In a land of giants, saints, smugglers and pirates, Cornwall has more than its fair share of history tucked under its sand-kissed, windswept belt. Shrouded in legend and lore, it not only draws those looking to experience its wild beauty first-hand, but also those hoping to delve beneath its surface and uncover some of its fascinating stories.
Providing modern-day time-traps to the past, Cornwall is peppered with historic pubs brimming with such tales. Of course, you’ll never have to venture too far before you find a traditional inn waiting to welcome you in; but Cornwall’s oldest pubs have an undeniable presence and charm you’ll find hard to resist. Let the fires be hot, the drinks be cold and the conversation flow long into the night …
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The Old Inn, St Breward (11th century)
Quite possibly Cornwall’s oldest pub, the aptly named Old Inn in St Breward has roots winding all the way back to the 11th century. Welcoming tradesmen and weary travellers for a millennium, it’s hard not to be blown away by the amount of history contained within its walls. Even harder to contemplate, the village itself dates back to 8,000 BC!
Now, you can get an award-winning roast here or even hold a function at a formidable 720' above sea level, as the Old Inn is the highest pub in Cornwall. So, treat yourself to a Cornish ale, sit by the original 11th-century granite fireplace and soak up the history.
The Crown Inn, Lanlivery (12th century)
At home amongst the brooding, untamed countenance of Bodmin Moor, The Crown Inn is an enchanting place. Built along the Saint’s Way, it was originally used to accommodate local builders and craftsmen working on the nearby St Brevita Church. As part of their payment, builders were offered “mash”, a fermented drink – although these days, punters are offered something a little more refined!
A self-proclaimed ‘pub’ pub, The Crown Inn is proud to follow a Cornish way of life and therefore holds the local community dear to its heart. Therefore, it prides itself on using local produce in its food offerings and upholds the belief that the beer and wine must be of a decent, traditional pub calibre. You can eat in the restaurant or conservatory, and drink in the casual bar or beer garden.
Victoria Inn, Penzance (12th century)
A stone’s throw from the awe-inspiring St Michael’s Mount, the Victoria Inn in Penzance is one of the area’s oldest pubs. Popular for its award-winning menu, the pub’s polished edges are subtly undercut by the thick open beams and exposed stone walls, hinting at the building’s age. Able to trace its heritage all the way back to the 12th century, it is certainly one for the bucket list.
This pub is great for a meal before a show at the Minack Theatre and you can enjoy award-winning food and good Cornish ales and cider. This is another pub that utilises the wealth of local produce growing nearby and there’s even a special over-60s lunch every Tuesday. If you just fancy a drink, there’s a roaring fire for colder days and a terraced garden for the summer months.
Weary Friar, Saltash (12th century)
Another pub built to coincide with the construction of a nearby church (this one being the Church of St Odolphus), the 12th-century Weary Friar was the welcome haunt of a steady stream of builders looking to wind down after a long day. Follow in the footsteps of these hardy young men and nestle within its thick walls for a night of yarn spinning and beer sipping.
You’ll be proximal to many great destinations when popping into this pub, including the Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan. But ensure you stay long enough to enjoy the bar menu and the great selection of beers and wines. Check the website and you might even be in town when the next quiz night is being held.
The Bush Inn, Morwenstow (13th century)
Head over to Morwenstow’s Bush Inn and fall in love with the views, atmosphere and, of course, history. A 13th-century country pub, The Bush Inn still oozes authentic character and intrigue whilst enjoying a slightly more contemporary facelift. Original to a T and oh-so welcoming, it is the perfect spot to lap up the warmth of an open fire in winter or soak up the sunshine in summer in the beautiful sea view garden.
Open all day long and all year round, there’s never a bad time to visit. The kids even have a play area to enjoy when the weather is balmy. The food is scrumptious pub grub that won’t break the bank, yet it is home-cooked using local produce and is served throughout the day. There’s even live music most weekends so time your visit right and have a little bit of rock with your roll!
The Pandora Inn, Mylor (13th century)
Overlooking the picturesque Restronguet Creek, it’s easy enough to lose yourself in the romance of the Pandora Inn. With its rich history and wealth of tales, it will quickly become a firm favourite. Although the pub is currently named after a naval ship that sank off the Great Barrier Reef in 1791, there has been a pub on the site since the 13th century. Tread its historic flagstone floors and retrace the footsteps of time.
The low-beamed ceilings and thatched roof will have you thinking you’re still in the 13th century, yet the food and drink offering is anything but old-fashioned. The Pandora showcases an extensive wine list, along with award-winning food; enjoy a drink out on the pontoon during the summer or by the roaring log fires in the winter.
The Turk’s Head, Penzance (13th century)
Penzance has some of the best pubs in Cornwall. The Turk’s Head earnt its name following the Turkish invasion of Penzance in 1233. Concealing a huge number of secrets within its walls, including authentic priest holes and a genuine smugglers’ tunnel, it must be one of the most fascinating pubs in the UK. Exuding charm and quirkier than ever, you will be hard-pressed not to be captivated.
Located by Penzance Quay, this is the oldest pub in town and offers a shanty style that you just don’t get with more modern pubs and bars. With bucket-loads of character inside and a suntrap terrace garden outside, you’ll have everything you need to unwind in the cool sea breeze. And not only this, we’d argue it’s one of the best dog-friendly pubs in Cornwall.
Treguth Inn, Holywell Bay (13th century)
A picture-perfect thatched pub perched above Holywell Bay, the 13th-century Treguth Inn takes visitors on a passage through time. Originally a farmstead and a tearoom before becoming a public house, it also happens to be one of the county’s most haunted pubs!
Numerous reports detail a shadowy figure lurking in corners and mysteriously broken objects throughout the pub. However, we’re not sure if these reports coincide with Happy Hour. Well, there’s only one way to find out…!
Self-catering cottages in Cornwall
When staying in this beautiful county, you not only have these Cornwall pubs full of character to choose from, but you’ll also have a plethora of choice from the best restaurants in Cornwall. Come and make the most of the mild climate and magnificent coastlines and stay in a self-catering cottage in Cornwall.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.