A favourite with tourists due to its age, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a Grade 11 listed public house (pub) located at 145 Fleet Street. The first pub on this site was the Horn Tavern, which was built in 1538. It was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The present pub is one of a number rebuilt after the fire and it was renamed the Cheshire Cheese in 1667.
There’s no natural light inside and each room has a different style. The smallest, near the entrance, is Victorian in character. Above the doorway a sign reads “Gentlemen only served in this bar” but this rule no longer applies. A converted cellar decorated with beer barrels offers a rustic feel, while the higher floors are more elegantly furnished.
Some of the interior wood panelling is nineteenth century although some may even be original or at least very old. Prior to the building of the Horn Tavern there was an inn owned by the Carmelite Monastery dating back to the 13th century and the vaulted cellars are thought to belong to the monastery.
The entrance to this pub is situated in a narrow alleyway and is very unassuming, yet once inside visitors will realise that the pub occupies a lot of floor space and has numerous bars and gloomy rooms. In winter, open fireplaces are used to keep the interior warm.
In the bar room are posted plaques showing famous people who were regulars. Inside are striking original portraits, a roaring coal fire and woodchips scattered around the floor — as there would have been years ago – to soak up the spilled beer, dirt and bile walked in from the streets outside.
The literary figures said to have been ‘regulars’ include Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Johnson and Charles Dickens although there is no recorded evidence that Dr Johnson ever visited the pub, only that he lived close by at 17 Gough Square.
While there are several older London pubs which have survived because they were beyond the reach of the fire or like The Tipperary on the opposite side of Fleet Street because they were made of stone, this pub continues to attract interest due its gloomy charm.
For further details go to www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/605551-ye-olde-cheshire-cheese
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