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The Old Red Lion, Kings Langley

March 2003

 

Places

Kings Langley

 

Melanie Domb (melanied @t dsl.pipex.com) writes I live in the house known as The Old Red Lion, 84 Waterside, Kings Langley.  I believe this was originally built around 1525.  Previously known as the Red Lion Inn,  alcohol was served here until 1978. I am looking for information on the house, in particular, I would like to change the existing front door to something more in keeping with the original building.

The book Kings Langley - A Village History includes a photograph and describes the Red Lion as follows:

The Red Lion, 84, Waterside. Originally a wine tavern kept by Rose Deacon in 1633, this surviving building had a Jacobean frontage with a steep step down from the road. Beer was served direct from a downstairs cellar. The last landlord of serious tenure was Dennis Hill who took over in 1954 and remained until 1976, 3 years prior to the pub's closure.

It is a grade II listed building which is described in a 1986 Department of the Environment Report as follows:

House, sometime an inn. Late C16, S bay C17, renovated as a house and SE wing built c 1980.Timber frame with square framing exposed in N gable and rear with brick nogging, red brick casing to West front and N lean-to, plastered SE wing, and steep old red tile roofs. A 2-storeys house on roadside facing W with rear outshut as cellar on E and 2 storeys gabled extension at SE. Large external C17 chimney at S gable with one flue behind the other and tiled roof to side oven. Single-flue C18 chimney up N gable. 4 bay structure with a narrow bay at middle with long N bay with axial beam, and two S bays - the S one probably C17. Brick W front has three C19 windows to each floor and doorway to RH of lower middle window replaced by a similar 2-light flush casement window under segmental arch. 3-light casements to outer windows. Brick eaves band and wooden boxed eaves. Entrance moved to E side c.1980. Interior has exposed timbers with heavy curved braces to tie-beams and clapsed-purlin queen-strut-and-collar roof with wind braces.

You are very lucky to live in such an interesting house - and particularly lucky that the Kings Langley local library has the best local studies facilities in Dacorum, if not in Hertfordshire. It is managed in connection with the Kings Langley Local History and Museum Society - and there are notices in the library about access - as for security reasons it is not on the open shelves. I gather that the Society wrote a report on the Old Red Lion in 1978 (perhaps prior to the alterations circa 1980 to ensure that the building was not damaged by inappropriate restoration) - and a copy should be in the library.

You ask about changing the front door - and as it is a listed building you should discuss any changes with the Borough Council. In view of the D of E report (above) and the Local History Society report I suspect that the changes made in about 1980 were made with proper historical architectural advice and the style of the door (however much you may dislike it) may have been officially approved as suitable. Proper advice is essential (NOT from the local jobbing builder or do-it-yourself store) and much damage can be done to historic sites by the adding of totally inappropriate "Ye olde worlde" kitsch. For instance, in the 1980's my mother lived in a much photographed thatched cottage (at least 300 years old with exposed beams) in a Somerset Village. The next occupier added a twee thatched porch and hanging flower baskets which converted it into a gentrified mess.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.