The Red Lion

on Monday, 01 February 2010. 1 Posted in Work, Leisure

We take time out to look at what was the start...

The Red Lion

From the architecture we know that the Red Lion was built c1730. The earliest record we have for the Red Lion is a lease dated 1739, when a Henry Fripp occupied the property. The property is clearly marked on the 1764 map of the Lacock estate with its accompanying survey.

Different approaches:

1) Overview

From the architecture we know that the Red Lion was built c1730. The earliest record we have for the Red Lion is a lease dated 1739, when a Henry Fripp occupied the property. The property is clearly marked on the 1764 map of the Lacock estate with its accompanying survey.red-lion-lacock-map

red-lion-lacock-docThe archives contain bills for meals at the Red Lion in 1792 and 1797. In 1817 the pub was described as being ‘commodious and in good repair’.

In the 19th century there were two main landlords of the pub, namely the Banks family followed by the Cannon family. In the early 20th century the Hopkins family took over. There are published reminiscences of life at the Red Lion by the daughter of Richard Hopkins including:

"most evenings there was a customer who drank at the bar. He used to drink ‘a fair amount!’ His pony and trap was left in the yard. Often he had to be helped into the trap, the pony was turned round, and faced up towards Bowden Hill and off they set. The pony knew where its stable was…"

The Red Lion is still in use as a public house today, but has doubled as a shop for various films and TV programmes including ‘Cranford’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’. 

2) One night/event

Red Lion, Lacock
16-17 October 1792 – a dinner and breakfasts were provided at the Red Lion by William Talbot, the owner of Lacock Abbey, for 30 people. We have the bill in the archives:

We don’t have a menu of the dinner but we know from published sources what the average ‘country gentleman’ ate:

“Breakfast, usually a light meal of tea, coffee or chocolate, with rusks or cakes, was taken at 9 or 10 o’clock and followed an hour or so later by a glass of sherry and a biscuit… by about 1780 it was not uncommon for the square and his guests to sit down to their chief meal at 3 or even 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

A contemporary of Talbot gave an elegant dinner party in 1774 which consisted of:

red-lion-lacock-doc1“a large cod, a chine of mutton, some soup, a chicken pie, puddings and roots [followed by] … pigeons and asparagus; a fillet of veal with mushrooms, roasted sweetbreads, hot lobster [followed by]… apricot tart and in the middle a pyramid of syllabubs and jellies”
 
From the bill we know that the meals cost 1 shilling and 6 pence each which is about £7 in modern money (using RPI), so roughly comparable to today’s price for a dinner at the Red Lion! The bill also mentions beer, tobacco, wine, punch and payments for service and a fire.

3) Person-based approach

John Banks
John Banks was baptised in 1786 at Bromham where he also married Betty Long in 1823. John was the eldest son of a prosperous brewer who left a will in 1824 bequeathing him £500. John and Betty moved to Lacock, which was home to many relatives, and John became the inn keeper at the Red Lion at some time between 1841 and 1851. According to a descendant, Miss Eunice Banks, John and Betty are believed to have had 10 children in total but only 8 survived. The 1851 census records only 6 of those: Ann Casey, aged 26; John Banks, aged 20; James Banks, aged 16, (blacksmith); Elizabeth, aged 15; Thomas, aged 13; and George, aged 10 - all born in Lacock; plus servants William Haldron aged 25, born in Kington St Michael, and Elizabeth Tadd, aged 16, of Lacock. John died in 1857 but did not leave a will. Betty became the inn keeper until 1871. Their eldest son John left Lacock and took over the brewery at Bromham left to him by his father’s brother James. John and Betty’s son George is recorded as the inn keeper at the Red Lion in 1871 but 1875 a Mrs Cecilia Banks is recorded as inn keeper in Kelly’s Directory, and in 1881 she has clearly remarried and is now Cecilia Cannon.

John Banks was a cousin to George Banks, the stone mason who repaired the bridge at Reybridge in 1827, receiving the following scolding from the county surveyor, Mr Peniston: “it is with considerable regret that I observe that your bills with the account of time stated to have been expended in the repairs is one of the most outrageous I have witnessed since I have been surveyor of this county” . Banks did not blot his copybook permanently however – he went on to build the Lacock workhouse in 1833, together with the carpenter John Gale.

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