Bath’s Oldest Pub: The Saracens Head

Tucked between the quaint shops and restaurants along Broad Street is Bath’s oldest pub – the Saracen’s Head. As its name suggests the board outside the pub is adorned with a picture of what looks like an Arab or Persian or maybe even an Indian trader in days of old.

With its low ceiling and dark furniture, the pub gives out a nice rustic vibe and cosy feeling.

The low and ornate ceilings injects the space with a rustic and mysterious feel

This joint started off a hostelry before opening as Bath’s fist official pub in 1713.

In 1750, it became the night stop for the ‘London Flyer’ a 12mph stagecoach.

Is the old pub haunted? Well according to local urban legend, a member of the church next door collapsed and died in front of the pub in 1810. His spirit is believed to have made the Saracen’s Head a frequent ‘haunt’ thereafter.

A Cosy Abode for Dickens

The Saracen’s head was apparently a favourite abode for famous English author Charles Dickens who stayed in the room above the pub.

Dickens’s first novel – The Pickwick Papers, published in 1836, mentions the Saracen’s head by name. A side note of interest – the village of Pickwick, a parish under the market town of Corsham is a 20 minute drive from Bath.

The ‘Pickwick’ of The Pickwic Papers is believed to have been inspired by Moses Pickwick, a stage coach driver for the Bath-London route who lived above the ‘Hare & Hound’ pub in the village of Pickwick.

In 1927, the pub hosts a mobile library and bookshop.

The ghost of 1810 gets some company or competition (whichever it is) when another entity known as ‘Scottich Al’ makes a debut in the Saracen’s Head where he still put up an occasional performance.

The back door of the pub that lead to Walcot Street

If pub hopping isn’t your thing, a visit to the Saracen’s Head is still worth the time and effort – if not for anything, for a chance to step into and be a part of this historical joint that has witnessed and survived many challenges through time. The most recent being the Covid-19 pandemic that forced the closure of many small establishments in Bath.

Food at the Saracen’s Head is delicious, especially the dessert, and that’s another reason enough to while away a few hours here with a beer, cider or an array of beverages in hand.

Salt Beef Nachos
Steak and Ale Pie, Katsu Chicken Burger (if I recall correctly) and Salt Beef Nachos.
Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake

More on things to do in and around Bath & other places:

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