Discover some historic and picturesque towns and cities within striking distance of London. Take each one as a day trip or combine two or more into a tour.

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What to look out for when you get there


The ancient East Anglian university city of Cambridge has long had a problem with drink. In 1597, they cut the number of alehouses from 80 to 30 because too much corn was going into beer. But the numbers crept up again. By 1749, there were 156 pubs for a population of less than 10,000. At that time, the licensee of The Mitre was Robert Clarke.


Chelmsford takes its name from "Ceolmaer's Ford" - a site close to the stone bridge spanning the River Chelmer between Moulsham Street and High Street. In the Domesday Book of 1086, it was "Celmeresfort". The Plough is conveniently close to the railway station. In 1917 ,it offered "hot luncheons daily" and carried out funerals "at any distance".


Leigh-on-Sea is where the great River Thames meets the wide North Sea. The Crooked Billet is distinctive in two ways. It's a 16th-century timber-framed building, and the only pub in Leigh not named after a ship. This pub's name is much more down-to-earth. A crooked billet is a bent stick - a conveniently cheap and easy pub sign for times when cash was tight.


For centuries, pilgrims have made their way to Canterbury and its magnificent cathedral. Many would have stopped at The Old Buttermarket, a former coaching inn that's stood here since the 17th century. The pub was once connected to the cathedral by a series of tunnels through which monks could escape persecution. Or was it for clandestine beer-tastings?


Nowhere on the south coast is as lively or as inviting as Brighton. Over the years it's attracted everyone from royalty to rebellious teenagers. It remains the destination of numerous motoring and cycling rallies. The Pump House recalls the days when Brighton was a health resort and they pumped tonic seawater by hand from a wooden hut on the seafront.


The Carpenters Arms at Windsor is a pub with a proletarian name in a royal town. It's been a pub ever since it was built in 1518, managing to stay in touch with royals and with commoners. It was popular with the local carpenters after whom it's named, and it was once connected to the castle via passages leading from the cellars. Were they bricked up to keep drunks out of the castle or royals out of the pub?

To avoid disappointment, please check individual pub pages for opening times before your visit.