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All Aboard! It’s The Dragon And Flagon Wagon

October 1, 2013

How do you like your history?

There was a time when I’d have replied: delivered to me in a lecture hall with some Foucauldian or Derridean overtones. But that was in the nineteen hundred and eighties, before I became busy and tired and easily bored.

These days, I’d rather nibble at history as if from a tray of hors d’oeuvres. Tasty bite-sized morsels of knowledge, served with a smile, between rounds of drinks.

Which has made Vic Norman’s historical pub tours of London the ideal vehicle for my further education.

The Dragon and Flagon business model is fairly simple. You pay Vic a tenner, meet him outside a tube station in Central London, and follow him as he leads you on an increasingly merry dance through the beguiling streets, furtive laneways, dodgy nooks, and venerable pubs of the London he so clearly loves. As he goes, he dishes out delicious little gobbets of London history. So much of the past is still etched in London’s timeworn and wonderful face, and Vic tells the stories of its stones in his own engaging, direct, and effervescent way.

One of London's dragons, as seen on a tour.

One of London’s dragons, as seen on a tour.

Most tours include six pubs. If you do all seven tours you end up visiting nearly 40 of London’s oldest, quaintest, liveliest, and most history-laden watering holes. From big old cavernous barns to diminutive hideaways, all the pubs have tales to tell and Vic will share them with you. Importantly, he has selected pubs that have a decent-to-excellent range of ales, beers, and ciders on tap. He also throws in the occasional sherry bar or gin palace for balance (or lack thereof if you’re at the fifth or sixth pub).

I confess to having done about 20 tours, which means I’ve done some more than twice. I started off trying just the one, out of curiosity. Would it be touristy? Would it be tedious? Would one be enough? No, no, and no.

Instead, Vic and his tours have crept under my skin and settled in, I believe for good or at least for as long as Vic is willing to don his jaunty striped hat and lead on. And I’m not alone. Most people seem to come back for more, as and when time, circumstances, and geography allow. Just as Vic attracts tourists looking for something different, he also plays the Pied Piper to lots of long-time London-dwellers keen to view their city through a fresh lens.

Why are Vic’s tours so addictive? A lot of it is down to Vic himself, at the risk of making him blush. And once you get the habit you make friends with other regulars and have a laugh, united by a shared and joyous pursuit. And, of course, it’s partly because of glorious London and the fact that Vic marches you right into the heart of it and celebrates it with you over a pint or two.

Just how I like my history.

Check out Vic and his Dragon and Flagon tours at and follow him on Twitter @DragonandFlagon or befriend him on facebook by searching for Dragon and Flagon. Vic does regular public tours or can whip up a private tour on request. He’s also branching out into dinner tours (four pubs and a two-course meal) and his Pub Quiz and Christmas tours are eagerly anticipated.

One Comment
  1. Oh, this sounds like a lot of fun and I love that he does several different tours too. I shall have to definitely go on one!

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