Tour Locations | Historical Pubs of London: A Tipply Trundle Through Liquid History
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub
Once you've found the hanging lantern for Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese let's stop here, spin round and enjoy the magnificent view. It's a view unchanged for hundreds of years, and you might notice the modern skyscraper just to the left of St.Paul's cathedral. The new "Cheesegrater" tower has been forced to lean out of the way like an embarrassed relative at a family photograph, preserving the unimpeded view of the cathedral dome on this historic sight line starting from right outside the pub. It highlights the importance of the cathedral, but more importantly the gravitas of the pub that we are about to enter.
Entering this pub always offers the best of times and the worst of times for Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese stars in "A Tale of Two Cities" as the first place Charles Darnay visits to recruit his strength with a simple supper and a few fine wines after escaping trial for high treason at the Old Bailey.
So Dickens was a regular, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Walt Disney also all darkening this door over the years. The original pub dates back to the mid 1500's but what we see today was rebuilt with immediate effect after the Great Fire in 1667.
Let’s head through the tunnel to the front door, enjoy the list of monarchs who've reigned over the pub since it first opened its doors and prepare to enter this time capsule of tipples.
Now, I’m afraid I won't be joining you inside the pub as there is a ban on technology including phones and laptops. This allows the traditional mix of beer and conversation to set the tone. Things to look out for are the "Gentlemen Only Bar" just inside on the right, where you’ll find Polly the Parrot still keeping watch behind the bar since passing away in 1926.
The pub has seven storeys of bawdy and literary history to explore, so watch your head as you descend down into the basement bar. It's like drinking under Communism at The Cheese with no brands or drink varieties other than the incumbent brewer Samuel Smith from Tadcaster. It's his way or the high way in here, so perhaps opt for the humble Old Brewery Bitter served from traditional oak casks or the coffee-rich stout for a fuller flavoured pint. Mmm. I'm beginning to lick my lips just thinking about it. All this talking has left me rather parched.
I think it’s time for you to grab a drink and start the elbow-bending activity! You can leave the app running if you're popping in for a quick peek. Or if you plan on spending some time here, you can close off the tour by pressing “End Tour” in the top right of the screen. When you're done, come back outside and start it again by choosing “Resume”. Once you’ve exited, I'll meet you further along this alley in the courtyard where we'll be heading left into Gough Square. Now push open that door and enjoy your drink in this iconic alehouse!