There are plenty of things that England has gotten right in the past: Shakespeare, cricket, scones... but nothing that has been perfected quite like the British pub. Pair that with London's diverse history and you've got yourself the ultimate combo.

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In the spirit of this, we've picked out ten of London's oldest pubs that are steeped in all the mystery and history the past brings with it. Some are tales of blood and horror, others of scientific discovery and hope, while a few are soaked in literary splendour. Take a look!

10 The Star Tavern

The Star Tavern, nestled in the leafy streets of Belgravia, has seen its fair share of showbiz and criminal clientele, with the likes of Princess Margaret and wartime criminal and spy Eddie Chapman crossing its threshold.

If you go there, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting the upstairs bar, where the Great Train Robbery of 1963 was reputably planned by a notorious gang of thieves. This was the heist that saw the hijacking of a Buckinghamshire-bound mail train and the loss of £2.6 million.

9 The Dove

This quirky pub sits squashed between two London houses on the river banks of Hammersmith. The Dove bore witness to several of Charles II and Nell Gwyn’s romantic (but secret) trysts during the Restoration period, and this isn’t the only historical event to have taken place here.

While prolific poet and writer William Morris lived next door to this famous watering hole, it was also visited from further afar by the literary likes of Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and Dylan Thomas. You know the saying, if walls could talk...

8 The Lamb and Flag

This traditional Georgian pub sits slap-bang in Covent Garden and was most famously a popular drinking spot for Charles Dickens. But to understand what makes this joint so fascinating, we have to rewind at least 200 years into the past, to when it was frequented by John Dryden - one of the greatest poets of the 17th century.

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At least, we’re supposing that was until he was the alleged victim of an attempted murder nearby. But don’t be put off from paying a visit. There’s a much friendlier vibe today, and you can always visit the upstairs area - now named after him.

7 The Old Bank of England

This pub, located on Fleet Street, has one of the most lavish interiors in London - but that’s not the only reason this public house is a must-see. Previously (you guessed it) a bank, this establishment’s walls are steeped in rich history - and we don’t just mean metaphorically.

Underneath its floorboards lies vaults that were once used to store gold bullion. They say the vaults were even used as a hiding place for the Crown jewels during the Blitz - though this nugget’s up for debate.

6 The Seven Stars

Over 400 years old, the Seven Stars is one of the few buildings that managed to survive the Great Fire of London unscathed. The fire rampaged through the city in 1666 when a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane caught fire - not that you’d tell by looking at it now.

Located behind the Royal Courts of Justice, it’s now rather fancy, frequented by barristers who use it to either celebrate their successes or drown their sorrows after a case has... gone down in flames (sorry, we had to).

5 The Crown Tavern

The Crown Tavern’s past is obscured in mystery. It was definitely once a concert hall in Victorian England.

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The pub is also said to be the exact location where Lenin (who lived in Clerkenwell at the time) and Stalin first met and conferred in 1905, before the Revolution whisked him off to Russia.

4 The Viaduct

Said to be haunted, the Viaduct is the last surviving gin palace of Victorian London. Built in 1886 in front of Newgate prison, the beer cellars are supposedly the former cells of the prison. Staff will occasionally show customers around if it’s quiet.

The famous gins on offer are named after real-life prisoners who were locked up in the prison. While there may be no ghosts, there is a definite ominous feel to the place, probably because of its dark history.

3 The Spaniard’s inn

The Spaniard’s inn is perched in a prime location on the edge of London’s leafy Hampstead Heath with an epic tale to boot. To stop a group of rioters ransacking Kenwood House in 1780 during widespread protests, pub landlord Giles Thomas offered everyone free booze as they stormed past - effectively derailing their plot before slyly sending for a convoy of soldiers.

You’ll have to pay now, but the place is well worth a visit. With uneven floorboards and a medieval-looking exterior, it’s the stuff of fairy tales.

2 The White Hart

The White Hart, located in Whitechapel, stands out with a gruesome and bloody past. Infamous killer Jack the Ripper was never officially identified, but the police did have a number of suspects they questioned. Of particular interest was Severin Klosowski, a surgeon of Polish descent. Our two stories align, given that he worked in the White Hart’s basement - coincidentally back then used a barber shop.

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Martha Tabram, Jack’s first victim, was found dead a few streets away from the pub after enjoying a final tipple there just hours before. Had Tabram sparked Klosowski's fancy, leading him to follow her down a dark alleyway? Impossible to say, but anyone can visit the White Hart and mull over the mystery with a pint.

1 The John Snow

No, it’s not a typo and it’s not a beloved Game of Thrones character, but a real life hero. This pub was named after physician John Snow in the 1800s, who traced an outbreak of cholera to tainted water from a Broad Street water pump.

He realised this after (pretty astutely) observing that the local brewery workers were fit and healthy. This was because they never touched a drop of that water: they indulged in their daily allowance of beer. Science.

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