Like many pubs near Leadenhall Market, Old Tom's Bar is usually packed on a weekday evening. But if you do make it inside this cellar bar, take time to read the inscription on the walls, which tells the story of the eponymous Tom. He was a regular at the market, much beloved by the traders, and given the freedom to wander around the market as he liked.
Oh, and he was a goose.
Tom hailed from either France or Belgium, depending which account you read, and was shipped over here with several of his peers, destined for the dinner plate. But a combination of luck and tenacity meant he escaped the chop several times, and in doing so, endeared himself to the market traders, who allowed him to live out his days in the market, being fed by the patrons of the area's many pubs and taverns.
He lived until the age of 37. After his death, Tom apparently lay 'in state' in the market. What this means for a feathered biped such as a goose isn't clear (open casket? Long queue of mourners?), but he was buried on the spot where the bar stands today.
According to the excellent Black Cab London blog, the statue of a boy and a bird on the building which is now The Ned depicts Old Tom. We'd always assumed the statues tied into the street name, Poultry.
A version of Tom's epitaph, originally published in The Times after his death in 1835, has been spotted outside the pub.
Old Tom's Bar, 10-12 Leadenhall Market, EC3V 1LR
For more excellent pubs in the City of London, take a look at our pubs guide.