Britain’s oldest public house (pub), Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, formerly titled as The Fighting Cocks Public House, has temporarily closed its doors. News spread with the owners Mitchells & Butlers stating that new management is being sought. However, here is the question I want answered: Is it haunted?
According to Guinness World Records, the pub was listed as the oldest public house in Great Britain up until 2000, when the record was classified inactive as it was impossible to verify. There are several pubs across the country that claim to be the oldest. Therefore, an asterisks may need to clarify that Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is one of a handful of old—incredibly old—pubs in Britain.
The pub’s website boasts that the alehouse was operating since 793 AD, although there aren’t any records to support this claim. The current building is octagonal in shape and dates to the 11th century. It was an old pigeon house, hence the name (see below). However, there have been several names over the centuries.
It was originally called The Round House. In 1756, the name changed to The Three Pigeons, with records verify with it operating as a public house. During the 1800, the name changed to The Fighting Cocks, as cock fighting was held on the premises.
St. Albans Abbey, now known as St. Albans Cathedral, was located nearby. Rumors of secret tunnels where monks visited the pub for liquid refreshment are not supported; however, they make for great stories of possible hauntings.
There isn’t much online discussing hauntings here. Maybe there is a presumption that it would; end of discussion. But I want to hear the stories and view the evidence.
Paul Adams’ book Haunted St Albans broaches the issue. He writes that men dressed as monks have been seen at the pub. He questioned the encounters since they are fairly recent beginning in 2001, when there should be centuries of stories for a location that old. Bar staff told of a procession of monks coming from the cellar to take seats at a table. The men were only visible from the knees up and disappeared soon thereafter. There are more stories of objects moving around when no one is watching. It would be incredible if the owners permitted a few paranormal investigations prior to the new management taking over. Some ground penetrating radar would not be remiss. I would love to see the tunnels.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks may or may not be haunted. Hopefully with the owners reaffirming that the pub will continue, there may be opportunities for investigations, which are quite profitable.
The sad part of this tale is that so many pubs in Great Britain are closing. Financial issues are the main reason for the closures. The pandemic kneecapped an already tight market. People are opting to patron bars and restaurants or drink at home, rather than go to a pub. That puzzles me. One of the things inherently British are the pub quiz nights and hearty food, with a side of haunting footsteps.
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