Turf Tavern Oxford

Discover the history and stories behind Oxford’s legendary Turf Tavern.

Exterior Turf Tavern Oxford with city walls and tower

The Turf Tavern is one of Oxford’s most famous pubs

Approached by two hidden cobbled passageways, the Turf Tavern is one of my favourite Oxford pubs. In summer, sit outside with a glass of Pimm’s in the beer garden. On a cold winter’s day, get cosy in the tiny bar with its nooks, snugs and low-beamed ceiling (tall people beware). Order a star gazy pie and a pint of London Glory cask ale and soak up the atmosphere. It’s not hard to imagine legendary Turf drinkers Ernest Hemingway and Richard Burton propping up the bar.

Sally, Editor, The Foodie Travel Guide

  • Drink London Glory Cask Ale
  • Eat pie and mash
  • Pub restaurant
  • Sit in the beer garden
  • Family-friendly

The Turf Tavern Oxford

If the walls of the Turf Tavern could talk, they’d keep you entralled for hours as you savour your pint. It’s all happened here – malt roasting, cock-fighting, gambling, prostitution and during the plague, the Medieval practice of setting cats alight and tossing them over the city wall to transfer human suffering onto animals. Reputedly, the pub has its own ghost. When her lover failed to return from the English Civil War, Old Rosie threw herself into the moat where The Turf is today. Apparently, she makes her presence felt by smashing the occasional glass.

Passage way and Union Jack Bunting Turf Tavern Oxford

The Turf Tavern is surrounded by passageways

Bar seating and table Turf pub Oxford

Get cosy in one of the pub’s nooks

A Legendary Oxford Drinking Den

In modern times, The Turf is where in 1963, the former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, entered the Guinness Book of Records for downing a yard ale in 11 seconds. It’s also alleged that during the sixties, Rhodes Scholar and ex-President of the United States, Bill Clinton, ‘did not inhale’ whilst he smoked illegal substances. The list of once pub regulars is seriously impressive – Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking, David Cameron, Ben Kingsley and Emma Watson. On the screen, The Turf has appeared in several episodes of Inspector Morse. More recently, in Endeavour. The spiral staircase featured as the entrance to the Oxford Mail offices where the editor is played by the daughter of late Morse actor, John Thaw.


  • For a unique Oxford drinking experience, visit the Turf early on May Morning when it’s packed with pub revellers
  • Try the gin produced by Warner Edwards in Northamptonshire. Their rhubarb gin is exceptional
  • Approach the pub via Bath Place or look for Oxford’s famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and walk down St. Helen’s Passage on the left


Oxford Townhouse Oxford

The Oxford Townhouse

Oxford, Oxfordshire

The Oxford Townhouse offers B&B accommodation within a 10-minute walk of Oxford city centre.

Rooms from £95 a night.

Malmaison Oxford

The Malmaison

Oxford, Oxfordshire

A stunning boutique hotel offering unique luxury accommodation in historic Oxford.

Rooms from £125 a night.

Old Bank Hotel Oxford

Old Bank Hotel

Oxford, Oxfordshire

Situated in the heart of historical Oxford, The Old Bank offers luxury rooms and a buzzy brasserie.

Rooms from £189 a night.


Dogs friendly days out for foodies in Britain

One of my favourite places to go in Oxford.

Mr Hendricks



The Turf Tavern, 4-5 Bath Pl, Oxford OX1 3SU


Find more Foodie Things to do in Oxford.