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London’s oldest pubs – our favourite three

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The Prospect of Whitby – 1520

This mysterious and intriguing little London pub used to be known by the locals as The Devil’s Tavern, due to its solid customer base of smugglers, villains, pirates and ragamuffins.  A hub of trade for the black market for many centuries, this building has an exclusive and secretive feel to it – tucked away down a side street, hidden from the prying eyes of the authorities.  Nowadays, however, it is frequented by a friendly, laid-back crowd, and run by an utterly charming family – and has come a long way indeed from its shady underground roots!

22 monarchs have ruled and died in the time that this pub has been in business, and its famous visitors include pirate Captain Kidd, Charles Dickens and, bizarrely, Princess Margaret…among many, many others!


Genuine wooden ship masts from boats of the past are integral to the structure of the building and give a real feeling of history, Union Jack Flags both ancient and new are pinned to the ceiling, and there are old barrels and ships wheels carefully dotted around the pewter bar.

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The Prospect does a particularly good Christmas dinner (pictured), as well as a varied range of gluten-free dishes.  You can even buy gift cards here to treat loved ones to an evening out on you! Overall, this is a fascinating place to have a drink – you’ll be comfortable, secluded, and you may even learn a little something from the various plaques and artefacts that so beautifully decorate this unforgettable London pub.

57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, E1


Ye Olde Mitre, Holborn – 1546

There has been a pub on this plot of land since Bishop Goodrich constructed one in 1546.  Sitting comfortably in between two narrow London lanes, this is a very traditional establishment that takes real pride in its history and story.  Stunning Tudor beams, a roaring fire, portraits of royalty and hanging antique whiskey jugs are the main features of the décor, and you won’t find any glaring electronics or technology.


The ideal place to go for an intimate drink with friends, family or even a date, the little cubbyholes all around The Mitre provide the perfect spot for some 1-on-1 time – and the food here really is good.  Bar snacks include home made pork pies and tasty vegetable skewers, while main courses consist of traditional English pub grub with a few creative veggie options thrown in for good measure.  Certainly not the London pub for a raucous night out, but rather a more tranquil venue, we can thoroughly recommend this pub for a family Sunday lunch or gentle tipple after work.  As you can see, it’s won rather a lot of awards…

30 Ely Court, Holborn, EC1


Spaniards Inn – 1585

Boasting a fantastic location on the edge of Hampstead Heath and down a winding tree-lined lane, The Spaniards Inn was built as a safe house for the men who used to guard the boundary between Highgate and Hampstead.  A rather more military, stylised and formal venue, this wonderfully isolated London pub was immortalised in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (who was really something of a pub-lover, it seems).


The world-famous villain Dick Turpin was born unto a lady of the night who worked in the building, and it’s rumoured that Turpin was taught his trickster ways in this very pub – a likely story considering the corruption and crime that was rife among the authorities at the time of his birth.  Nowadays, you can expect nothing but refinery and sophistication – with the original low ceilings adding atmosphere (don’t bother drinking here if you’re over 5”11…you’ll only come home with a blue forehead and a headache), and the antique wooden furniture completing the historic feel of the space.


Ornate glass cabinets show off hundreds of years worth of paraphernalia relating to a vast range of industries – and you certainly won’t be twiddling your thumbs while waiting for your food to arrive.  There’s a lot to see here, and there’s also a fabulously floral outdoor area that boasts heaters and tons of seating – making the Spaniards Inn a really inviting, interesting and comfortable environment for a quiet, relaxed drink.

Spaniards Road, Hampstead, NW3


If you’re interested in hosting your next event at these or any other London pub, you can call on Function Fixers for free, impartial advice on how to choose the right venue for your occasion.  Contact us here for more details, or you can Like our Facebook page to keep up to date with offers, bargains and last-minute deals across the capital!

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