Brief History and Interior
The Old Bell was reputedly built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1670 as a hostel for workers rebuilding St Bride’s Church after the Great Fire of London. St Bride’s Church is located next door and is thought to have been the inspiration for the traditionally tiered wedding cake.
Prior to the Old Bell, the pub was known as the Twelve Bells, the Golden Ball or Bell and when it was known as the Sun in 1500, Wynkyn de Worde, former assistant to England’s first printer William Caxton, installed a printing press there. Books printed there were ’emprynted at the sygne of the Sun Flete Strete’.
At the Fleet Street entrance is a small flagstoned area which, according to the menu at the pub, was an off license that was completely separate to the pub. Back then, the pub would have been accessed from the St Brides Avenue entrance at the rear.
Up a few steps is a larger room with a u-shaped bar that’s partitioned in the centre. I’m not sure if the partition would have extended further across the room. Around the bar is a variety of seating including comfy seating against the wall and some odd triangular stools. At either end of the room is a roaring fire.
The pub is operated by Nicholsons so has got a good selection of ales with Deuchars IPA and Timothy Taylor being regulars. Guests when I visited were Sharps Doom Bar and Thornbridge Jaipur IPA.
Other Pubs in the Area
If you are looking to visit the Old Bell, bear in mind that being a city pub, it is only open Monday – Friday. And if you do visit there are no shortage of pubs in the area including Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the Black Friar, the Crown and Sugarloaf, the Punch Tavern and the Tipperary.
More Photos of the Old Bell
The Old Bell Tavern
95 Fleet Street
Tel: 020 7583 0216
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