The Flask pub goes back to an era when Highgate was a small village on the outskirts of London, with the oldest part (the stable block) dating back to 1663.
And while he doesn’t haunt the pub (as far as is known) highwayman Dick Turpin is reputed to have spent some time hiding in the wine store at the Flask pub while on the run from the authorities.
Turpin (1705 – 1739) was born in north Essex and whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft. Many people think of Dick Turpin as a lone highwayman, however for the majority of his criminal career he was a member of the ‘Essex Gang’ (also known as the Gregory Gang) which had 15+ members. Turpin and his gang invaded isolated farmhouses, terrorizing and torturing the female occupants into giving up their valuables. A typical attack took place at Loughton, in Essex, where Turpin heard of an old widow woman rumoured to keep at least £700 in the house.
When the woman gamely resisted all of Turpin’s efforts to discover the money’s hiding place, he hoisted her into the open fire until she gave up her treasure. Robbing remote farmhouses was the Gang’s speciality, and it was only towards the end of his criminal career that Turpin was involved in highway robbery.
The gang became famous and Turpin was eventually captured and hung at York.
Turpin became the subject of legend after his execution, romanticised as dashing and heroic in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th centuries and in film and television of the 20th century.