Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
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. In fact the pub currently holds the official Guinness Book of Records title. However, as the earliest date for which it can be proved to have been licensed is 1756, and even that date is not certain, there is little justification for any entry in the Book. 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 justifiable claims to have been trading as inns in the late medieval period.
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.
As with many old buildings, the ceilings are quite low. An original bread-oven is next to one of the fireplaces. It has a very large beer garden with different seating arrangements, as well as seats out the front.
The building, in its current location, was originally known as "The Round House" 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. It is known by locals as 'The Fighters' or 'The Cocks'. The prefix, "ye olde...", is a late 19th century affectation.
The Cocks was featured in an exterior scene in "The Sins of the Fathers", a 1990 episode of the ITV series Morse. The setting was the beer garden along the River Ver, with the pub's large sign plainly visible in the background.
- Mein, Jonathan. "The Enigmatic History of the Fighting Cocks". www.stalbanshistory.org. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "www.yeoldefightingcocks.com/about.htm". Archived from the original on 2008-03-20.
- Page, William (1896). "The Marian Survey of S. Albans" (PDF). Transactions of St Albans Architectural & Archaeological Society. 1893/94: 21. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- Kitton, F.G. "The Old Inns of St Albans" (PDF). Transactions of St Albans Architectural & Archaeological Society. 1899/1900: 260. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
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