Britain's Oldest Buildings
With some buildings in Great Britain dating as far back as the Bronze and Iron ages, it was not hard to find old buildings for this article.
However, I didn't want to bore you with unrecognisable ancient relics and ruins, so I chose instead buildings which are still in their entirety, some of which are still being used for the purpose in which they were originally intended.
Most of the buildings shown in this article are only reputed to be the oldest of their type, as several buildings across Great Britian vie for the honour of being the oldest in their genre.
All of the buildings shown here were built between the timelines of Ancient Britain ( Bronze Age / Iron Age ) through the Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman and Plantaganet eras of Britain.
A timeline of between 2700 BC until the 12th century.
Notice how most of the oldest buildings around Britian are centred on and around it's coast, obviously the first built settlements of it's many invading forces.
MOUSA BROCH, ISLE OF MOUSA, SHETLANDS.
( Image courtesy of otter, wikimedia commons)
A broch is a drystone ( without mortar) built ediface which dates back to pre - Roman times found in and around Scotland.
These tower like structures had hollow interiors,a roof and an entrance opening.
Archaeologists are not really sure who built them or for what reason, but they are definately Britian's oldest, extant structures, possibly dating to before the 1st century and most probably built by ancient Britons.
This particular broch is Britain's finest example, situated on the Isle of Mousa in the Shetland Islands, Britain's most northerly island group.
This uninhabited island is a special protection area for the storm petrel, a pelagic seabird, that lives entirely on the wing, only coming onto land for breeding.
( image courtesy of Hans Musil, wikimedia commons)
Britain's oldest cathedral is reputed to be this fine example at Canterbury in Kent.
The building you see dates back to 1070, although there is evidence of it's foundations and a previous building dating back to 597 BC.
With many additions through the ages, Canterbury Cathedral is now a World Heritage Site along with many other ancient buildings in the city.
NORWICH CASTLE, NORWICH, NORFOLK.
( image courtesy of bluemoose, wikimedia commons)
Although there is evidence of many Roman castle sites in the UK, this castle at Norwich ( pronounced norich) in Norfolk is the oldest fully intact castle.
Originally a motte and bailey, timber structure dating from 1067, the castle built by William the Conqueror has seen many restorative additions down the ages.
ST PETER OF THE WALL, ESSEX.
The church of St Peter On the Wall in Essex, is a 7th century Saxon, Celtic church built between 660 and 662 for St Cedd, a Northumbrian monk and bishop who was born in 620.
Reputed to be the oldest church in Britain, it is still in use as a house of worship today.
OLD BELL HOTEL, MALMESBURY, WILTSHIRE.
The stone built Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, Wiltshire is apparantly Britain's oldest purpose built hotel and dates back to 1220.
Built along side Malmesbury Abbey, it was apparantly built in order to house visiting pilgrims to the abbey during the 12th century.
The hotel is still in use as a hotel today and is situated in the beautiful area known as the Cotswolds.
THE JEW'S HOUSE, LINCOLN, LINCOLNSHIRE.
There are many old houses in Britain which grace it's many towns and villages, with some ancient examples dating back to Saxon times.
However the building that has the distinguished honour of being Britain's oldest fully intact house, goes to the Jews House on Steep Hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, which dates back to the 12th century, and is still in use today, although it is a commercial restaurant rather than a place of residence.
When originally built, the house would have housed animals on it's lower floor and been used by the family on it's upper floor.
Called the Jews House as there was a thriving Jewish community in medeival Lincoln, of which this house was first owned.
PHAROS LIGHTHOUSE, DOVER, KENT.
( Image courtesy of Chris McKenna, wikimedia commons)
Britain's oldest lighthouse was built by the Romans between 50 and 80 BC, and is situated on the grounds of Dover Castle in Kent.
When this lighthouse was built it was known as a pharos, and is possibly Britain's first example ( apparantly it was one of a pair ), although it was most probably built as a beacon to light the way into the old port of Dover, rather than a warning of impending land ahoy.
YE OLDE FIGHTING COCK, ST ALBANS, HERTFORDSHIRE.
There are a myriad of old pubs in and around Britain, with three examples reputedly being the oldest in Britain .
I have chosen the octagonal, free standing, timber framed, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, situated in St Albans,Hertfordshire as the oldest pub for this article.
The foundations of this building date back to around 793 and it's original timber structure which is still in evidence dates from the 11th century.
Apparantly first built as a roundhouse or pigeon house in the grounds of St Albans Abbey, it would appear it was not used as a public house until the 17th or 18th century, as it's name refers to the sport of cock fighting, a regular past time of that era.
CHESTER ROWS, CHESTER.
Britain is home to 8 Heritage cities and 14 Roman walled cities, the finest example of both being the city of Chester, the county town of Cheshire.
And it is here in this ancient city that you can see Britain's oldest shop, known as the Three Old Arches.
Situated on Bridge Street, it is part of the Chester Rows, the site of some of Britain's finest examples of Tudor buildings still in use today.
This particular building was built around 1274, with the ground level originally used as a dwelling for animals, the middle level as a shop and the top layer as a family dwelling.
It's three levels today are shops on it's first two levels and office space on the top level.
PITSTONE MILL, PITSTONE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.
( Image courtesy of MykReeve, wikimedia commons)
Britain's oldest windmill is that of Pitstone Windmill, a type of mill known as a post mill, situated in the village of the same name in Buckinghamshire.
Originally built in 1627 to grind grain into flour from local farms in the area, the mill today is owned and managed by The National Trust who maintain the building and organise tours for the public during the Summer months.
OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT BRITISH BUILDINGS BYTHE SAME AUTHOR;
© D.B.Bellamy.August 2010.