Red Lion

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Hampshire - Southampton

Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance

Listed Status: II*

55 High Street
Southampton, City Centre
SO14 2NS

Tel: (023) 8033 3595



Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Public Transport: Near Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

The interest here is twofold. Not only is the layout largely as it was before the Second World War but, also, it exists in the rather spectacular setting of a late medieval hall-house. The site is long and narrow which in itself is suggestive of an ancient town plot. The façade consists of a ground floor re-fronted after wartime bomb damage and a half timbered upper storey which is redolent of ‘Brewers’ Tudor’ of the 1920s (but could be a faithful post-war replacement). The wonderful medieval hall is in the centre of the building. It is tall and reveals its original timber framing. The servery is located beneath what was the medieval private upper chamber. Its actual fittings may have come from another war-damaged pub although the heated (and still-functioning) foot-rail may well be older. A corridor runs down the left-hand side above which is a gallery (with 16th- or 17th-century timbering) leading to the upper chamber. At the rear of the hall is a grand Tudor stone fireplace (a less elaborate one lies behind in the dining room) whilst the gallery leads to another upper chamber (screened-off until the post-war repairs).
A remarkable late C15 and early C16 high-ceilinged interior with two galleries within a long narrow building. The façade, however, is much more recent: the Tudor-style black-and-white upper storeys with stone mullioned windows probably date from the 1920s while the ground floor was re-fronted during repairs after wartime bomb damage. The pub layout is very largely as it was before the war. The front door leads into a corridor which runs all the way down the left hand side of the building to the toilets at the rear. The front section of the corridor has floor to ceiling fielded panelling, possibly from the 1930s, and a door with the figure ‘1’ on it leads into the main bar.

The highlight and the reason for the Grade II* listing of this splendid pub is the late medieval hall-house, the hall of which (in the centre of the long building) soars through to its full height and displays its massive timber framing and is now the main bar. The very high hall which rises the whole height of the building includes two balustraded galleries probably dated from the 17th century and which can be accessed by a staircase. The room has more floor to ceiling fielded panelling at the front and up to the fireplace level at the rear.

The rear gallery had been enclosed at some stage and it was reinstated to it's original state as part of the restoration work in 1950-2. At the rear of the room is a grand early 16th century stone fireplace with moulded 4-centred arch and rounded tracery patterns in square panels in the front of the overmantel. Note the figure ‘5’ on the door to the cellar.

The bar fittings possibly came from another war-damaged pub although the heated (and still functioning) foot-rail the heating pipe around it is much older. The unusual 'letterbox' at the top of the bar back was installed by Grand Met/Watneys in the early 1970s - it displayed the details shown on the electronic till in a way that could easily be seen by the customer! The bar is called the Henry IV Court Room as it is reputed to be the 'Court room' where the intending assassins of Henry V, Lord Scrops of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey and the flatly of Cambridge were tried when Henry V was in Southampton in 1415, preparing for Horfleur and Agincourt.

At the rear is a separate Lounge, now a dining room with another early 16th century stone fireplace with moulded 4-centred arch and rounded tracery patterns in square panels in the front of the overmantel. The half timbered walls come from a post-war ‘Mock Tudor’ refurbishment. On the wall of the main bar is a photo of the last coach and four horses and a timetable implying a twice-weekly Red Rover service from the Red Lion to the Stag Brewery, Pimlico Brewery until 1952! However, the coaching era finished in the mid 19th century so presumably the photo was taken at the time of the re-opening of the pub following restoration and this was celebrated with the appearance of the coach and horses?
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