11 historical pubs in Devon you have to visit

PUBLISHED: 07:31 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 09 July 2020

Cott Inn, Dartington (c) John Victor Cooper, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Cott Inn, Dartington (c) John Victor Cooper, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Public Houses are a cornerstone of life here in Britain, dating back as far as the Roman invasion in 43 AD. Devon is no different and its humble establishments are steeped in history and nostalgia. We’ve taken a look at 11 of the county’s most historical pubs

1) The Cridford Inn, Trusham

Not only is this the oldest pub in Devon, it is claimed that this is the oldest surviving pub in the UK, dating back over 1,000 years to the year 825 AD.

Based in the picturesque village of Trusham, in the Teign Valley, this quintessential country longhouse is a true Devon gem.

2) The Hole in the Wall, Torquay

Regarded as the oldest pub in Torquay, this historic tavern has been serving the likes of smugglers, men-of-the-sea and business men since around 1540. If only the old cobbled floors could speak, they’d certainly have some tales to tell.

Located near the harbour, in the seaside town of Torquay, this place provides the perfect portal for transporting you back to a by-gone era.

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3) The Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island

Set on one of Devon’s most iconic spots, on Burgh Island, The Pilchard Inn was established some seven centuries ago. It has since been a watering hole for fishermen on the island and mainland shores, along with smugglers and wreckers who lured ships onto the Western rocks.

Nowadays, however, the pub attracts a more genteel clientele, owing to The Burgh Island Hotel with which it now shares the island.

4) The Ship Inn, Exeter

Supposedly a regular haunt for the legendary Sir Francis Drake, this historic watering hole on Martin’s Street, just off the High Street, is a structure remaining from the Tudor period.

Despite being modernized to reflect its city setting, this place still captures the essence of its long-standing heritage.

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5) The Warren House Inn, Dartmoor

Not only has this moorland tavern been a stopping place for travelers since the mid-18th century, it also holds the title for the highest pub in southern England, at 1,425 feet (434m) above sea level.

Expect a warm welcome, not least because the fire is said to have been burning continuously since 1845.

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6) The George and Dragon, Ilfracombe

Dating back to 1360, the oldest pub in Ilfracombe is a traditionalist’s dream: with wooden beams, large fireplaces and, if you’re lucky, a ghost or two, it’s a throwback to the pubs of old.

Darts, dominoes and decks of cards are the locals’ favourites while it’s also an explicitly mobile-free zone. Fruit machines and juke boxes are also strict no-gos, allowing the pub to maintain its cosy, old-fashioned ethos.

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7) The Oxenham Arms Inn, South Zeal

At 840 years old, this former 12th century monastery has certainly earned its place on this list. Located in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park, this rustic bar offers a heritage haven of low beams, flagged floors and mullioned windows.

It’s little wonder that this place has attracted the likes of Charles Dickens and The Reverend Sabine Baring Gould over the course of its long existence. Before you leave head to the snug bar to see and touch The South Zeal Menhir - a 5000-year-old Neolithic standing stone previously used for Pagan worship.

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8) The Bridge Inn, Topsham

There is believed to have been a dwelling on this site as early as 1086, however, what still stands today is substantially 16th century.

There is an old, former brew-house at the rear of the building, which has remains of the hop-drying floor and a large brewing chimney. The Bridge has a long history of promoting real ales from local breweries, which continues to the present day.

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9)The Minerva Inn, Plymouth

Dating back to around 1540, The Minerva Inn is Plymouth’s oldest serving public house. One of the pub’s most frequently regaled tales from the 17th century involves a Press Gang forcing unknowing pub goers into naval service by dropping a King’s shilling – a historical slang term for the payment given to armed forces recruits - into their beer.

Once they have a sip, that would be regarded as ‘taking the King’s shilling’ and they would be taken to join the navy. Any resistance would be responded to with violence and you could well expect to wake up on a boat with a sore head – sounds similar to a typical heavy night out in modern times!

10) Ye Olde Jolly Sailor, Teignmouth

Where better to soak up some local history than the oldest pub in the beautiful seaside town of Teignmouth? Records suggest that there has been an ale house on this site since 1132 giving the pub a long and fascinating history.

Of the many tales that are told, one is that the only reason it’s still standing today is because it was used as headquarters during the 1690 French invasion, where forces from across The Channel sailed into the estuary and ransacked the town.

11) The Cott Inn, Dartington

One of the oldest thatched inns in Britain, this family-run pub has been serving people since 1320 AD.

Nestled within the picturesque village of Dartington, which sits between the Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon coastline, this place offers a rustic pub experience with oodles of history to boot. We reviewed the pub back in 2017 and found out more about its links to the wool and tin trade as well as a 1989 fire that nearly closed the pub forever.


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