I was interested to read about the 400th anniversary of the King's Arms in Holywell, Oxford (Oxford Mail, September 14).

Most of the history of this pub was publicised by Oakwood Press in 1998 in my book, An Encyclopaedia of Oxford Pubs, Inns and Taverns, where I assume Young's Brewery got their information from - a book that is still sold on the Internet or via Blackwell's.

A priory was originally built on the site by the Augustine friars, so it is much older than claimed.

Named after James I, it was much more than a major coaching inn but a posting house in the city, one of five, the others being the Star and the Roebuck, both in Cornmarket Street, and the Mitre and the Angel, in High Street.

The Angel, the Star and the Roebuck have since been demolished.

The Angel is now the University Examination Schools, the Star, which later became the Clarendon Hotel, is now the Clarendon Centre, while the Roebuck is now shops and offices.

The famous fight in the pub, a prize-fight or cudgel (no-one knows which), was held in 1661 between H Wordley, of Thame, and the Oxford champion, Dennis White.

There were no rounds and the fight ended only when one of the fighters was either severely injured, submitted or was killed.

It is not known who won or even survived. Plays were also performed there, probably in the stable yard.

Until 1973, the small bar with its entrance in Holywell was a men-only bar.

It was said that there were more brains in there to the square yard than anywhere else in the world.

An expert of any field, from Hebrew history to nuclear physics, could be found supping a beer.

The majority of the clientele and staff were either undergraduates or higher up the academic scale.

The King's Arms can truly claim to be one of the great inns of England.

DEREK HONEY Queen Emma's Dyke Witney