Hertford's pubs, bars and clubs are major contributors to the town's economy, with the number and variety of establishments drawing people from a wide area. Many of the town's pubs date back over a century, but which one is the oldest?
The Blackbirds in Parliament Square can trace its history back 400 years. It was originally known as The Magpie or Magpye, but by 1710 the Blackbirds name had been adopted. More recently the pub has been known as The Fledgling & Firkin, featuring its own microbrewery.
There has been a public house on the site of The Dog & Whistle since at least 1621. The pub has more recently been known as The Ram, due to the livestock market that took place behind the pub until 1958.
Other pubs with long histories have disappeared from Fore Street, such as The Talbot Arms and The Queen's Head, although evidence of both can easily be found. The Talbot Arms name can still be seen above the Ilvino cafe, and circular reliefs with heads of Queen Victoria and Elizabeth I can be found above Dirties restaurant. The Queen's Head closed in 1956 and The Talbot Arms around 1960.
The history of the White Hart goes back over two centuries and parts of the building date back to the 16th century. The pub was acquired by McMullens in 1908.
However, the oldest pub in Hertford was established 599 years ago, when it was known as The Bell.
The Fore Street hostelry has been known as The Salisbury Arms since around 1830 and played a significant part in the town's history. It's believed that Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax stayed at the inn during the English Civil War. It served as the Tory headquarters in the notorious election of 1832 which was marred by violence and intimidation.
The pub and hotel features thirty bedrooms, three bars and a restaurant. There is also a private function room on the first floor.
Whilst some of the town's pubs are over 400 years old, there is only one looking forward to its 600th birthday.
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