With a history dating back to 1242, the Bear Inn is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford. After several relocations, its current incarnation has lived at the corner of Alfred and Blue Boar streets since the 17th century. While it may look like any other cozy pub from the street, a simple step inside reveals what truly makes the space special: a collection of more than 4,500 snipped neckties from around the world.
In the 1950s, the pub’s landlord, Alan Course began a tradition of clipping the neckties of patrons in exchange for half a pint of beer. Originally pinned to the walls, the ties were later displayed in glass cases on the walls and ceilings. In order to qualify for the exchange, each tie had to come from a particular club, team, school, or branch of the military or police from around the world. Since each piece comes with a label that includes its origin and owner’s signature, visitors can peruse the thousands of patterns and colors, locating ties from Princeton University in New Jersey, the New Tredegar Rugby Football Club in Wales, and of course many varied Oxford University clubs.
While the surrounding snippets may inspire you to start loosening your own necktie in exchange for a pint, the tradition of tie-for-a-beer is no longer practiced.
Know Before You Go
Be sure to order the bangers and mash.