Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Wine Office Court, London, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7353 6170 / (0)871 951 1000
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese London Reviews
An authentic taste of London´s past Jul 20, 2011
The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is thought to be the oldest pub in London. It was rebuild after the great city fire in 1666, but has probably occupied the location since 1538. The entrance to the pub is situated in a narrow alleyway and is very unassuming. The stairs leading into ”the old cheese” is so warn down, so be careful when entering. Also mind your head. The door frame and the ceiling are very low. Once inside it consists of several bars and dining rooms, which are reached by a labyrinth of passages and staircases and have a gloomy charm. Don´t forget to mind your head.
In one of the bars they have posted plaques showing famous people who were regulars. Samuel Johnson´s chair is still there and you are allowed to try it. The vaulted cellars are thought to belong to a 13th century Carmelite Monastery which once occupied the site.
Much of the old London which rose from the ashes 300 years ago, was wiped out during WWII, when Hitler´s bombs rained over London, but the “old cheese” made it, and beer is still runnnig from the taps like it did in Shakespeare's time, with sawdust on the floor and spittoons in the corners.
What joy to tip a glass in the same spot as King Edward VII, Samuel Johnson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill. Once you have soaked up the atmosphere upstairs, make your way down to the vaulted cellars, which were part of the original building on this site, a monastery. It provides a whole different kind of atmosphere. Make sure you watch your head!
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese serve pub food as well as beer, traditional ales, wine and spirits. There is also a restaurant on the first floor. This was closed when we were there, so I can´t say anything about the food, but they serve good beer.
In winter they light the open fireplace, which is used to keep the interior warm.
I can recommend a visit to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, if not for the food and drinks, then go for the atmosphere and history.
Opening hours are:
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 – 23:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00
Kitchen is open:
Monday – Friday: 12:00 – 21:30
Saturday: 12:00 – 14:30 and 18:00 – 21:30
Sunday: 12:00 – 15:00
A little bit about the pubs curious history:
The name Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has nothing to do with neither Cheshire nor cheese. No, it was the pudding that made the old “Cheshire Cheese” famous. It was even held pudding feasts there every autumn. It would probably have been called pudding festival these days. In England the pudding has contained various ingredients. The one they served in Cheshire Cheese was made of heart, kidneys, skylarks and other songbirds, oysters, mushrooms and all sorts of herbs, and wine in the sauce and it was served with a golden crust.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is also famous for two extraordinary personalities, Samuel Johnson and Polly the parrot. It was Dr. Johnson who made Fleet Street to the street of ink and words. He himself was the first journalist there. In his time, in the middle of the 18th century, was when the first political and literary newspapers were born. His main work was the first great dictionary of the English language.
Polly was more modestly equipped on the intellectual level, but she was a keen observer of what was happening around her. She resided in the bar in "Cheshire cheese" for over 40 years. She hang out by the taps and enjoyed the extra dropps that fell from them. It is said that she, like everyone else, became happier and happier the closer it got to closing time.
How did Polly get to “the Old Cheese”? It is said that once upon a time a ship captain stopped by Cheshire Cheese and he brought a parcel to the host. The host wasn´t there when it was delivered, so it was just put on a self. After closing time, when it was quiet in the bar, they could hear whimper from the parcel. They opened the box and there was Polly – miserable, more dead than alive. She recovered after a few shots of whisky, or was it cognac. It does not matter when it is about saving a life, human or parrots.
The news of Polly´s death on the 30th of October 1926 was broadcasted by the BBC. Obituary notices appeared in over 200 newspapers all over the world. The one in the "Times" was as big as that of a statesman. The regulars in "Cheshire Cheese" meant that it must have been cirrhosis. Noone ever found out how old she was, for the simple reason that no one knew how old she was when she came to Fleet Street. It is said that they may be hundred years or more. Maybe Polly was. She was certainly wise enough to be so. After her death, Polly was suffed and is now sitting in a glass cabinet in the bar just inside the main entrance.
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One of the oldest pubs in london Apr 29, 2011
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has stood in the same spot for centuries as London grew around it. The hotch potch way in which the city developed is almost mimicked by the venue. There are bars spread across three different levels, some big and some small. There is a spooky feel to the quiet, odd little rooms that don’t seem to see much use. The decor within these strange ancient walls keeps the history - old wooden furniture provides plenty of seating, exposed brick and oak floors are covered in sawdust and the walls show a timeline of the pub with pictures and photos everywhere.
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