9 historic pubs in Somerset you need to visit

George Hotel and Pilgrims Inn, Glastonbury (c) Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

George Hotel and Pilgrims Inn, Glastonbury (c) Christian Mueller / Shutterstock - Credit: Archant

Exuding charm, and retaining much of the character they always have done, there's something special about a visit to a pub steeped in history. We pick 9 of the best to visit in Somerset.

Castle of Comfort, East Harptree

Believed to have once served refreshments to prisoners travelling from Wells Jail to Gibbets Brow, The Castle of Comfort was a resting point before they faced their fate in the hands of the notorious 'Hanging' Judge Jeferies. Nowadays the traditional country pub in the heart of East Harptree is one of the friendliest around, serving a menu of home cooked pub classics, alongside plenty of real ales and ciders. The large beer garden and play area is also perfect for families who fancy a leisurely pub lunch al fresco.

The Rose and Crown, Huish Episcopi

Affectionately known as Eli's, is a truly historic, and delightful, experience. It's been a pub since it was built in the mid-19th century, and has been in the hands of the same family for roughly 150 years. One of a small number of traditional pubs left in the UK without a bar counter, service is taken place upon flagstone flooring and from handpumps attached to a shelf in the original taproom.

Don't miss: Often a term that can be loosely thrown around, 'a hidden gem' is the perfect way to describe Eli's. When you find it, you can expect a warm welcome, a fantastic selection of real ales and ciders and a friendly welcome. Also keep on eye on the pub's Facebook page - they regularly announce special events.

The Sheppey, Lower Godney

Quenching the cider cravings of patrons for over 100 years, The Sheppey has a long history of being the local's favourite. After a brief stint in the 1970s when the pub famously ran out of cider, it was revamped and restored (and of course stocked up with plenty of different ciders), to become the watering-hole visitors know and love today. Expect regular live music, a varied range of speciality beers and ciders, modern European food and fun, retro interiors.

Don't miss: Pay The Sheppey Inn a visit in the summer where you can sample some delicious food with a cider in hand in the pub's garden, adjacent to the river and with mesmerising views over the Somerset Levels.

The George Inn, Norton St Philip

At over 700 years old, The George Inn in Norton St Philip is one of Somerset's, and reputedly one of England's, oldest pubs. Offering sanctuary for weary travellers for centuries, inside the Grade I listed building you'll still find plenty of antique furniture, exposed beams and the ancient galleried courtyard. In the colder months it's the perfect spot to cosy up in front of the pub's roaring log fire - and still offers accommodation if you fancy a peaceful getaway in an idyllic setting just a short drive away from Bath.

Don't miss: For tasty pub dishes cooked well, look no further than The George Inn. From fish of the day coated in Wadworth beer batter to the British classic of sausage and creamy mash, you're sure to find something to satisfy your hunger.

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Seymour Arms, Witham Friary

Transport yourself back in time with a visit to the charming Seymour Arms, a country pub in the small village of Witham Friary. Located between Frome and Bruton, the local pub, alongside the Village Hall and Parish Church are at the heart of village life, and it's easy to see why the locals love enjoying a cider or two there. Initially built as a hotel to serve the neighbouring mid-Somerset GWR branch railway station in the 1800s for the Duke of Somerset's Estate, once the station closed in the 1960s the hotel became the watering-hole that stands there today. Rich in history, and in-keeping with its original décor, it's a delightful spot to enjoy a drink.

Don't miss: Noted by CAMRA, the huge draw to the Seymour Arms is the pub's 'beautifully preserved interior'. Local ciders and real ales are served through an old hatch in the hallway and there are two simple yet comfortable rooms to relax in.

The Hatchet Inn, Bristol

Particularly popular with gig-goers heading to Bristol's O2 Academy or those shopping in the city, The Hatchet Inn draws in a cross-section of patrons making for a lively and vibrant atmosphere. Nestled in the heart of the city, according to most records this cosy and traditional ale house puts the first use of the building as a licensed premise to 1606. The name is reportedly attributed to the woodsmen in the nearby Clifton Woods who thought of the inn as their favourite meeting spot.

Don't miss: Lovers of the supernatural and all things spooky may be able to spot something ghostly at the Hatchet. The pub's gruesome history has led to many scary sightings over the years!

The George and Pilgrim, Glastonbury

Perfect for relaxing and refuelling after a countryside ramble up to the top of Glastonbury Tor, The George and Pilgrim is also a great spot for history lovers. Dating back to the 1400s, the historical pub and hotel once housed the medieval pilgrims visiting the town's Abbey. The building still maintains plenty of original features including old oak beams, mullion windows and panelled stone frontage.

Don't miss: For those exploring Glastonbury and the local area, The George and Pilgrim have 14 bedrooms equipped with all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay. There's also a great ale selection and a menu of homemade dishes.

Coeur De Lion, Bath

After a morning exploring the beautiful city of Bath, take refuge in the city's smallest pub, the Coeur De Lion with its gorgeous stained glass frontage. Steeped in a rich and varied history, dating back to 1860, the pub has since moved location, been petitioned to remain open and been celebrated by CAMRA for its extensive range of ales. Now owned by Bath's only brewery Abbey Ales, it's the perfect spot for a pint, enjoying a bite to eat and soaking in the jovial atmosphere.

Don't miss: Sitting nearby, the Saracens Head also boasts an interesting 300 years of history and counts Charles Dickens as one of its visitors.

Bell Inn, Buckland Dinham

The small village of Buckland Dinham, rich in over a thousand years of recorded history, is a delight to explore. Pay a visit to the historic 16th-century pub in the village, The Bell Inn, which offers patrons a warm, friendly welcome and a fantastic choice whether you're after a few drinks or something to eat. Admire the period features while you take a seat in the Inn including the inglenook fireplace, exposed stone walls and an attached converted barn that's perfect for hosting special occasions.

Don't miss: Nature lovers can stay in the campsite attached to the back of the pub grounds. Pitch up, order a traditional hand pulled cask ale and enjoy mesmerising views over the Somerset countryside. Well behaved dogs are welcome in the pub and on the campsite too!

This article was updated by Martha Griffiths in June 2021.