The Covent Garden area, where the pub is situated, was known for centuries as a dangerous part of town, and the alley next to the pub was the scene of an attack on the poet John Dryden, in December 1679, by three thugs with cudgels, hired by the Earl of Rochester to kill him, after Dryden engaged a vitriolic dispute with the earl.
This is one of the most historic of London pubs, when the pub first opened its doors, around 1770, London was seen as horribly overcrowded, plagued by disease, corruption, and out of control knife crime.Back then the pub was known as the Coopers Arms, and it acquired a fierce reputation as drinking den for ruffians.
Throughout the 18th and early 19th century fights regularly broke out amongst the porters, flower sellers and street beggars that frequented the bar. It also staged bare-knuckle prize fights, and fighting would often spill over into the rowdy audience, giving the pub its nickname ‘The Bucket of Blood’.
Agnus Dei – The Lamb and Flag of God
In 1833, at the start of the Victoria era, as standards of civilisation began to improve around London, the pub changed its name to the Lamb and Flag to get away from its old blood and sawdust image. The name, Lamb and Flag, comes from the symbol of Christ as the victorious Lamb of God, Agnus Dei, in the Book of Revelation, carrying a banner emblazoned with a cross, and often wounded in the side.
Today, you don’t need to bring your cudgel to protect yourself when entering the bar. There’s no sign of roaring brawlers, instead the Lamb and Flag is a cosy, family-friendly bar where you’re not in fear of your life.
Now, this cosy bar serves tourists with a traditional English roast dinners, with lashings of gravy. on a Sunday. Every other day of the week, the Lamb and Flag offers beefburgers, fish and chips, sandwiches, salads and curries.The pub has two levels and the downstairs bar is the busy heart of the pub. Upstairs is a lot quieter. The only downside is that the downstairs bar is a bit cramped like most 18th or 19th century pubs.
What the Dickens!
Charles Dickens is believed to have been a regular customer in the bar, back in the 1830s, and today, there are many old photographs of Dickens displayed on the walls.
Dickens loved beer and often wrote about it: “No heeltaps [dregs left behind]” and he emptied his glass… with the air of a man who was used to it. – The Pickwick Papers.It looks like Dickens emptied many a glass in the Lamb and Flag, leaving no heeltaps behind.
Where to find the Lamb and Flag: 33 Rose Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9EBOpening Times: 11am-11pm Monday-Saturday, midday to 11pm SundaysFood Served: Noon-10pm Monday-Saturday, Noon-9pm Sundays