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The Lion Inn Luton

The Lion Inn, Market Hill, Luton

William Austin in his 1928 book The History of Luton and its Hamlets stated, of the Red Lion on the corner of George Street and Castle Street: "One of the most ancient inns in the town; has been continually occupied since the dissolution of the monasteries. It was previously the "Brotherhood House" of the Guild of the Holy Trinity". Austin may be a little overzealous. A Lyon is recorded in 1660 when two cottages on Chippinge Hill [Market Hill] were conveyed [AD3253]. They are described as being near the Markyate [Market] House between the Cross Keys and an inn called the Lyon. The fact that the Cross Keys was on the other side of George Street to the Red Lion seems to indicate that the Lion was on that same, eastern side, rather than the west where the Red Lion stands.

The other two documents in the custody of Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service to mention the Lion are a covenant of 1638 to levy a fine by various members of the Rotherham family on property including "a messuage in Luton called the Lyon alias Brotherhood house" and a mortgage dated 1665 of the two cottages conveyed in 1660 [AD827].

The Brotherhood House was the meeting place of the Luton Gild or Brotherhood, the beautifully illuminated register (1475-1546) for which is preserved in Luton Museum at WardownPark. It was a late medieval society at which men met for social functions as well as to pray for the dead, for which purpose a chantry priest was retained. The gild was abolished in 1547 as part of the dissolution of the monasteries and reformation of the church in England by King Henry VIII (1509-1547).


  • C139: covenant to levy a fine on the Lion: 1638;
  • AD3253: conveyance of two adjoining properties: 1660;
  • AD827: mortgage of two nearby properties: 1665.