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The Red Lion Public House Leighton Buzzard

The Red Lion June 2008
The Red Lion June 2008

The Red Lion Public House: 1 North Street, Leighton Buzzard

The Red Lion is an old building. It was listed by the former Department of Environment as Grade II, of special interest. The building's front dates to the 18th century and is in a local bond of vitrified headers; it has an old tiled roof with a red brick cornice. The building comprises two storeys. Surprisingly the countywide Return of Licensed Premises for 1876, which noted the owner/occupier as Richard Samuel states that the public house was first licensed in 1843. Dates of first licensing in this register have been shown to be inaccurate in other instances but this seems reasonable as there are no references to the Red Lion in North Street (as opposed to the Red Lion in the High Street) before it is noted as an abuttal to another property in a letter of 1845 [BO1822].

The Red Lion was put up for sale by auction by Richard Samuel's executors in 1888 [RY300]. It is described as: "The old-established freehold and fully-licensed public-house known as "The Red Lion", situate in the heart of the Town of Leighton Buzzard, close to the Market, and in which a first-class business has been carried on by the late owner for nearly 40 years; together with a covered gateway, and a Large Yard, in which is a Brick and Slated Brew-house, Good Stabling, with Roomy Loft over; Wood Barns &c. The House, which is Brick-built and Tiled contains the following accommodation: - In Basement, Good Cellarage; on Ground Floor, Entrance Passage, bar, Tap-room, Parlour, and Kitchen; on First Floor, 4 Bed-rooms; and two Attics above. There is a capital supply of Water". By 1891 the owner was William Webster of Leighton Buzzard.

The Red Lion was again sold in 1933 [BML10/42/184] and was described as having a covered gateway on the north-west side, leading to stabling with a roomy loft over, calf pens, wood barns, brew-house and a large yard at the rear. Electric light, gas, water and mains drainage were laid on. The sale particulars have a newspaper cutting attached which reads, in part: "Rarely has so much interest been taken in a Leighton Buzzard property sale as in the one held at the Assembly Room on Tuesday. The room was packed and bidding was very brisk. Messrs Cumberland and Hopkins (Mr. H. W. Clough) first offered for sale five lots of properties. Most important of these was the old-established and fully-licensed "Red Lion Inn", North Street, one of the very few remaining free houses in the town, which was occupied by the late Mr. A. F. Webster and his father before him for the better part of half a century. The lot included in the house the bar, tap room, parlour, domestic offices, four bedrooms, two attics and good cellarage … The property was offered for sale by direction of the executors of Mr. Webster, and bidding commenced at £500 and mounting rapidly, reached £2,300 before being knocked down to Messrs. Benskin Brewery, Watford". Thus the number of free houses in the town got still smaller!

Benskins Watford Brewery was later taken over by Ind Coope. The public house was altered and extended in 1981. In 1997 new owners Pubmaster gained planning permission to demolish a rear projection and substitute a single storey replacement.


  • RY543: will of Joyce Foster devising to her kinswoman Elizabeth the cottage where William Sylls now lives in North End of Leighton Buzzard called the Plow: 1713
  • BO1822: Red Lion mentioned as abuttal mentioned in a letter: 1845;
  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • BML10/42/36: sale particulars of Plough in Woburn Street: 1871;
  • RY300: Particulars of Red Lion: 1888;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • P91/28/48: indicated as being at 1 North Street in notes compiled on Leighton Buzzard public houses: early 20th century;
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • BML10/42/184: sale particulars and newspaper cuttings describing sale: 1933;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey form: 1963  

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1853: Richard Samuel[s];
1888: William Webster;
1907: Arthur Frederick Webster;
1933: Alice Mildred Webster;
1933: Herbert Jones;
1935: Charles Henry Bull;
1936: John Albert Carlin;
1938: Thomas A. Lambert;
1939: George Victor Morton Taylor;
1944: Maurice Henry Stanley Davis;
1963: Ernest Dewing;
1965: Clifford Varley;
1977: Andrew Ramsey;
1980: Stanley Berry;
1983: Robert Evan Williams;
1992: Ian Roy Sims and Ellen Violet Sims;
1992: John Andrew Gale and Michael Anthony Naylor