A historic pub interior of some regional importance
Listed Status: II418 St John Street
The main interest of this pub, rebuilt in 1899 by prolific pub architects Eedle & Myers, is a tall wood and glass screen – the sort of thing that was so common in the days of compartmentalised pubs but now so very rare. An old picture on the rear wall shows how it was placed originally: it created a larger front room than today. The counter seems interwar with later panels added to the front. The bar back towards the front of the pub could be interwar but even perhaps of the 1950s. Along the top the words ‘Ales & Stout’, ‘Charrington’, and ‘Spirits’ can be made out. On the first floor is the Old Red Lion Theatre (founded 1979), so this is one of those London institutions, a theatre-pub: its little box office is located at the rear of the main bar.
Dated 1899. By Eedle and Myers for Charles Dickerson and John William North, victuallers. Four-storey of brick with polished granite on the ground floor and at the top a gablet inscribed in Arts and Crafts lettering: 'THE OLD RED LION 1415 REBVILT 1899' and below elaborate relief-decoration with 2 lions, initials ("D" & "N") and leaves.
The right hand door leads into a small bar, which used to be a private saloon, created by a wonderful and rare three-quarter-height wooden and glass panelled screen. There are seven bays from near the left hand door with deep cut glazed panels, the fifth panel being a door, and another two on the return with an odd shaped door near the bar counter. The bar counter looks inter-war with its ply panelled front – there is no bar back as such here.
The main bar accessed down the left side ‘passage’ created by the screen has another similar counter and the mirrored bar back also looks inter-war but most of the lower shelving is lost to fridges. Good lincrusta ceiling painted red is held up by a central iron column with capital painted gold. Note the brass ‘Push’ on the door to the gents.
The Old Red Lion Theatre situated on the first floor first and seating 60 opened its doors in 1979 and is now one of London's oldest and most loved Fringe theatre venues. Note the small ‘Box Office’ at the rear of the main bar – performances are either at 7.30pm or 7.30 and 9pm with matinees on Sat and Sun at 3.00pm. On the front of the pub is a Blue Plaque stating “On this site in 1791 Thomas Paine wrote part of “Rights of Man (Part Two)”.