London favourite because of its seventeenth century history and its gloomy charm.
Approach through an alleyway, past the list of the 15 monarchs this old pub has survived and into the labyrinth of rooms scattered with sawdust, vaulted cellars and coal fireplaces. The dark wooden interior, lack of natural light, narrow corridors and staircases lead to numerous bars and dining rooms.
There are two rooms on the ground floor when you first walk in. To the right is a small dark panelled bar with a fireplace. To the left is the Chop Room reserved for diners with its small wooden booths and a portrait of one of the most famous patrons, Dr. Samuel Johnson one of the greatest literary figures of the eighteenth century, most famously compiling A Dictionary of the English Language. You’ll also find his chair set upon a shelf and a copy of Johnson’s dictionary.
The narrow stairway leads up to a couple of atmospheric dining rooms that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. But beware of the narrow and awkward steps and the very low doorways, remember this place is authentic! If you head down to the cellar bars you’ll discover the vaults, a series of tiny stone rooms. These vaults were part of the original guest house’s chapel. The steps continue into the cellar proper which dates to a 13th century Carmelite Monastery which once occupied this site and are now another bar and dining area.
As with such a historic pub, it’s seen its share of famous clientele. Prime Ministers, Royalty, James Boswell, Voltaire, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens drank here. But maybe the most celebrated was the resident Polly the Parrot who lived here for 40 years ( 1884-1926) until her death which was reported all over the world and now sits stuffed in the tap room.
Ye Old Cheshire Cheese 145 Fleet St, London EC4A 2BU, United Kingdom