Monday, September 24, 2012

Ye Olde Red Lion, Bicker

click photo to enlarge
In England in 1665 the Great Plague, the last widespread outbreak of the feared bubonic plague, began killing about 100,000 people, mainly in London, but also across the rest of the country. The same year Robert Hooke's Micrographia, a book detailing his observations through lenses and microscopes, became the first publication of the Royal Society. In the American colonies the City of New Amsterdam was incorporated in the newly named city and territory of New York. And in the small Lincolnshire village of Bicker a new public house (pub), Ye Olde Red Lion, was built by John Drury who had his name and the date carved in a small panel at the top of the central gable.

That building still stands today. It is currently coming to the end of a comprehensive refurbishment and will soon re-open after having been closed for a couple of years. In these straitened times it is heartening to find a pub that has escaped the fate of most that close for lack of custom - namely dilapidation and possibly conversion to an entirely different use. It is also good to see a pub escape the clutches of a "pubco" and be taken on by a local entrepreneur. Ye Olde Red Lion, like many village pubs, has a long history in the community, and the continuation and re-vitalisation of this venerable building is something to celebrate.

The building itself is a Grade II Listed structure described as being in the "Fen Artisan Mannerist style" i.e. the work of the kind of local builder who constructed in the current and traditional way, occasionally adding a few idiosyncratic flourishes of his own. The basic structure is brick laid in an English bond (alternating courses of headers and stretchers), rusticated quoins at the corners, gable bands, a rudimentary pinnacle on the central gable, and all covered with render. Was it always rendered? The quoins suggest probably not, but it's difficult to tell when the coating was added. The nineteenth and twentieth century additions weren't always sympathetic, but original beams and roof timbers still remain inside.

Incidentally, the "Red Lion" is one of the most common pub names in the country, coming either first or second in the two most commonly cited lists. Its origins are not fully known, but a lion is a common heraldic device appearing in the coats arms of John of Gaunt, the House of Lancaster, Scotland and many families of lesser nobility. The Bicker pub's newly hung sign shows a heraldic red lion rampant with the date 1665.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 32mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On