A couple of weeks ago saw me embarking on my 2nd Dragon & Flagon Pub Tour; with Vic Norman, this time through my favourite area; ‘The City of London’ aka The Square Mile.
For this tour we were to meet at Chancery Lane Tube station and there it was that I discovered my first delight. I had arrived real early so decided to while away the minutes by taking a walkabout upstairs….wow!!! I couldnt believe my eyes as I turned onto the sidewalk…there before my very eyes was this amazing old building; the magnificent timber-framed façade of Staple Inn, which Vic later said was on the very perimeter of where the Great Fire of 1666 ended…well thank goodness for that!! There are a few of these fabulous building dotted about the City of London, and I for one am most grateful they were not burned to the ground; truly amazing to behold.
By 7pm the rest of the group arrived and we set off on the amazing, magical pub tour! – to visit 6 of the oldest and best Taverns in London with 1500 years of History amongst them.
Along the way we visited London’s most hidden pub, a pub that used to be a bank, erected in 1888, now a Grade I listed building where we saw a clock that stopped at 10 past the midnight on a dark and gloomy night back in the mists of time and ticks no more, a pub with a grisly connection with the past where we learned about Sweeney Todd and his nefarious dealings, ‘The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ – and Mrs Lovett’s pie shop. We followed in the footsteps of Dickens, Shakespeare and Johnson to partake of a brew at a pub rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire of London, tarried a while at the longest bar in England, tread swiftly through legal London, meandered the lanes of medieval London, visited the pub written about by Yeats and by Dickens that features in A tale of 2 Cities, then gawped and squawked (chatted) as we ended the tour at a stunning art nouveau pub that left me wide-eyed with wonder at the beauty of it all.
Along the way we passed wonders old and new, re-visited a couple of pubs we visited last tour, which was so cool as I had a chance to see them again (not being a usual Pub frequentor, these tours are a perfect excuse to pop in).
We learned about a place, where the Beadle is still the law behind the gates, about the Strawberry fayre that has it’s roots (no pun intended) in the 14th century, also mentioned in Shakespeare’s Richard III, stopped briefly to hear the history of the oldest Catholic church in England, just a stone’s throw from the noise and bustle of modern day London.
For 3.5 hours we meandered through the streets of London, stopping for a pint at premises both large and small, as we criss-crossed the city, walked above the remains of what used to be a river (now below ground), marvelled at a church that inspired the modern day tiered wedding cake, and all the while our erstwhile host and conveyer of historical snippets; Vic Norman lead the way. “Possibly yon beste Pubbe Tour in ye Worlde” – Henry VIII. Huzzah.
Tickets are £10, booked in advance.