Oxford, England

The Chequers

The Chequers is to be found down a narrow passage off the High Street. Dating from the 15th century, it was originally a private house used by a money lender. A chequer board, being the sign of money lenders from Roman times, was hung outside, and this most probably explains the pub’s name.

the Chequers pub, Oxford

the Chequers pub, Oxford

The Chequers Pub, Oxford

In 1466, the house was bought by All Souls College, and rebuilt as a tavern by Alderman Richard Kent in around 1500, when it became known as Kent’s Hall. 

An underground passageway is said to run from the pub under the High Street to the nearby Mitre Inn. Used by Catholic priests illegally celebrating mass in the reign of King Henry VII as an escape route if raided by the militia, it was eventually discovered in 1530. The passageway was then bricked up entombing the unfortunate priests caught there, and all perished. On a quiet night, the ghosts of those long dead clerics can still be heard, screaming to be released.

In the mid-1700s, the pub housed a semi-permanent zoo of fourteen animals, including a camel, an opossum and, possibly, a shark.

It’s a popular and often crowded pub, with a small exterior courtyard and split-level interior still showing some of its original medieval features. Pool and slot machine games are available for those so inclined.