A pub, reputedly the oldest in Britain, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, Hertfordshire, has closed its doors after 13 centuries.
Time has been called on Britain’s oldest pub, which has been serving drinks since 793AD after it went into administration when the effects of the pandemic made it impossible for the owners to continue trading. Announcing the sad news, owner Christo Tofalli said he had been left “heartbroken”.
Writing on Facebook, he said: "It is with great sadness that I have to announce that today, after a sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions, YOFC Ltd has gone into administration".
High taxes and business rates had been affecting business even before the pandemic, the owner said.
"But we were able to survive and were following an exciting five-year plan and were hopeful for the future", he continued.
"However, the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating and our already tight profit margins gave us no safety net.
"This resulted in us being unable to meet our financial obligations as they were due, creating periods of great uncertainty and stress for all who worked for, and with, the pub."
More than 10,000 licensed premises including pubs and restaurants closed their doors for good last year alone in Britain, with some estimates putting the loss of restaurants at 1-in-10. And with challenging times ahead due to supply chain issues, inflation and cost of living increases, there could well be more high profile casualties on the way.
The history of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
The current building housing Ye Olde Fighting Cocks was built in the 11th century, but the pub dates back to the 8th century. Tunnels are said run from the pub’s beer cellar to St Albans Cathedral, which stands across the road, and they were apparently used by monks to ensure a hearty supply of ale. So the legend goes, Oliver Cromwell slept at the pub during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Originally called The Roundhouse, the pub was to change its name to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks after the bloodsport that took place in the main bar there since the 18th century.