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Enter the dragon -. The Green Dragon, that is: a very traditional 17th-Century English village pub that lives the legend by continuing to tick all of those fabled boxes. Intriguingly, too, here is a rural pub which can also boast having had amongst its ‘regulars’ two customers whose infamous dark deeds caused public outrage, had worldwide political ramifications, and brought each of them international notoriety.
Remarkably, numbered among The Dragon’s regular customers down the years were two of the 20th Century’s most treacherously infamous international figures
A regular visitor to The Dragon during the 1930s, with a weekend home at the - albeit, publess - nearby village of Latimer, was Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi Germany’s Ambassador to London before being recalled to Berlin in 1938 to become Adolf Hitler’s Foreign Minister.
Eight years later, in 1946, von Ribbentrop was to gain the added ignominy of being the very first of the Nazi hierarchy to be hanged following the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.
Ironically, imposing Latimer House - seat of Lord Chesham before its wartime requisition - was to become a major centre for the interrogation of captured Nazi spies and senior prisoners of war and, later, ‘home’ to the National Defence College.
Unquestionably, few pubs could claim such notoriety amongst their regular clientele. But for The Dragon ‘the von Ribbentrop connection’ was to be matched - or, perhaps, even superseded? - within six years of the 2nd World War ending.
Another constant visitor to Flaunden and The Dragon would emerge as one of Britain’s worst traitors of the Century: Guy Burgess. who defected to the Soviet Union with fellow spy Donald Maclean.
The defection of double-agents Burgess and Maclean in May 1951 - a peak period of the Cold War - was triggered by a highly-placed tip-off that they were about to be exposed for passing vital intelligence to Moscow.
Burgess had always stayed at Sharlowes Farmhouse, Flaunden - where he was a close family friend - and had a habit of strolling along the lane to The Dragon for breakfast, as well as imbibing there during what are regarded as more normal pub opening hours.
On the day before the defection, then licensee Bob Burgess [no relation!] noted in passing that Guy Burgess spent much of the lunchtime in the Tap Room talking intently with a man he had never before seen.
It was only when news of the spy scandal broke days later, and their photographs stared out of every newspaper, did it dawn on him that Guy Burgess’s lunchtime visitor had been none other than Donald Maclean.
Not until years later was it revealed that they’d fled to Moscow - where both were to spend the rest of their lives - after being alerted by closely associated spy Kim Philby that they were about to be questioned by the security services.
All three conspirators were members of a group dubbed the Cambridge Spies, so-called because they’d met, and were recruited along with several others at that elite university during the 1930s - the very period when The Dragon was von Ribbentrop’s local weekend watering-hole!
 
Treacherously infamous customers of The Dragon.
Dragon History
The Green Dragon, Flaunden, Hertfordshire, HP3 0PP. Tel: 01442 832269. Website creation: Mike Barnes. Text & original photography: David Sowter. 
 
von Ribbentrop