On the 14th of February, the iconic Wymondham pub The Green Dragon announced on Facebook that “the sun was setting on [them] for the last time”, and that they would be closing after Valentine’s Day. They declared that they “tried desperately to keep battling through” amidst the hospitality crisis, and thanked all the supportive customers and friends. They (honourably) went out on a high note with their Valentine’s Night celebrations.
As a Wymondhammer (even one who now lives seven hours away), I was very saddened to hear of this news, and briefly double-checked the Facebook posts and news sources in a vague hope that the news was the product of an overexcited journalist jumping to unconfirmed conclusions. Sadly, it seems genuine. This article is dedicated to our phenomenal culinary haven and all its iconic memories.
Growing up in Wymondham, attending the Green Dragon was a rite of passage, and after your first time, it was always the top reserved spot for any event warranting a special occasion. Last June, the Wymondham High Class of 2022 booked out the entire garden in celebration of having finished school. We paraded through the school grounds in our Leavers’ Day outfits (I dressed as Poirot), endowed our favourite teachers with the necessary thank-you cards, and then the next stop was the Green Dragon. We didn’t think otherwise; it was simply the most obvious, welcoming place to go.
I remember exactly where I was sitting: on the far end of the pub garden under the wooden terrace. Students all over our cohort were drinking, making merry, and getting ready for the night of partying ahead. My Poirot costume had lost the false moustache (it got very annoying) and was slowly morphing into a lazy 007 outfit without the bow tie, and I was too exhausted to consider going clubbing. So instead, my best friend and I (who had come to Leavers’ Day dressed as the Joker!) sat proudly drinking our cups of tea. It was one of the last times we were all together.
It was also the first – and, touch wood, only! – site where my ID was rejected. I had tried to be macho and offered to someone that their drink could be “on me” (having turned 18 a few months prior). The young guy behind the bar importantly informed me that he couldn’t accept my driver’s licence because the plastic glue at the back – from the letter in which it was delivered – was still stuck on. (If you’re wondering why that justifies a refusal, I’m with you, but at the time, I mumbled an “okay” and shuffled away.)
Another iconic memory of this pub was in late 2015 when my aunt Jane, ill with cancer, was visiting our new house. It was the last time my sister and I saw her (she was a strong presence in our early lives, as a hilarious, wacky no-nonsense Londoner with a big heart). She saw the house (much better than the “hovel” we were in before, in her words…) and then we took her to the Green Dragon afterwards. (Again, like on Leavers’ Day, the pub was the go-to finale for a celebration of any kind. Have family over, show them Wymondham, take them to the Green Dragon. It was an integral and loved part of the town.)
What we didn’t know is that the evening we took her there happened to be Trainee Chef Day!
The Green Dragon staff were admirable, as were the trainee chefs (the food was delicious!). It didn’t stop Jane from asking the waiters a series of questions that increasingly tested their patience, such as, “What did you use to cook the food? Do they know what tempura is?” She even turned to us and asked, “do you think we should offer to help?”
They responded with true professionalism, of course.
It is a tragedy that this phenomenal place has seen its last day. To everyone there, we salute you! You are all incredible. (And if any staff members are reading who were present on Trainee Chef Day, we’re very sorry!)
P.S. From the Editors: Congratulations to Freddy on being made Literature Co-Editor for The Student, the Edinburgh student newspaper!