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The Red Lion Public House Thurleigh

The Red Lion in 1960 [Z53/122/2]
The Red Lion in 1960 [Z53/122/2]

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The HER tells us [HER 5995] that the building containing the former Red Lion used to be listed but, due to extensive modernisations, was de-listed in 1997. The core of the building dates from the 17th century and is timber-framed with colour-washed roughcast render and a thatched roof. It is built in an L-shape and has a 20th century block. It has one storey with attics for north and central sections and two storeys to the south-east.

The inn is first mentioned in the countywide licensing register of 1825 [CLP13]. As it is not mentioned in the previous registers of 1822 to 1824 it seems as if this is when it was first licensed. However, this is not the first reference to the building. In 1713 John Harvey devised a cottage with a pightle (a small close) and cow pasture near the church to his wife for her life and, after her death, ordering that profits be given at Christmas to the poorest families in the village [P97/25/2/1].

The east end of 2 High Street January 2015
The east end of 2 High Street January 2015

The countywide licensing register of 1876 confirms that the Red Lion was owned by Rev Benjamin Trapp, Vicar of Thurleigh, presumably as trustee of John Harvey’s Charity. The countywide licensing register of 1891 confirms the owners as Harvey’s Charity and the pub as a free house. In 1903, however, the trustees leased the Red Lion to Bedford brewers Newland and Nash Limited [P97/25/2/2].

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/C73/124] noted that the lease was now held by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winchwho had bought Newland and Nash in 1924. The landlord (“only been here 3 months”) paid rent of £12 per annum for a tap room, a bar, a parlour, a club room, a cellar and three bedrooms. Outside were three loose boxes, a cart shed and two more loose boxes. The valuer commented: "plaster and thatched, artistic looking, roomy place". He also noted: "Does not do 18 [gallons?] a week. No spirits, does not do a bottle of whisky a week, small tobacco trade". The public house seems to have closed around 1960.

By 1965 the place was a private house. In May that year it was gutted by fire. The Bedfordshire Times reported that the owners had purchased it three years before “and worked every moment of their spare time to make it into a beautiful showpiece home. On Saturday, their task completed, a house-warming party was in progress when fire destroyed the house. Customers from the Jackal public house opposite gave all the help they could and saved much of the furniture. Several small children who were in the house were taken to safety and no one was hurt”.

The former Red Lion from the churchyard January 2015
The former Red Lion from the churchyard January 2015


  • P97/25/2/1: will of John Harvey: 1713;
  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Recognizances: 1825-1828;
  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • P97/25/2/2: counterpart lease: 1903;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
  • P97/25/2/3: payment of rent: 1907-1919;
  • P97/25/2/5: insurance policy: 1930;
  • GK297/3: conveyance from Newland and Nash to Wells and Winch: 1938;
  • Z53/122/2: photograph: 1960;
  • Z50/122/1-7: interior photographs showing construction: 1962;
  • Z1091/6/10g: three snapshots: c. 1962;
  • FSD/PC7: newspaper report of the cottage following destruction by fire: 1965;

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1825-1828: James Packwood;
1847-1876: Edward Long;
1885: James Hart;
1890-1898: John Thomas Russell;
1903: John Zanker;
1906: George Edward Philpott;
1910-1913: Jane Philpot;
1913-1921: William Asque;
1921-1925: Sidney Stratford;
1925-1926: Thomas Frederick Bond;
1926-1928: Charles Thomas Deacon;
1928-1929: Arthur Thomas Thorne;
1929-1931: Frederick Henry Phelps;
1931-1932: John Edward Herton;
1932: Henry Gardener;
1940: William H Coleman.

Closed about 1960.