“There are old pubs in Canterbury and then there are old pubs, and then there is The Parrot in Church Lane, which declares itself the oldest of them all.”
So begins writer Johnny Homer in the section on the St Radigund’s watering hole in his 2015 book Canterbury Pubs.
There is evidence, Homer says, that ale has been served at the building for at least 600 years and that sections of it date back to 1370.
Today, the pub screams history as soon as you enter. Its low ceiling, wooden beams and fixtures and great solid doors to the garden are hallmarks of its age.
But it might not have been standing today. In the late 1930s the building, known for a time as St Radigund’s Hall, was listed for demolition.
Workmen tasked with the project discovered its fascinating architectural features and it was saved.
The building was put to various purposes until it was reopened as a pub called Simple Simon’s by Mike Patten in 1987.
Simple’s, as it was known, became hugely popular with students and young people to the point that it was full to bursting on a Friday night.
Renamed The Parrot in 2008, the pub is now in the hands of Faversham brewers Shepherd Neame.
It has acquired a reputation for its food, serving everything from Kentish beef and lamb to crab and crayfish linguine.
Francis Williamson has been manager of The Parrot for six years. He said: “It’s a great pub, full of old world charm.
“And it’s a Shepherd Neame pub, Britain’s oldest brewer, so you know they understand the licensed trade inside out.”
The final say, however, belong to Johnny Homer: “Beguiled by The Parrot’s antiquity, the fancy sometimes takes me to visit the delightful rear garden and, armed with a pint naturally, admire this lovely old building from the rear as the sun sets on another day.
“It is possibly as close as you’ll come in modern day Canterbury to time travel.”