The Oldest Sweet Shop in England, as the name rightfully suggests, is the oldest candy store in England. It’s a bold claim, but also a modest one, as the Oldest Sweet Shop in England is, in fact, the oldest candy store in the world, as recognized by Guinness World Records.
The shop is located in the small but historic market town of Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire, in a building that began life as an apothecary in the early 1600s. The sweet shop itself opened in 1827, and many of the original fittings remain: the vintage wooden counter, the oil lamps, the antique measuring scales, and the old cash register.
And then, of course, there are the sweets. Rows upon rows of glass confectioner’s jars line the shelves, each filled with colorful candies that recent generations may not recognize at all.
Most of the offerings are traditional sweets, some of which are now hard to find in modern stores. Among the traditional classics are humbugs, aniseed balls, pear drops, and lemon bon bons, as well as plenty of chocolate and fudge. More recent “retro sweets” include popping candy, Parma Violets, kola cubes, and Sherbet Fountains.
Licorice—or liquorice, for all the Brits out there—is also sold in various shapes and sizes. For a proper local classic, buy a quarter-pound bag of Pontefract cakes: small, roughly-circular black sweets made of licorice that have been manufactured for centuries in Pontefract, about a one-hour drive to the southeast of Pateley Bridge.
For the last 20 years, the Oldest Sweet Shop in England has been run by Keith Tordoff, a former detective. In December 2019, however, Tordoff announced that he’d be running for election as the county’s next police, fire, and crime commissioner. And with that came another major announcement: the Oldest Sweet Shop in England was now up for sale.
The price? A fairly reasonable £399,000 (about $520,000), especially for a piece of history. At time of writing, it appears that no one has yet purchased the business. So if you ever dreamed of owning the oldest candy store in the world, now’s your chance.
Know Before You Go
The shop's hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.