A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II2 Duke of York Street
One of our most spectacular late-Victorian pub interiors, the Red Lion has a tiny trading area surrounding a central servery. Nonetheless, it would once have been four separate bars as partly evidenced by the outside doorways. The superlative etched and cut mirrors are the star attraction, creating a truly magical atmosphere. The ornamental ceilings and friezes add to the charm.
A national treasure – the Red Lion has one of the most spectacular late-Victorian pub interiors anywhere – small but beautifully formed! It is claimed there’s been a pub on the site since 1788. The present building went up in 1821 and was given a new pub front in 1871 by architect W. H. Rawlings though the fittings may be rather later. The actual trading area of the pub is tiny and surrounds a central serving area. Yet a century ago, small as it is, it would have been divided up into various separate areas – the three outside doorways are proof of that as are the names ‘public bar’ and ‘private bar’ in the door glass. The front part was probably divided up into three while the back area has always been a single space.
What makes the Red Lion so special are the superlative etched and cut mirrors lining two of the walls. They create brilliant, glittering reflections to conjure up a magical atmosphere far removed from the prosaic world of everyday life beyond the pub. The picture is completed by an ornamental ceiling and frieze in both areas. The bar counter at the front has drop-down panels for servicing beer engines in former times – you can see the remains of the keyholes. Don’t be fooled by the gantry fittings sitting on the counter top – like nearly all such features they are modern work (see how fresh the woodwork looks).