Belfast's most famous pub, the ornate Victorian-era Crown Bar on Great Victoria Street, has been shut down because someone forgot to renew its alcohol permit license.

The failure to renew the license, which expired in November 2012 is believed to be an administrative "oversight" reports the Irish Mirror.

“The Crown Bar has been leased to the current tenant since 2006. All statutory obligations, including the renewal of licences, rest with the tenant," said a Trust spokesman.

“We are very concerned to learn about this oversight and we encourage the tenant to seek a speedy resolution to this issue to ensure this historic building is reopened to the public as soon as possible.”

The pub, which dates back to the early 1800s, is known for its period gas lighting, stained glass windows, mosaics of tiles, and cosy wooden snugs.

The Trust restored the pub to its full Victorian glory after purchasing the property in 1978. Since then it has been a magnet for both tourists and locals and has seen world leaders like Bill Clinton walking through its doors for a pint.

“This is an unfortunate oversight by the licensee Mitchells & Butlers Leisure Limited," said Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster.

“We are aware that they took the appropriate course of action as soon as the issue came to light and have decided to close their doors until this issue is resolved.

“This is not an ideal situation as the Crown Bar is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic and historically important pubs.

“However it must operate within the law and we are confident that this important asset will be back in operation once the matter is resolved.”

A spokesperson for the Crown said: “Due to an administrative oversight the Crown will be closed temporarily until the new licence application hearing takes place on January 17.

“During the closure we’ll be taking the opportunity to carry out some staff training – at what it is our quietest time of year – and also some cleaning.

“We do apologise if this inconveniences our regulars but under the circumstances it is the right course of action for us to take.”