Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

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Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (2).JPG
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks - the view along the River Ver (2006)
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is located in Hertfordshire
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Location within Hertfordshire
Former names The Round House, Three Pigeons
General information
Address 16 Abbey Mill Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4HE
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Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is a public house in St Albans, Hertfordshire, which is one of several that lay claim to being the oldest in England.[1] The pub is currently listed by the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's oldest pub.[2] However, as the earliest date for which it can be proved to have been licensed is 1756 - and even that date is not certain - its claim to this record is somewhat uncertain.[3] Others such as the Ye Olde Man & Scythe in Bolton, Greater Manchester and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham may have better claims. Even in St Albans, The White Hart and the Fleur de Lys (currently called 'The Snug') have claims to have been trading as inns in the late medieval period.[4]


The main structure is free-standing and has an octagonal appearance, attributable to its original use as a pigeon house. It has been added to over the years but the original timber-framed structure is clearly visible. It was originally located close to St Albans Cathedral (when it was St Albans Abbey) and was moved to the present site sometime after the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539. Its foundations are claimed to be even older, dating from around 793 but again this is dubious. It is thought that there are tunnels running between the cathedral and the pub's beer cellars which were once used by monks.[5]

As with many old buildings, the ceilings are quite low. An original bread-oven is next to one of the fireplaces. It has a large beer garden with different seating arrangements, as well as seats out the front.


Ye Olde Fighting Cocks - the view from the car park (2003)

The building, in its current location, was originally known as "The Round House"[6] but there is no record of it being licensed as a public house under that name. The first known reference to it being an alehouse is in 1756 when it appears to be trading as the "Three Pigeons". Around 1800 its name changed to the "Fighting Cocks", perhaps in reference to the sport of cock fighting which was popular at the time and which may have taken place in the main bar area. The prefix "Ye olde..." is a late Victorian affectation. It is known by locals as 'The Fighters' or 'The Cocks'.[7]

The pub is at the end of Abbey Mill Lane beside the River Ver, just outside the perimeter of Verulamium Park, not far from St Albans Cathedral in the oldest part of the city.

In 2015 PETA wrote to the pub's landlord and its owners, Mitchells & Butlers, requesting that they change the name due to its cockfighting association. The request was declined.[2]

In popular culture

The Cocks was featured in an exterior scene in "The Sins of the Fathers", a 1990 episode of the ITV series Inspector Morse. The setting was the beer garden along the River Ver, with the pub's large sign plainly visible in the background.


  1. "Oldest Inn in Britain". Fat Badger's Guide to Quality Inns in Britain.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Animal activists PETA demand Britain's oldest pub change its name". Daily Mail. 25 May 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Mein, Jonathan. "The Enigmatic History of the Fighting Cocks". Retrieved 11 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kitton, FG. "The Old Inns of St Albans". Transactions of St Albans Architectural & Archaeological Society: 240 & 252. Retrieved 22 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "". Archived from the original on 20 March 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Page, William (1896). "The Marian Survey of S. Albans" (PDF). Transactions of St Albans Architectural & Archaeological Society. 1893/94: 21. Retrieved 11 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kitton, F.G. "The Old Inns of St Albans" (PDF). Transactions of St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. 1899/1900: 260. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links