VisitEngland’s selection of great English pubs for the National Pub Week, 26 October – 4 November

London, UK, 2013-10-21— / — We’ve got a lot to thank our pubs for, above and beyond the perfectly fluffy chip and well-poured pint. Our pubs are woven into the fabric of English history and culture, and have been the scene of many dramatic happenings, genius inventions, and perfect partnerships. To mark National Pub Week, 26 October – 4 November, VisitEngland looks at just a few of the great English pubs that have made history.

The Dove in Hammersmith is believed to be the pub where James Thomson wrote ‘Rule Britannia’, tucked away in an upstairs room. Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway also frequented The Dove, which is still a hugely popular pub today. Dating back to 17th century, The Dove is a quaint, wooden building with a nautical feel. The pub claims to have the smallest bar in England, though thankfully there’s more than one.

Famous English hymn Jersusalem is also said to have been penned in a Public House. The composer and poet William Blake reportedly wrote the words from a bay window at The Earl of March  in Lavant, Sussex, while taking in the glorious South Downs scenery.

The Bell Inn in Watchet, Somerset is where poet Coleridge wrote some of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – given the length of this epic piece of work, it’s likely that many pints were consumed during Coleridge’s visits to the Bell. Meanwhile, theWoolpack Inn in Slad will forever be associated with the late author Laurie Lee, who was a regular at the pub. The village and surrounding countryside inspired his most famous book ‘Cider with Rosie’. 2014 marks 100 years since the birth of Laurie Lee and celebratory events will take place throughout the year in Slad and Stroud to mark the occasion. A special exhibition at Stroud’s Museum in the Park will feature never-seen-before drawings and paintings.

The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead is one of London’s oldest pubs, and another literary inspiration. Dickens had his part to play – he wrote about the pub in the Pickwick Papers – while Keats is believed to have written Ode to a Nightingale over a claret or two here. Byron too drank at the Spaniards Inn and the pub is mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula; one of the pub’s ghost stories inspires a plot in the book.

Located directly opposite Windsor Castle, Ye Olde King’s Head is one of the most iconic pubs in royal Windsor. It’s where William Shakespeare reputedly stayed while writing The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A public house since 1650, The Eagle and Child in Oxford takes its name from the crest of the Earls of Derby. This traditional English pub is located within a short stroll of t Johns College, Oxford University. The Eagle and Child has a fascinating past and lays claim to a number of interesting literary connections. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and fellow writers regularly met here and dubbed themselves ‘The Inklings’.

The Eagle is one of Cambridge’s oldest pubs, and it’s best known for the announcement that took place here in 1953. The pub has long been popular with scientists, due to its proximity to the laboratories at Cavendish Hall, and it was here in 1953 that Francis Crick and James Watson burst through the doors to announce their discovery of ‘the secret of life’. They had discovered DNA. This single moment has been recognised as one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century, and an English Heritage Blue Plaque is displayed in the pub today, recognising the achievement of Crick and Watson. That’s one question at The Eagle’s popular pub quiz you’re bound to get right.

Built for the staff of the great houses of Belgravia, and surrounded by the mews houses built for horses and their masters,The Star Tavern has been going strong since the early 19th century. But in the 1960s, this was the plotting ground for the Great Train Robbery, the country’s biggest heist of the time, which pulled in the equivalent of £40m in today’s money. The place where Bruce Reynolds & co cooked up their plan is a more civil affair today, with a dining room upstairs, two fireplaces, a heart menu and a welcoming atmosphere.

Back in 1642, “the plot” took place in Ye White Harte’s appropriately named “plotting parlour”, above the back bar.  The clandestine discussions (no doubt over a few of the excellent single malts) are believed to have triggered the English civil war. The upstairs ‘plotting parlour’ still stands today, and this Hull pub is reportedly haunted today by an eerie 17th century figure.

The Silent Woman at Wareham in Dorset played a part in one of the most historic events of the 20th century. This pretty country pub in the Wareham forest was the secret meeting place of Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower who met to plan the D Day landings in the Second World War.

The world-famous Trent Bridge Inn is attached to Trent Bridge Cricket ground in Nottingham. In fact, the pub existed before the cricket ground and the publican William Clarke, who was also Captain of the Cricket club, originally gave permission for the land behind the pub to be used for matches. It has permission to serve drinks at games written into NCCC’s constitution so you’re always assured of a decent pint at test matches.

In Bristol, the waterfront Nova Scotia is where the cycling charity Sustrans (originally called Saddlebag) was first formed around a friendly pint or two amongst friends. The charity went on to create 14,000 miles of cycle network all over the UK.

The Ten Bells in Spitalfields, East London, was the notorious hangout of anonymous 19th century serial killer ‘Jack the Ripper’. The pub is linked to two of the Ripper’s victims: Annie Chapman is said to have drunk at the pub shortly before her murder, while Mary Kelly was taken from the front of the pub. The Ten Bells is mentioned in the graphic novel From Hell about Jack the Ripper, and the pub is featured in the 2001 film adaptation starring Johnny Depp. Jack the Ripper tours of East London include visits to the Ten Bells Pub.

Just up the road from the Ten Bells, The Blind Beggar was the site of The Kray Brothers’ most gruesome murder, where George Conwell was shot in front of patrons enjoying a quiet drink. In a more positive contribution, this is also the pub where the Salvation Army was formed, as the spot where founder William Booth gave his first sermon in 1865.

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Notes to Editors: 

About England 
• Historic yet contemporary, traditional yet cutting-edge, metropolitan yet wild: England is truly a unique destination and a real powerhouse in global tourism.
• With ancient Hadrian’s Wall straddling the wild north and the world’s biggest indoor tropical rainforest nestled in the far south, England really is the ultimate mix of old and new as well as being home to some of the most iconic sites in the world, including Stonehenge, the honey-hued Georgian terraces of Bath and the towering peaks and glistening meres of the Lake District.
• Did you know that in 2010 there were 96.4 million domestic overnight trips in England, 25.5 million inbound visits and 872 million tourism day trips?
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