There is nothing better than an old-fashioned boozer to enjoy a nice ale. Yorkshire is full of some of the oldest inns in the UK – and that list just so happens to include the oldest pub in the UK. Situated just less than 10 miles from Leeds city centre, The Bingley Arms has a lot of years under its belt when it comes to getting us merry – officially holding the title of the first pub in the UK.
The 1,000-year-old pub is set in the pretty village of Bardsey and has a ton of history in its arsenal, dating all the way back to Viking times.
The original English pub (as it describes itself) is officially the first pub in the UK, dating back to sometime between AD 905 and AD 953. The place was known for serving as a safe house for Catholic priests and those under threat by Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, under the name ‘The Priests Inn’.
The pub still has a lot of its original features (which are great to spot for budding Historians) and was originally run by a fellow called Samson Ellis, who brewed on-site and gave refuge to travelling monks and people passing through in need of a meal and a place to rest their horses. The pub was a well-known stopping point for travellers between Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds and St. Mary’s Abbey in York.
The inn still houses an inglenook fireplace and a 17th-century original Dutch oven, which was used for making bread, and is one of few still remaining in its original spot. Not only that, there are still priest holes remaining in the chimney – which were used to hide priests during a time when Catholics were persecuted under Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.
Beer garden fans will also be pleased to hear that The Bingley Arm’s has a fantastic one – but more interestingly, it has a Yew Tree in the back that predates the pub itself. Yew Trees carry a lot of mythology, with a popular story suggesting they were used to purify the graves of plague victims.
Bringing it back to the present day, The Bingley Arm’s now operates as a pub and restaurant, priding itself on its locally sourced food and selection of fine wines sourced from around the world. The menu is varied with something for everyone, including traditional British dishes such as Steak & Ale pie, fish & chips, and bangers & mash. If you’re looking for a recommendation, however, for us, it’s all about the Sunday roast.
The pub didn’t receive its current name until 1780, when the Inn was acquired by Lord Bingley.
Ghosts are said to still roam the premises, with a number of stories still circulating to this day. Visitors have claimed that they’ve seen objects moving around, candles lighting themselves up and pans of water boiling on hobs that aren’t on – as well as sightings of multiple ghosts being reported. The most popular stories are about ‘The Cavalier’, known as the practical joker of the ghosts, a young girl who allegedly causes a lot of strange activity on the premises, as well as a dog who has been spotted walking around the pub by guests. Creepy!
The Bingley Arms is recorded as the first pub in the UK (and the oldest pub in general) by the Guinness book of world records, and continues its history today serving locals and visitors food and drink at Church Lane, Bardsey, Leeds, LS17 9DR