Turf Tavern


Europe, United Kingdom, Oxfordshire

The Turf Tavern (or just "The Turf") is a popular but well-hidden historic public house in central Oxford, England. Its foundations date from the 13th century and the low beamed front bar area from the 17th. It was originally called the Spotted Cow but changed its name in 1842, probably as a reaction to gambling meetings held on site. The pub is frequented mostly by university students (of both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University) and tourists. It is located down a narrow winding alley, St Helens Passage (originally Hell's passage), between Holywell Street and New College Lane, near the Bridge of Sighs. Running along one side of the pub is one of the remaining sections of the old city wall. Due to the mainly illegal activities of its original patrons the Turf sprang up in the area just outside of the city wall to escape the jurisdiction of the governing bodies of the local colleges. The Turf Tavern is also where former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a Guinness World Record for consuming a yard glass of ale in 11 seconds. Local legend has it that it was at the Turf Tavern where former U.S. president Bill Clinton, while attending Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, infamously "did not inhale". The Turf is still a frequent gathering place for the Rhodes community in Oxford as the site of Turf Tuesday every week during term.