The Red Lion is a 16th century Cotswold stone pub. It was purchased by the Old English Pub Company in December 1996.
From ‘The Inns and Alehouses of Chipping Campden & Broad Campden’ (reproduced with kind permission of Chipping Campden History Society).
The Red Lion was once on the upper side of the street, in Leysbourne, not its present site. It is referred to in an 1640 deed to Pretty’s House (where Leasebourne House is now). Robert Taylor then inherited “Pretty’s House in Laisborn” and “a messuage on the upper side of the street there… known as the Redde Lyon.” The name must have moved before 1659 as there are receipts for the present Red Lion of that date.
The present Red Lion buildings go back to the sixteenth century. With its red lion sign, it has flagged floors, low ceilings, a huge inglenook fireplace with stone seats and a paved yard leading behind the pub to an exit in Sheep Street. P.C. Rushden in his book ‘The History and Antiquities of Chipping Campden’ (1911) says it boasts a licensed history as old as any in the town. There are receipts for tax paid on beer going back to 1659. In 1723 it was kept by one Lodge Knight, who owned it. Later it was in the hands of the Walford family. A Mr Tomes bought The Red Lion in 1780 and sold it to George Manton in 1808, when, however, it was a private dwelling house. Not many years later it was again licensed.
In 1821 the Campden Ratebook lists The Red Lion Inn with gardens, stables and premises value £14, rates 7 shillings. Mrs Richards was the proprietor and Thomas Usher the tenant.
James Holtam was there in 1910; Mrs Ellen Bridge took over after the First World War, when The Rose & Crown closed down, while her husband John was with the army in France, and he joined her later. One of the first things the family did was to throw out the brass spittoons. There was reputedly one old man who could spit right across the bar with good aim. He presumably missed the old spittoons.
Sid Bridge, son of Ellen and John, then took over and when he was in the army in the Second World War Mrs Ellen Bridge, now a widow, ran the pub, and Sid took over again on his return and ran the pub with his wife Lillian. Mrs Sue Durrant, Sidney’s granddaughter, relates how one night Sidney and his friend Alec Cooper were in the cellar having a crafty late tipple. His wife Lily decided to call a halt to their binge. She got out of bed and went down to the cellar. Alec looked up with a shocked expression and said, “Cor, Mrs Bridge, I thought you was a bloomin’ angel!” Travellers came in summer time but were only served at the cellar door, and only for a certain length of time. One woman traveller knocked on the door after the allotted time. Sidney told Lily to go and say they weren’t serving any more. The miffed traveller said to Lily, “Mrs Bridge, you’re an old witch, but your husband’s a perfect gentleman.” Lily retold the story and laughed: “It was the perfect gentleman who sent the old witch to throw her out.”
Charlie Ladbrook, with his brother Lawrence would kill pigs and joint the for people in the yard. Mr Jack Clarke had the pub from 1968 to 1969, when it was taken over by C.L. Moule. Mr Keith Moule became the landlord in 1972 until 1990, the pub then belonging to the Bass brewery in Birmingham, who had it refurbished in the sixties. In the eighties legislation to restrict monopolies meant that the brewery sold it; fortunately the Red Lion was bought as a pub.
George Hart, the son of George Henry Hart the Guild silversmith, and well known as Jethro Larkin in The Archers, was a Red Lion regular, with his own special corner at the pub.
When Jean and Bob Wilson refurbished the pub in 1991 they found old coins, the oldest one of which dated back to 1762. They also found an old ecclesiastical stone head, which has now been fixed above the fireplace.
At the rear of The Red Lion, in the yard, the first garage in Campden was built, in wood, in 1921. Mr William Cutts, who had trained in the Rolls-Royce works, became the chauffeur at The Noel Arms driving the omnibus to the station to collect visitors. He decided Campden needed a garage and started one at The Red Lion. In his book Fred Coldicott, ‘Memories of an Old Campdonian, (1994)’, tells the story of the foreman, Mr Bates, stealing wood from Corporation houses which hew as building in Aston Road and selling it to William Cutts. Mr Bates was sent to prison.
December 1996: – Ancient inn bought: A company which recently bought a centuries-old inn in the centre of Stow-on-the-Wold has now acquired another ancient licensed property in the North Cotswolds. Shortly after it revealed it had acquired the Kings Arms, on the edge of The Square, Stow, the Old English Pub Company has announced its purchase of the 16th century Red Lion in Chipping Campden High Street. Although the sale price has not been disclosed, it is known that licensees Bob and Jean Wilson had set an asking price of £450,000.
[Note: In the 2000’s The Old English Pub Company was bought by Greene King of Bury St Edmunds]
Gloucestershire Echo, 7th October 1999 – Pair hit out after drinking session: Two men who embarked on a wrecking spree after a drinking session were ordered to pay more than £1,000 between them in fines and compensation at Cheltenham Magistrates Court. The two men, from Elm Grove, Ebrington aged 20 and 18, pleaded guilty to common assault and criminal damage. The prosecuting officer said that the pair had become abusive after being asked to leave the Red Lion Inn in Chipping Campden. The 20-year-old man tried to attack the barmaid’s boyfriend and then punched through a window. Eight other windows were smashed. When they left the 18-year-old smashed the windows of two shops – Cotswold Collections and Malvern Strollers.
Gloucestershire Echo, 11th July 2002 – No sleep until Abbey: Firefighters are going without sleep for two nights as they walk the 106 miles of the Cotswold Way. The walkers were due to set off from the Red Lion in Chipping Campden at 8.30am today and aim to finish at Bath Abbey at about 3pm on Sunday. the 10 firefighters, from Speedwell Fire Station in Bristol, hope to raise between £3,000 and £4,000 for muscular dystrophy charity Jampot set up by one of the walkers.
Owner in 1891: James Gibson (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1891: £11.13s.4d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: James Alfred Gibson (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1903: £14.6s.8d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Owners in 1996: Old English Pub Company
Owner in 2009: Greene King Inns
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1723 Lodge Knight
1821 Mrs Richards
1830 Thomas Usher
1841 William Smith
1858,1894 James Gibson
1902 James Richard Gibson
1903 James Alfred Gibson
1906,1910 James Abel Holtam
1919 Miss Minnie M. Holtam
1927,1939 John Bridge
1968-1969 Jack Clarke
1991, 1996 Bob and Jean Wilson