Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the eighth century public house listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the UK’s oldest, has faced down pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and refused to change its name.
Since being founded the pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire, reputed to have housed Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War, has operated under different names. It has been called Ye Old Fighting Cocks since 1872 because of its history of cockfighting, which has been banned in England and Wales in 1835.
In an open letter sent this week PETA urged the management of the pub to reconsider the link to “the violence and gore of cockfighting” and rename it Ye Olde Clever Cocks. PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi said:
“Changing the name of Britain’s oldest pub to Ye Olde Clever Cocks would reflect today’s rejection of needless violence and help celebrate chickens as the intelligent, sensitive and social animals they are.”
In the letter PETA’s Special Projects Manager, Dawn Carr suggested ‘Five Fun Chicken Facts’ that could be used by the renamed pub on coasters, one of which stated:
“Research suggests that chickens are cleverer than human toddlers. Hens have exhibited mathematical reasoning, self-control and even a capacity for structural engineering.”
The Mirror reported regular Robert Oakhill, 71, saying:
“The thing that appals me is the total lack of appreciation of history. The current name informs us about the past. It enables us to contemplate the great advances that have been made. The new name is, to use the most appropriate critical term, ‘bonkers’.”
Amazingly, despite PETA’s offer to throw a party to celebrate the name change “featuring delicious animal-free mock chicken…enough Fry’s Meat Free Chicken Style Strips to serve a full pub crowd”, the owners of the pub have confirmed “the name stays” saying:
“In all the conversations that we have both been part of and witnessed today, whether it was social media or the radio phone in that we were part of on The JVS Show… one thing has stood out and that is the overwhelming support we have from everyone in the area and we assure you that the love is mutual!”