A.E. Wasserman has been a buddy of mine for several years now. She writes The Langsford Series of historical mysteries. Here is her take on checking out some of the locations that landed in her books.
Are you up for some time travel? Real time travel? Where you lose your sense of the here and now—no more sights and sounds of 2021; no more thoughts of the internet, of automobiles, or even electricity. Time travel backwards. I write historical mystery/thrillers so come with me to
one hundred forty years ago, the year 1884.
It’s a quick tour. Our destinations are good ones: Two pubs. That’s right. Where you can get a pint or two of ale, hang with the locals, and maybe a game of darts. Or you might even meetup with a couple thugs; or even a spy ring—yes—they had them even then. Not to mention terrorists.
In the first novel of The Langsford Series, 1884 No Boundaries, Langsford and his friend desperately need to intercept a couple unsavory types—after all this is a mystery/thriller series. The trail has led them to a pub in the village of Earls Colne, north of London.
Lion & Boar
This pub is an old one—centuries old. The building itself had been a Guild Hall and Cottage, an Ale House, then Pub and Hotel. What was once called the “Hunt Room” originally served as a Guildhall during the 14th century.
Back in the early 1500s the pub had been called The George. However, by the 1660s, it was known as the Blue Boar and was the definite go-to place. A few decades later, in 1678, the pub was re-dubbed The Lion.
What’s in a name? A pub is a pub is a pub, to warp a quote. It was still where people congregated, drank, laughed, cried, and/or conspired.
In 1851, though, incorporating part of its previous name, it became known as The Lion & Boar, and thus the sign read in 1884, when Langsford and his friend walked through the portal:
Excerpt from1884 No Boundaries, A Story of Espionage and International Intrigue
“The Lion and Boar was a large Tudor-era public house, its black timbers in-filled with rough plaster. It sat just past Burrows on High Street, where houses and shops lined both sides of the main thoroughfare and side streets branched off into this larger village.”
Once Langsford and Heinrich entered the establishment, they found themselves surrounded with the caramel glow of the gas wall lamps. At the bar they ordered two lagers and a pork pie apiece.
Now, I shan’t say more, or I’ll give away too much, so who knows what happens next?
In 1890, the pub’s sign reverted to simply The Lion.
Let me time-warp you back to 2021, because The Lion still exists!
Updated with everything 2021, The Lion Bar echoes the past, but is without a doubt, in step with the trends and tastes of today. Langsford would approve, and you know—I bet there’s not one spy in the place these days.
But, wait! I promised you another pub to visit: the one that Langsford frequented in London. Let us journey there next.
The Lamb Tavern in London’s Leadenhall Market.
Langsford first encountered The Lamb Tavern with his visiting German friend.
Excerpt from 1884 No Boundaries, A Story of Espionage, and International Intrigue
The two men passed a window of upside down pheasants dangling beside freshly plucked ducks. Men laughed in the open doorway of The Lamb Tavern.
“Let’s grab a tankard or two when we leave,” Heinrich suggested, peering inside.
Oh, if only they had stopped in right then, instead of waiting until later, Langsford’s friend would never have met Anna, and well, there would have been no story to tell. There would have been no angst-filled love, no trouble, no police, no spies . . . and that wouldn’t do at all. Fortunately, the pair skipped the pub that first day, Heinrich did meet Anna, and what should have been the end of the story became the catalyst for everything that followed in this novel that launched The Langsford Series.
Langsford did stop by the pub later on. Before we get to that, however, let me tell you more about The Lamp Tavern.
Not quite as old as The Lion & Boar, The Lamb Tavern was first established in 1780 at Half Moon Passage in Leadenhall Market. Back when coaches were the mode of journey, passengers would stop for bed and breakfast. Often they stayed there after booking an ocean voyage with shipping companies on nearby streets.
In 1881, all of Leadenhall Market was rebuilt in 1881, including The Lamb Tavern.
It was quite the stir when it was rebuilt, as was reported on the front page of The Illustrated London News, December 24, 1881.
Let’s go on in. Ready? In fact, we’ll just slip in along with Langsford:
. . . Langsford turned left into the pub, swallowed by the dark interior. As his eyes adjusted, he could see it was larger than the ones in the little villages he’d just visited. This one was geared to a high class of London patrons and served fine food and drink. The walls were paneled; the oak tables stood on turned legs. Langsford walked over and ordered an ale at the mahogany bar, admiring its polished carvings. Scanning the interior reflected in the beveled mirror he faced, he watched as businessmen chatted and imbibed.
We’ll leave him there in 1884, waiting for whomever he is supposed to meet while we continue with our own time travel—back to present day we go.
You see, today, in 2021, we can still enter the Lamb Tavern.
After the turn of the century, or in fact two, long after Langsford first entered The Lamb Tavern, other visitors have followed. The list of patrons includes HRH The Prince of Wales, Sir Richard Attenborough, Tom Sellick, and Jack Warner.
The Lamb Tavern has also been used for movie sets. John Wayne starred in the 1975 film Brannigan; Robert Mitchum in the 1983 Winds of War, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, and even Harry Potter was filmed walking through the door.
It’s exciting and fun, finding locations from Langsford’s era that still exist. They link us from the present back into the past, allowing us to share a part of the physical world from then, the time of The Langsford Series.
You can find out more about A.E. Wasserman and buy her books by checking out her website, www.aewasserman.com.