Liquid History - A Different London

Liquid History Tours

This was a wonderful way to spend 3 hours in London without feeling like you were in London

We spent our time in back streets and alleyways, where there was no traffic, no people, no noise, at 5pm on a Monday afternoon – it was awesome! We had the usual historical stories told (very well I should add) but with a twist as many of them were related to some very old and unique pubs in the City of London, so of course a few beverages were enjoyed along the way. David was our guide, and he was great. So the fun facts are always what you remember so here are a few I learned and I hope you enjoy.

The origin of “put some money in the kitty” – do you know?

So back in the day when it was not taxed, Gin was the drink of choice for the working class in London. But because it was so cheap, and drunk in such quantity, there became an issue with people functioning in society, in that they could not turn up to work, the pubs were becoming violent etc. and something had to be done. So Gin was taxed, making it not as easily affordable. So the obvious consequence of this was a black market. After the sun went down, and you were wandering the streets with a handy flask in your hip pocket, when you saw a cast figure of a cat hung on a board outside an establishment, this was a symbol that gin was available here. You would pop a coin (or two or three) into the mouth of the kitty and it would drop down a tube into the basement where the proprietor of the establishment would sit with his gin in a barrel. Depending on how many pennies you dropped as to how much gin he would pump up the pipe and as long as you had your flask under the cat’s mouth, you could catch the gin! Thus to reap the reward of a drink of gin, you had to “put some money in the kitty!”

The gardens in the Lincolns Inn Fields originally were only for the residents of the Lincolns Inn homes, however over time there was a movement that believed the public should have access to this beautiful area of green in the centre of the City of London. However once it was granted, what should happen? It was decided that this would be a great area for public executions and it became the site of hangings….which were a public spectacle every Saturday. People would arrive from all over town to drink and be merry and watch the off execution or two for entertainment, and then the drinking and celebrations would continue. The next day, the celebrations could leave you feeling a little seedy, after watching the hangings, and it was thought this was the origin of the word “hangover” to describe the way you feel the next day after one or two too many celebratory beverages.

So would I recommend Liquid History Tours as a worthwhile way to spend a few hours of your afternoon in London? Absolutely! Maybe not on the day you fly in if you are a bit jetlagged and tired, but once you have hit the ground running, a fabulous experience!


By Sarah Fenton

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