The Lamb and Flag is the Oldest Pub in Covent Garden:
There are many pubs in Covent Garden, but none as old and historic as the Lamb and Flag. Tucked away in Rose Street, away from the main drag, the Lamb and Flag is a Covent Garden institution. This historic London pub was first licensed in 1623, making it the oldest pub in Covent Garden, and perhaps one of the oldest in London as well.
The Bucket of Blood
The Lamb and Flag was once insalubriously known as the Bucket of Blood because of the bare-fist prize fights that used to be staged in the outside courtyard. In Rose Alley, at the side of the pub, a noticeboard proclaims that the immortal Charles Dickens and his friends were often at the Lamb and Flag, as was Samuel Butler and “the wits and gallants of the restoration”.
In 1679, the poet John Dryden was attacked by hired thugs in Rose Alley and was nearly killed. As suggested by the noticeboard, it was Louise de Kéroualle, mistress of Charles II, who ordered the mugging, but it could well have been any of the people that Drysden had offended through his writing – and he was known to have offended a few.
The upstairs bar is called the Dryden Room, most certainly in honour of the man, rather than of his beating. When the ground floor bars gets too crowded this is a good place to escape to.
Old World Charm
The brick front and upper floors of the Lamb and Flag look newish and are 19th century but the core of the building is from the late 17th century. The low beams, wooden panelling and age of the downstairs rooms give a feeling of cosiness and old-world charm. There’s a fireplace in the back bar area.
If you have a predilection for whiskies, the Lamb and Flag is for you. The pub is well known for its selection of whiskies which range from house brands like Grouse, Teachers and Bells to single malt Scotches like Glenlivet and Glenmorangie. The Lamb and Flag serves the traditional pub food and on Sundays they do a Sunday roast and there’s live jazz music.
The Lamb and Flag is popular with office and shop workers and tourists wanting to experience London’s historic pubs. It fills up in the evenings and can get quite busy. In the summer, drinkers spill out into the courtyard. Thankfully, the only fight that you’ll see today is one of drinkers trying to get to the busy bar. The trick is to get there before the rush hour.
33 Rose Street,
Tel: 0872 148 2323
Map of Covent Garden: