The Red Lion Sittingbourne

The Red Lion, it is said, has been the sign of an inn on one and the same spot for over six hundred years. It is here, that in November, 1415, king Henry V was entertained on his return from the battle of Agincourt by Squire Northwode, of Milton. Seven years later, on the 3rd, October, this inn and the other inns in Sittingbourne, were crowded with travellers who were sadly doing honour to the same great King; Henry V having died at Vincennes, his remains were brought from France to Westminster Abbey. The sad procession was headed by King James I of Scotland and Queen Catherine of Valois, Henry's widow.

Other visitors include King Henry VII in 1492, Cardinal Wolsey wrote from here in 1514, Cardinal Campeggie in 1518, Deputed by the Pope to preside at the trial of Queen Catherine and In May, 1522, Henry VIII and the Emperor Charles V.

Ten years later, Henery VIII was here again. In his Privvy Purse expenses it is mentioned that on the 19th November 1532 there was paid "to the wife of the Lion in Sittingbourne, by way of a reward iiiis viiid" - Four shillings and eight pence, if you are wondering!

In 1562 the "Lyon" was the property of Sir William Garrett Knight, a Sittingbourne man, who had been the Lord Mayor of London in 1555. In the sixteenth century Kings and Emperors were the usual guests of the "Red Lion". The landlord at the time sniffed at Princes and Archbishops, and turned away such riff-raff as Dukes and Earls. By 1610 however, we find an untitled traveller recieved at the Red Lion called Herr Zinzerling from Germany. He found the landlord of the Red Lion to be a scottish man who new Latin and on this common ground of good fellowship they drunk to one another and quoted the classics until drink tied their tongues and deposited their bodies under the table.

Within a few years of 1835 the celebrated hotel was divided into private dwellings after being a house given to public hospitality for more than 400 years. Before the year 1841 the western and central portions had become private dwellings with the eastern portion left to carry on the time honoured sign of the Lion as an inn.

Incidentally, when Henry V stayed at the Lion, the whole reckoning came to only 9s 9d., wine then being a penny a pint. You can ask the present encumbent but don't hold your breath!

The Red Lion, 58 High Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 4PB

Tel: 01795 472 706 | Email: laura.redlionsittingbourne@hotmail.co.uk