After a 'Staggering 13 Centuries,' This Pub Is Closing

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, which claims to be UK's oldest pub, could still see new life with new owners
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2022 12:50 PM CST

Thousands of pubs, clubs, and restaurants across England have been forced to shutter for good due to the pandemic, but the latest UK watering hole to announce it's closing its doors is an especially devastating blow. After what one YouTube channel calls a "staggering 13 centuries of pulling pints," Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, said to be one of the country's oldest pubs, is being shut down by its current landlord, reports NPR. In a Thursday statement on Facebook, Christo Tofalli wrote he had no choice in the matter after a "sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions" that started even before COVID emerged. The pandemic made things much worse, however, and Tofalli, who bought the St. Albans pub in 2012, soon became "unable to meet our financial obligations."

"It goes without saying I am heartbroken: this pub has been so much more than just a business to me, and I feel honored to have played even a small part in its history," he lamented. And quite a history it was: The pub's website claims its origins stretch back to the 8th century, with the main structure constructed in the 11th century, when it was first used as a pigeon house. The current name of the pub, which was moved to the site it's now at in 1539, derives from the cockfighting that took place there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It says it's Britain's oldest pub, and a Guinness World Records rep agrees it did indeed used to lay claim to that title, but the organization has since put that honor to bed, as other pubs started claiming they were the oldest in Britain and it became impossible to verify which one really was.

All may not be lost, however, for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. Mitchells & Butlers, the brewery that owns the property, tells CNN it's "currently exploring all opportunities for the site's future," and that if it can put new owners in place, there's a chance the pub will be able to reopen. Meanwhile, Tofalli tells the BBC that since the closure was announced, he's been bombarded with supportive messages, not only from locals, but from around the globe. "I've never seen anything like it," he marvels. "To be reading about the impact we've had on people is mind-boggling and extremely humbling." (More pubs stories.)

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