The pub is a British institution. You could go to any corner pub, but we found the most unique pubs you can visit in Britain. Grab a pint and plan a British pub crawl through these weird pubs.
1. The Nutshell
The Nutshell, in Bury St. Edmunds, England, is a pint-sized pint dispensary dating back to 1867. The bar measures just 15ft by 7ft, making it the smallest pub in Britain. The tiny room once held 102 people and a small dog for a record-breaking challenge, but on a normal day anything upwards of 20 drinkers is enough to get you uncomfortably familiar with your neighbor.
Once you’ve elbowed your way through the crowds, you can enjoy the slightly disturbing artifacts and memorabilia adorning the walls and ceiling, including:
- A 300-year-old desiccated cat – the results of a quaint middle-ages tradition where builders would brick up kitties behind chimneys to ward off evil spirits (the Nutshell barman has said it apparently works as “we don’t sell Campari”).
- A three-legged chick in a jar
- A stuffed fox’s head wearing a bandana
- A Jackalope — a mythical animal from North America represented, in this case, by sticking horns onto an unfortunate hare.
Hmmm… we’re seeing a trend here. The pub asserts that it’s dog-friendly, but you might want to think twice before letting management have too close a look at Rover.
The bar’s ceiling is covered in nicotine-stained currencies from around the world, attesting to the hundreds of tourists that call in every year for a cramped tipple.
Just in case the grisly menagerie and worldwide renown isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the Nutshell is also reported to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy and a phantom monk.
2. The Severn Bore Inn
Britain isn’t exactly known for its natural phenomena — you’re more likely to be driven mad by the endless drizzle than blown away by hurricanes – but at the Severn Bore Inn, in Gloucestershire, you can have a relaxing pint while watching the equivalent of a mini tidal wave.
It turns out that this unassuming pub overlooks the River Severn, which is home to one of the world’s largest “bores”, or surge waves.
The Severn’s tidal range can be as much at 49ft, the second highest in the world. That, combined with the shape of the river, means that the water is funneled into a narrowing channel, forming a wave that can reach heights of up to 9.2ft, traveling at around 11mph. Hundreds of spectators turn up to see some of the more spectacular bores, while dozens of daredevils brave the murky waters to catch some surf.
It’s a dangerous sport — even the phenomenon’s official website advises people not to get in – so you might prefer to stay in the warm pub and watch the wave from the traditional inn on the sidelines.
3. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, in Nottinghamshire, is the oldest inn in England, dating from 1189AD — meaning that British blokes were enjoying a drink there nearly 600 years before the United States was founded. It’s built into the rocks below Nottingham castle — the ground level caverns are used as drinking rooms, and visitors can tour the network of caves that make up the cellars.
As well as its remarkable age and location, the pub boasts a full range of weird attractions, including:
- The Cursed Galleon — a miniature ship in one of the upstairs rooms. Legend has it that anyone who’s cleaned the model has ended up meeting a grisly end. Whether or not that was just an excuse for the landlords to stop dusting it is unclear, but the galleon has built up a thick layer of grime over the years.
- An antique chair which, it is claimed, will boost the fertility of any woman who sits on it. Decades of hopeful moms-to-be have so weakened the structure that it is now only used as a display piece.
4. The Crooked House
You’d be forgiven for wondering if you have already had to much to drink as you walk up to this pub. Decidedly on the wonky side, the Crooked House in Dudley is skewed some 15 degrees as a result of coal mining in the area.
The building was erected in 1765 as a farmhouse on a manor’s land – it was declared unsafe after it started tilting dramatically but was saved by a local brewery. The landlord says it’s now securely buttressed and that they’re keeping an eye on it – so don’t worry about visiting!
Inside, the quirky position of the pub leads to some fun optical illusions: visitors delight as marbles appear to roll uphill.
5. The Marsden Grotto
This pub in Tyne & Wear is the only one in Britain built into a cliff – making it a whole new category of ‘beach bar’.
Now specialising in seafood, the Marsden Grotto was blasted out of the cliff-face by a local in 1782, who soon realized his unusual abode would be a money maker; and constructed an impressive set of stairs leading down the cliff-side to encourage visitors. It was later reportedly used as a base for smuggling operations.
Legend has it that this salty shack is haunted by the ghost of John the Jibber, a smuggler who was murdered by his colleagues. According to the locals, a landlord can leave a pint out on the bar overnight and the thirsty spirit will have drained it by morning.