The Red Lion is thought to date back to the 16th century. There is a reference to the Red Lyon at Westbury in 1728. The historic parish church, with its unique and recently refurbished separate spire, overlooks the pub. From Bell Lane there is an easy walk to Westbury Garden Cliff on the River Severn, where there is evidence of ancient life-forms fossilised in the rock for millions of years.
In 1891 and 1903 the Red Lion had an annual rateable value of £33.10s.0d. and was licensed as an ale house. Godsell’s Brewery of Salmon Springs, Stroud owned the Red Lion as early as 1891 and it remained in their ownership until 1928 when Godsell’s were voluntarily taken over and closed by the Stroud Brewery. During the period when the Red Lion was selling Godsell’s ales, the exterior of the pub was re-modelled and timber frames were added to the façade of the original stone building.
Closing time at the Red Lion was at 11 pm, which is perhaps surprising considering that Westbury on Severn is not a large village.
It subsequently passed into the ownership of the Stroud Brewery Company, and later became a West Country Breweries pub before becoming the property of Whitbread in the 1960’s. A West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque is still in situ.
A review in April 2007 described the Red Lion as ‘everything a traditional English pub should be, but with a superb menu which would not look amiss in a top city restaurant. Here you will find true character, nooks and crannies, real fires and beams by the dozen.’ The reviewer gave the Red Lion top marks for value for money and 9 out of 10 for atmosphere, service and food.
In March 2018 the Red Lion was taken over by Chris and Sue Light and it re-opened with a slightly revamped name, reverting to its original old English Spelling – the Lyon Inn. The pub had a complete interior makeover turning a previously unused space into a 32-seat restaurant area. Although the Lyon Inn was marketed as an upmarket ‘gastro-pub’ Chris Light said: “We have both a bar menu and an al-a-carte menu, so if you want to come in and have a burger and chips and a pint, that’s fine. Our bar menu prices are on a par with other pubs. Obviously we want to build a reputation for good dining. We live in Blaisdon and after hearing people talking about the scarcity of good food in the area we thought ‘why not’ and decided to open our own. We aim to source as much of our food locally as possible including salmon from the Severn and Wye Smokery just down the road. The reaction locally has been fantastic, and the restaurant has been fully booked every night.”
An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in April 2008 noted that ‘the menu is very much traditional pub meals cooked with top quality ingredients. No mucking around with gastropub fare here.’ Continuing with, ‘For main course we both went traditional, my colleague opting for a mixed grill while I chose sausages and mash. The portions of the mixed grill, which was good local meat well cooked, were perfect. My sausages and mash were a fine example of pure comfort food – quality sausages and a creamy mountain of mash.’
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1728 Anne Bayse (owner Maynard Colchester)
1851,1856 James Trigg (aged 59 in 1851)
1876 Charles Cornwall Packer
1885, 1906 Charles Nichols
1919 John Miles
1927 H.C. Hancocks
1939 Gertrude M. Whiting
1960’s Mr Pitheran
1992,1998 John and Liz Parry
2003, 2007 John Bolton
2009, 2010 Patrick and Joanne Cripwell
2018 Chris and Sue Light
2020 (September) Craig Collins. (Daughter Bryannah Collins – manager)