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Published November 16th 2014
The Oldest Pub In Oxford
Oxford is renowned for its university and colleges that have taught some of the greats of history including 26 British Prime Ministers, at least 30 international leaders, 50 Nobel Prize winners, and 120 Olympic medal winners. The university dates back to 1096, making it one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. Not far off this mark is the oldest pub that also sits in Oxford, England and that is none other than The Bear Inn.
Dating back to its origin in 1242, this circa-17th century incarnation stands on the corner of Alfred Street and Blue Boar Street, opposite Bear Lane in the centre of Oxford, just north of Christ Church. This vintage pub is renowned for its collection of quirky ties that have travelled far and wide on the necks of regiments from across the globe. Today however, this hidden gem, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the High Street, is a place for students, tourists and locals alike to enjoy a great pint of real ale and good, home-cooked food in these historic premises.
I had the opportunity to visit this landmark not so long ago, and upon my arrival I was pleasantly surprised how cosy and adorable the venue was. Being only 5 ft 1, I had no problem entering the premises, which is catered for the short, I almost well and truly felt like a giant and was able to touch the historic pubs rustic wooden roof.
Decked out along all the walls are framed ties, this display has become ingrained in the pubs long standing history. The story basically tells the tale that those who entered the pub, usually members of famed colleges, schools, regiments, sports clubs and long lost establishments such as the Palestine Police, were given to The Bear Inn so the wearer could receive a free pint. Since those humble beginnings (some say the 1950's) the ties are still being donated, however a drink on the house is no longer observed.
Display of Cut Ties @ The Bear Inn Oxford (photo by @neelsmcgee)
The Bear Inn is home to some fantastic ales as well as some crowd-favourites on tap including; London Pride- which is the UK's leading premium ale, Firecracker - a rich tawny ale, Wild River - a double hopped pale ale and Chiswick - a former CAMRA champion beer of Britain, just to name a few.
What I absolutely love about this pub is the interior. The floor is oak, which has been worn and weathered by the feet of countless generations, while the light chestnut-brown tones of the wooden panels that adorn the walls are warm and comforting; both the snug and side bar have that indefinable sense of cosiness that makes for a great pub (there's also a back room with more ties of course) and a fantastic little outside area for those hot summer days (which, in England, are few and far between).
Unfortunately my partner and I didn't end up testing the food menu, however I didn't hear any bad reviews so this is always an option if you find yourself in Oxford. Definitely worth a visit The Bear Inn is Oxfords' little treasure.