Paul Jennings's The Local: A History of the English Pub tells the story of one of
England's most unique institutions. Public places where people could gather and
drink date back at least as far as the Romans, but are first thought to have become
a common sight in the Anglo-Saxon period, when people opened their homes as
alehouses. This is Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, Hertfordshire, one of
several pubs which claim to be the oldest drinking house in England. It dates
back to the 8th century.