Pub row over which one is the oldest

History: The Red Lion as pictured in the late 1800s/early 1900s

Oldest? The Royal Standard, whose claims of being the oldest pub has been dismissed by a historian

First published in News

A dispute has broken out over which watering hole has been serving ale the longest in south Bucks after a historian raised doubts about how old The Royal Standard of England is.

The pub in Brindle Lane claims to have served ale since the 11th century and is said to have housed both King Charles I and II through its history.

But these claims have been questioned by historian Miles Green, who believes the first evidence of it as a drinking venue is from as recently as 1830.

According to records held at the county records office in Aylesbury, the first drinking establishment in the Penn Parish was in fact either The Crown or The Red Lion, both in Penn, which were the only two ale houses found on record in 1577.

The issue arose after Robert Massie, whose wife Tina took over the Red Lion in Penn Road, Knotty Green, a year ago, applied for planning permission to the district council.

He was passed on to Miles Green, who is also the parish clerk for the area, and when Mr Massie found out he was also a historian, he asked him if he would help put together a piece for their website.

"We have reports which go back at least 900 years."

Paul Dorehill

Mr Massie mentioned that he knew their pub was not as old as The Royal Standard and was shocked by the historian's response.

Mr Massie, 46, said the historian told him not to believe all the hype about The Royal Standard's history, claiming it was fabricated by people who took over the pub in the late 18th, early 19th century.

According to the historian, the first record of any drinking establishment at the site in Brindle Lane was in 1830 after the Beer Act was passed which allowed houses to set aside a room for people to drink in. They were not pubs as they could not sell spirits.

The Standard states that they received their name from Charles II after they helped his father Charles I, a statement which the historian believes is not possible as they did not receive their name until 1863.

The pub, which used to be called The Britannia and The Ship prior to then, claims the reason why the Standard does not appear on the parish map is because the boundaries were moved, a claim denied by Mr Green.

He said: "That is simply not true, the plans have remained the same for almost 1,000 years. The parish boundaries were set up when the churches were built in the 12th century. There is no evidence to show that it was a pub before 1830 and if I had to guess, I think that it was probably a farmhouse."

According to the records The Red Lion dates back from at least 1753.

The Royal Standard denies the historian's claims and is adamant that it is the oldest freehouse in England. Paul Dorehill, manager and part owner of The Royal Standard, said: "We have reports which go back at least 900 years.

"We even believe we have evidence as far back as 400 AD and the reason why they can't find us, is because they are looking at the wrong maps.

"We had a man look into our history and although he is not a historian I can guarantee that he has read more books than anyone on the subject."

Matthew O'Keefe, the other part owner of the pub, added: "Vikings used to raid up the Thames and people built further away from the river to avoid homes getting burnt by the raids - that's written in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. There is a well, which is covered by our car park, but in those days where there was a well people made beer.

"There are about five different pubs which claim to be the oldest, but it depends what criteria you take but what we can say is we are the first free house in the country that isn't privately owned.

"Ten per cent of our customers come from abroad just to see the pub."

Two pubs lay claim to being the oldest pubs in Britain. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is recognised as the oldest by the Guinness Book of Records, which states it is an 11th century building on an 8th century site. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, in Nottingham, also claims to be the oldest in the country with records dating back to 1189.

To find out more about the Royal Standard of England, visit www.rsoe.co.uk For more information on the Red Lion, visit www.redlionweb.com

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