Ale and beer blessed by sub-dean of St Albans at oldest pub in Britain

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans - Credit: Archant

Ale and beer were blessed in St Albans yesterday (March 29) in an unusual community bonding event.

Sub-dean of St Albans, Richard Watson, came to the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks at around 9pm to celebrate their refurbishment cathedral-style - by giving the new drinks on offer a two minute blessing.

Sixteen different ales are now sold at the pub after a £27,000 cellar revamp and new oak bar has been installed.

The 11th century pub, which is the oldest in Britain, used to be St Albans Cathedral’s pigeon coup and it is believed tunnels from the pub cellar to the landmark were used by monks.

Explaining the blessing, landlord of the pub, Christo Tofalli, said it was important to preserve historical links with the cathedral: “It was amazing, it was about the community, and it was such a success.

“I have never heard of a drinks blessing before, but we are trying to achieve the community spirit of goodness.”

This is not the first time this pub has collaborated with the church, as it was the latest in a string of St Albans pubs to hold a Carols till Closing event last Christmas.

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Richard came down with a guitarist and everyone in the pub sung festive songs - Christo and Richard are planning a similar charity event this summer called Pimms with Hymns.

Speaking of the yuletide event, Christo he had never seen anything like it before: “Whether you came to the pub to get something to eat, to meet friends, come with a first date - every single person in the pub was taking part and I wanted to repeat that community spirit again last night.”

He said the blessing was “so well received”, and described it as exactly what St Albans is about.

Richard quoted a 10th Century Irish saint, Brigid of Kildare, in the blessing: “I would like to give a lake of beer to God, I would love the heavenly host to be tippling there for all eternity.

“I’d sit with the men and women of God there, by the lake of beer, we would be drinking good health together and every drop would be a prayer.”