I heard a news story about an English company that had been successful since about 1200 and filed for bankruptcy in the last ten years. I heard it reported on NPR's Morning Edition, in early spring of 2004 I believe. I'm quite good at using Google, but have been completely unable to find a reference to it. I found the story interesting since it is very unusual for such a successful enterprise to fail after 800 years. Any hints on how to find the company name would be appreciated (I'll accept a sufficient hint as an answer).

BTW, I was listening to Ithaca, NY radio station WSKG.

[Response to comments:] I'm pretty sure it was a merchant/store and not merely an inn/pub or guild. There was definitely a mention of a singular head, owner or CEO of the company. I'm pretty sure it was a family business or private enterprise, though it might have been publicly traded more recently. Perhaps it rebounded or was restructured more recently, since I can't find any news items in my searches.

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    Not what you're looking for, but I think you'll find it intesting: Kongō Gumi (a construction company) operated from 578 until 2006.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 15:02
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    Via the above link I found this list of oldest companies. Nothing stands out as what you're looking for but maybe you will see something familiar. Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 15:13
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    Two hints might be worth pursuing. First is shipbuilding. King John of England started the Royal Navy in the 1200s. The other are various pubs. While these have been around for centuries, many have gone out of business in the last ten or fifteen years due to the changing social and eating habits of people in the UK. Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 8:12
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    Could it have been a news item about one of the "worshipful companies" of the city of London?
    – Drux
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 9:13
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    If you remember the context in which you heard it on NBR, you can browse the archives and listen to candidate broadcasts. Here is Spring 2004 for Morning Edition: NPR Morning Edition <sub>(This would have been a comment instead of an answer, but I'm new to this particular Stack Exchange sub-site; usual rep limits.)</sub> Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


I think that your answer is Angel and Royal Hotel. From the history fact sheet:

Widely regarded and fondly known as the oldest surviving English Inn, the main façade of the building that stands today was built approximately 600 years ago. The site then, however, had already been an Inn for 200 years, and was built as a hostel for the chivalrous Brotherhood of the Knights Templar. It was then that the beautifully carved building caught the eye of King John (“he of Magna Carta fame”) who decided it would make a suitable location for a visit of his Royal Court in 1213.

About bankrupcy:

In May 2002, the Angel & Royal was purchased by a local consortia of business professionals whose intention it is to bring this historic and much loved property back to its former glory and to retain its wonderful character that so many have come to enjoy over the last 800 years.

  • I'm very impressed by the research; unfortunately I can't find any evidence that the "Angel & Royal Hotel" was mentioned on NPR's morning edition
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 14:02
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    @MarkC.Wallace Well listening an entire season of a radio programme would be like looking for a needle in a haystack... Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 15:39

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