England was under the reign of King Eadred and the first millennium was approaching when ales were first served at the Bingley Arms pub.
Now plans are afoot to celebrate the Bardsey boozer’s heritage and transform part of the site into a “mini Jorvik Viking Centre” as its owners look to reclaim its mantle as the oldest pub in England.
Formerly known as The Priests Inn, the pub was a popular spot for travelling monks, acting as a rest stop between Kirkstall Abbey and St Mary’s Abbey in York back in 953AD. The original inn now forms part of the Bingley Arms and was recognised as England’s oldest pub in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Following years fighting the dip in the pub trade, the Sugden family is keen to revive its story, which they say is largely unknown outside of the village.
They want to reopen the original inn, which has been used for storage, and turn it into a tourist attraction.
Bar manager of two-and-a-half years Ryan Sugden, 30, said: “It’s about making people aware of it, people need to be aware there is the oldest pub in the country on their doorstep.”
The Punch Taverns watering hole has recently been recognised by new tourist road signs but the Sugdens want to reclaim its title as the country’s oldest pub and celebrate 1,000 years of its history.
The Sugden family is even considering renaming the pub ‘The Priests Inn at the Bingley Arms’.
Ged Sugden, Ryan’s father and leaseholder at the Bingley Arms, is working with Punch, Leeds City Council and tourism officials in the hope of clearing the old Priests Inn and opening it up as a museum next year.
The 57-year-old publican said: “It’s the locals’s pub and I’m the caretaker.
“It was on its last legs at one time, they were talking about selling it to a nursing home but being local, we didn’t want to see that happen.
Ged has even invited Channel 4’s Time Team to investigate an filled passage that once linked it with The Parish Church of All Hallows.
BREWING IN 953AD
Samson Ellis was the first man on record to be brewing ales at The Priests Inn back in 953AD.
The original building, which could date back to 905AD, was a rest house used by travelling monks and also held a local court.
The main part of the pub, now known as the Bingley Arms, hosts two priest holes dating back to 1539 where Catholic priests hid for safety following the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.
It was renamed as the Bingley Arms in 1780 after it was taken over by Lord Bingley. Visit: www.bingleyarms.co.uk