The 400-Year-Old Pub You Didn't Know Ian McKellen Owned

As if the man could get any cooler, Sir Ian McKellen, better known for his iconic role as Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings", owns one of London's oldest bars, The Grapes. He's even been known to host the pub's quiz night on Mondays every so often when his schedule frees up, so that's the time to go! When you walk in and see the windowsill's bronze, staff-wielding wizard statue, you'll know you've come to the right place.

If you were to pop over to Narrow Street in London's Limehouse district, it would be hard to miss the dark-colored building with hanging plants, situated right on the Thames River. In the 16th century, this area played a central role in world trade under Queen Elizabeth's rule, and a cozy tavern was built along the pebbly shore in 1583 to serve the local dock workers. It wasn't until 1720 that the current pub took its place, and it's since become a beloved spot for locals to grab a frosty pint downstairs before chowing down on local fare like fish and chips in the upstairs dining hall.

One of the best parts about this historic bar is that McKellen isn't the only famous name to be associated with it throughout its centuries-old lifespan. On its website, you'll find an entry penned by the owner and accomplished actor himself that details the history behind The Grapes, listing notable writers and painters who visited and events that took place.

Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Raleigh have been to The Grapes

Besides the delightful possibility of clinking glasses at "elevenses" with Gandalf, The Grapes, much like "The Lord of the Rings" series, is chock-full of interesting lore. If you're on the pub's heated balcony overlooking the Thames, look directly below you. Sir Walter Raleigh sailed away to the New World for the third time from that very spot.

However, if London's chilly sea breeze is a bit much and you'd much rather sip on a piping hot cup of tea inside, head to the bar's back halls to discover a small library dedicated to Charles Dickens. The renowned English writer recorded his musings about The Grapes in one of his novels, describing it as a "tavern of dropsical appearance ... long settled down into a state of hale infirmity." Basically, Dickens thinks this charming old bar looked worn but sturdy. It certainly rings true today; it has stood the test of time, even against The Blitz bombing of WWII.

Ian McKellen has owned The Grapes since 2011, and its d├ęcor is reminiscent of a bygone era. Its oil paintings, library, wood paneling, and wine-colored walls might make one feel like they've stepped into a Victorian novel where time has frozen. After you've sampled the menu's tasty tapas, head to the bar for a top-up, but don't forget to take a peak behind the counter to spot the very same staff McKellen used on set as Gandalf. It's truly a Tolkien lover's dream pub.