This modest pub was built in the 1670's for the masons who were rebuilding St. Brides Church (designed by Sir Christopher Wren) which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. The Old Bell has been a licensed tavern for more than 300 years and has a long association with Fleet Street's printers. Caxton's apprentice, Wynkyn de Worde, moved his printing press here in 1500.
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Fleet Street became synonymous with printing and newspapers, most of Britain's daily's were printed here until the 1970's & 80's when a slow exodus started eastward towards Docklands. Hacks and printers alike patronised the Old Bell, as well as the dozen or so other pubs nearby. Newspapers were born in the coffee shops of the mid seventeenth century; comment and gossip was written down and passed around. Before long it developed into a printed newsletter. The early coffee shops had evolved from taverns and continued to sell wines and spirits.
The printers may have left, but the Old Bell still does brisk trade from office workers and tourists. The well worn wooden floor undulates and customers perch carefully on the unique triangular oak stools. There have been some changes but it is still a cosy, informal pub full of character. The split-level seating area at the front of the pub was once the off-licence, now re-incorporated, its pretty coloured leaded glass windows facing Fleet Street.
From the hustle and bustle of Fleet Street, the back door leads into the tranquility of St. Brides Church courtyard. St. Brides is still the spiritual home of British journalism and its spire is said to have been the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake. Wynkin de Worde was buried here in 1535.