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The Red Lion Public House Milton Bryan

The Red Lion Public House: South End, Milton Bryan

The Red Lion about 1960 [WB/Flow/4/5/MB/RL2]
The Red Lion about 1960 [WB/Flow/4/5/MB/RL2]

The first mention of the Red Lion is first mentioned in a document in Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is in a settlement of the Inglis estate of 1785 [X21/600]; the Inglis family were Lords of the Manor of Milton Bryan. The building, however, is older than this. It was listed by the Ministry of Works in 1961 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing dates the building from the 17th century, noting that it was reworked and extended in the mid 19th century. The building stands on a plinth built up from courses of ironstone. The earliest structure, bordering the road, is red brick with vitrified headers in a chequerwork pattern on the ground floor and forming diamond patterns on the first floor. The 19th century extension is red brick. The building has clay tiled roofs and is built in a T-plan with two storeys

In 1823 the publican Thomas Paxton died. He was related to Joseph Paxton, designer of the Crystal Palace and interestingly, at the time of Thomas's death most of his estate was noted as credits for beer sold to men labouring on the new fish ponds at Battlesden House - Joseph's first public commission. Thomas was an old man who had married a young Irish woman, a cook at Milton Bryan Manor, who appeared to be carrying on an affair with one Pilpot or Philpot, a carpenter who was in debt to Thomas. Thomas Paxton ran a small drapery business as well as the Red Lion and after his death Philpot took both over and made a failure of them. Some years later, one of Thomas Paxton's daughters unsuccessfully pressed for money she claimed had been left by Thomas' estate which was, in fact, insolvent from shortly after the time of his death [HN10/273/Paxton5-7].

The countywide licensing register of 1876 gives the owner of the Red Lion as Mary Ann Thornton of Clapham but by the time of the 1891 register it was Lady of the Manor Miss Henrietta Synott. The countywide register of 1903 states that the pub was clean and in good repair, it was two miles from the nearest licensed premises and had one front door, one side door and one door leading from the outside to the kitchen. In 1906 Miss Synott sold Milton Bryan Manor to the Duke of Bedford and the Red Lion was included in the sale of the manorial estate.

Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited were leasing the property from the Duke of Bedford in 1924 and this lease passed to J. W. Green Limited of Luton when that firm bought Morris out in 1927. Green merged with Flowers Breweries in 1954 and took that company's name. Flowers were then bought by Whitbread in 1962. Whitbread sold its brewing concerns and public houses in 2001. The Red Lion was then bought by Greene King but at the time of writing [2013] it is a free house in the same ownership as The Crown at Northill.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Red Lion [DV1/C261/30] noted that it consisted of a bar, a tap room, a smoke room, a tea room, a kitchen, a scullery and a dairy downstairs, with a cellar beneath. Upstairs were four bedrooms and outside were a coachhouse, a stable and a barn. The beer consisted of two eighteen gallon barrels on tap, two on pull and a further nine gallon barrel on tap. In a week the house sold just over half a barrel of mild, four and a half gallons of bitter and an eighth of a gallon of spirits, however, the valuer noted "Got trade from Mr.L[each] who was very doubtful about the figures. If necessary verify". Rent was £35 per annum, which was high in comparison with other public houses in the district.

The Red Lion February 2012
The Red Lion February 2012


  • X21/600: settlement of the Inglis Estate: 1785;
  • QSR1856/4/5/5,6,19: Red Lion used by the police to store stolen property: 1856;
  • PSW3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • HN10/273/Paxton5-7: notes on Thomas Paxton (d.1826): c.1886
  • WB/M4/1/MB/RL1: lease from Duke of Bedford to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1924;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1926;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP11: assignment of leases from Morris & Company (Ampthill) limited to J. W. Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/2: payments by J. W. Green Limited to landlords: 1927-1953
  • WB/Green/6/4/1: J. W. Green Limited trade analysis ledger for various properties: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: Certificate of title of J. W. Green Limited to various properties: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of properties of J. W. Green Limited, tenant: T. W. Mead: c.1936;
  • WB/Green4/2/9: Schedule of deeds of properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1949;
  • PSW3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1949-1953
  • Z549/107: photograph: 1952
  • WB/Green4/2/16: list pf properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: lists of properties owned by J. W.Green Limited: 1954;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1962;
  • WB/Flow4/5/MB/RL1-2: photographs taken for Flowers Limited: 1960s;
  • Z678/35: transparency showing the Red Lion: 1966;
  • Z1309/1/19: drawing of the Red Lion: 1980.

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:

1785: John Smith;
1822: Thomas Foxton [Paxton] (died 1823);
1823: Eleanor Paxton;
1824-1828 Richard Burrows - (died 1841);
1847: Mrs.Elizabeth Burrows;
1850-1900: William Burrows;
1900-1901: Harriett Burrows;
1901-1906: John Mole Cowell;
1906-1907: John Parnell;
1907-1914: Mrs.Louisa Parnell;
1914-1914: Charles John Kilby;
1924: Walter Blois Whitbread;
1924-1927: Thomas James Leach;
1927-1947: Lancelot Harry Horton;
1947-1950: Christina Horton;
1950-1953: Thomas William Mead.