The 10 Best Pubs in Yorkadmin
York is an amazing city for drinking. Its public houses ooze character, and local breweries turn out some tasty real ales.
In this guide, local author and historian Paul Chrystal presents what he considers to be the 10 best pubs in York.
All that remains to be said is: Cheers!
1 The Maltings
Tanner’s Moat, York YO1 6HU
This excellent pub was originally called the Railway Tavern (because it was near York’s two railway stations), and later The Lendal Bridge Inn (because it is just off the bridge); it was established in 1842. The current owner purchased the pub from Bass in 1992, and renamed it The Maltings.
2 The Golden Fleece
23 Peasholme Green, York YO1 7PR
The ancient Golden Fleece still survives with its impressive golden sheep hanging above the door. The pub is reputedly haunted, home to no fewer than seven ghosts. Earliest mention of the building is in the City Archive of 1503; it originally belonged to The Merchant Adventurers who named it to celebrate and maintain their thriving trade in wool.
It is York’s second oldest continuously licensed premises – dating back to 1668. The frontage is mid-19th century, but rear parts go back to 16th century, and are what is left of a courtyard for coaches: the Golden Fleece was a major coaching inn in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
3 The Blue Bell
53 Fossgate, York, YO1 9TF
This, York’s smallest pub, and one of the best, was opened in 1798 when the back of the pub faced on to Fossgate and the front was in Lady Peckett’s Yard.
The Blue Bell hosted fundraising meetings to raise the £2,000 needed to buy land for a ground at Fulfordgate (Eastwood Avenue) for the nascent York City and, later, York City FC held their board meetings here; in World War II it served as a soup kitchen. Women were barred from the public bar until as recently as the 1990s. Drinking is encouraged in the narrow corridor where a drop-down seat gives some rest to the weary.
4 The York Tap
York Railway Station
Station Rd, York YO24 1AB
‘Well worth missing your train for’, so says one of the (true for a change) online comments. It is a wonderful conversion from the old York Model Railway. Both rooms are exquisitely furnished and the ambience is excellent. The building, which was built in the early 1900s, features restored original fireplaces and stained-glass windows and skylights.
5 Ye Olde Starre Inn
40 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
This is York’s oldest licensed public house, serving drinks since at least 1644. The earliest reference is of a printer, Puritan sympathiser Thomas Broad, dwelling at Mistress Roger’s house in Stonegate, ‘over against the Starre’ in 1644.
Originally, there was a coaching yard in front, but with the coming of the railways in 1840 this became redundant, and the yard was infilled with a shop fronting Stonegate, hence the present long passage to the pub. It was this boxing in that affected trade and inspired landlord Thomas Bulman in 1733 to erect the striking gallows sign of the Olde Starre Inne which still stretches impressively across the street.
6 The Ackhorne
St Martin’s Lane
9 St Martin’s Lane, York YO1 6LR
This is a fine 18th century traditional pub in a cobbled street off Micklegate. John Hill, owner of the Golden Ball, bought the premises in 1738 and converted what was then a house into the pub. In 1818 it was known as the Acorn but reverted to the original name in 1993.
7 The Golden Slipper
20 Goodramgate, York YO1 7LG
‘To create the unique ambience of an English country pub, but in the very heart of the beautiful City of York.’ That’s the aim of the current owners of this wonderful pub. The northeastern part of the pub was built in the 15th and 16th centuries while the 19th century saw the rest completed and the Victorian brick facade added.
In 1984 during alteration works workmen found a mediaeval leather slipper, one of a pair of two that was built into 14th century buildings to ward off evil spirits; it is now displayed in the front snug lounge.
8 The Black Swan
A fine former mid-16th century merchant’s mansion, the Black Swan is a former coaching station. Seriously haunted and also known as The Mucky Duck, it is one of the oldest licensed houses in York.
The upstairs room was the venue for illegal cockfights; the grill used by the guard to watch the stairs can still be seen. The pub still has a fine oak staircase and a magnificent Delft fireplace.
9 The House of Trembling Madness
48 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
As the website states, “the trembling madness… or delirium tremens (DTs) as it’s more commonly known has been around since people have been drinking that intoxicating liquor. And our medieval hall has lived through times of hardship and experienced much death. The rear end started life in 1180 AD as the first Norman House to be built in York and still that wall holds up the old ship beams above our heads, those beams sailed the seas over 800 years ago.”
10 The Red Lion
2 Merchantgate, York YO1 9TU
The Red Lion is built on 13th century foundations, with a 14th–15th century superstructure; a bread oven has been discovered dating from the 14th century; it now resides in the front bar. The pub has two side wings of c.1600. It claims to be the oldest building in York to be used as a pub, though it has only been licensed since 1783.
The pub is notable for its priest hole, hidden between two bedrooms and up one of the chimneys; the Red Lion was presumably a refuge for York recusants when the building was probably a private dwelling. There is a legend that Dick Turpin hid here and escaped through a window.
Is there a perfect pub crawl in York that takes in the best real ale and historic pubs?
There are so many pubs in York that it’s easy to get lost along the way if you’re trying to plan a pub crawl. With the best information at hand, you need not fall into this trap.
Pubs in and Around York is a celebration of all the great pubs in York and the surrounding villages – literally hundreds of them! The author, local historian Paul Chrystal lives in York and knows all of the best establishments very well. His mission was to put together the pub crawl to end all pub crawls, showcasing all of York’s best pubs and telling something of their history and what makes them great.
The result is this wonderful book, illustrated with photographs and with maps to help you on your own pub crawl.
Listing over 100 pubs both within and without York city walls, including local villages like Haxby, Poppleton, Bishopthorpe and Fulford.
Join historian Paul Chrystal on this York pub crawl to end all pub crawls. Take in the histories and anecdotes relating to each of these fine establishments because, in many ways, the history of York’s pubs mirrors the history of York itself.