Ahh, ye olde English tavern. Was there ever a better place to be in, night or day? We are graced with many a grand establishment in Brighton, many that have stood strong for hundreds of years.
We've spent A LOT of time in Brighton pubs and restaurants, so thought it high time to pay a proper tribute to some of the oldest and dearest. So quench your thirst for knowledge aplenty, and delve into former times spent by wenches who bismirched themselves in the same watering holes.
One of the oldest and most historic buildings in Brighton, The Pump House dates from at least 1776, when it was bought by a Miss Elliot, whose initials still mark the stone fireplace of the bar more than 240 years on.
The pub is named after the pump that brought seawater to Williams Baths, as Edwardians believed the sea had health-giving properties. The cellars of the building date back to medieval times, which predictably makes the Pump House one of the most haunted pubs in Brighton, and is a regular stop on the city’s ghost walks.
Pub landlords have seen a woman in a white dress, another in a black dress, and have heard voices after closing time.
Looking from the outside, it’s no surprise that The Black Lion pub might have some history. However, looks can be deceiving, as this is just a reconstruction of part of one of the oldest brewery buildings in the world. Established in 1546, the Black Lion brewery was founded by Deryk Carver, a Flemish immigrant. The first Protestant to be martyred under Mary I, he was burnt in a barrel outside the Star Inn at Lewes in 1555, flinging his Bible into the crowd in defiance.
The brewery, with its 54-foot well, was used by various brewers during the nineteenth and twentieth century, but was demolished in 1968 after years of disuse. The current pub was built in 1974 as a replica of part of the brewery using many original flints and slates.
Situated next door to the Black Lion pub, The Cricketers is one of few remaining old buildings in Brighton, in the historic Lanes. Now the oldest continuous public house in the town centre, The Cricketers is housed in a listed building, as it dates from around 1545. In 1790, a Mr Jutton became the pub’s landlord and, being a keen cricketer, gave the pub its present name.
The pub gets a name-check in 1938 Graham Greene novel Brighton Rock and, as a result, the upstairs room was named The Greene Room, with memorabilia associated with the writer.
Originally a bow-fronted two storey Georgian building on the site of an old farmhouse, the King and Queen first gained a licence in 1779 to cater for the mass influx of people into the city for sporting events held on the Steine. It also served as the city’s corn market until the Corn Exchange opened in 1868 – unsurprising even now due to its size.
Though the building is historic enough, the Tudor style in which it was built pre-dates the pub, which was renovated in the early 1930s to appear in the style it still does today.
Notable for its gorgeous late-Victorian architecture, with its high ceilings and decorated columns, Seven Stars is a gorgeous split-level contemporary styled pub on Ship Street in the Lanes. The pub for many years bore the inscription ‘established 1535’ – so it’s safe to say its been around for a while, though not ordinarily as a pub. In 1901, the site of Seven Stars served as the meeting place that ultimately formed Brighton & Hove Albion, our now awesome Premiership League football team.
Brighton has become well known up and down the country for its quirky nature, and hosts the largest ratio of vegetarians in any city in the UK. Not surprising then, that it also boasts one of the first proper dedicated veggie restaurants in the country. Serving delightful meat-free dishes since 1981, Food for Friends is still a regular favourite among veggies and meat eaters alike, and has become very much a Brighton institution.
Tucked away in the heart of the Lanes, just off East Street, is the oldest restaurant in Brighton: English’s. Serving quality local seafood since 1945, the restaurant has fed celebrity diners from Charlie Chaplin to Dame Judi Dench - as well as regular Brighton residents – a range of traditional and contemporary seafood dishes. Only the freshest and finest seafood has been served on this site for over 150 years, accompanied with a warm welcome, so it’s really no wonder English’s remains a firm favourite among locals – and it doesn’t break the bank.
Rumour has it the restaurant even has its own resident spirit – a gentleman in an oversized top hat who roams the kitchen, overlooking the chefs; surely this warrants a visit alone?