Sort file:- Hythe, October, 2022.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 02 October, 2022.


Earliest 1604-

Red Lion

Open 2020+

Market Street


01303 263900

 Red Lion

Above photos 1895, kindly sent by Peter Chamberlain.

Red Lion

Above photo, date unknown.

Red Lion 1911

Above postcard, circa 1911, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Red Lion 1961

Above photo 1961.

Red Lion

Photos date unknown from by John Law.

Red Lion sign 1991

Red Lion sign March 1991 with thanks from Brian Curtis

Red Lion card 1951Red Lion card 1951

Above aluminium card issued June 1951. Sign series 3 number 49.

Red Lion 2014

Above photo 2014.


I have only just started to research into this area of Kent and I am hoping to be able to update this page with further information later.


The following passage kindly compiled by Peter Chamberlain from the history section of the Hythe library.

The Red Lion Hotel, Hythe

The Name

Most details of the Inn, now known as the "Red Lion," have changed over the years. The site on which it stands was once known as Market Square and sometimes the address was given as No. 1 Dymchurch Road. The change from Market Square to Red Lion Square took place about 1914.

The Inn itself changed name – and not only in recent years. It is possible that an inn or hotel stood on or near this site from 1622, named the "Market Hotel."

In 1695 the inn was called “The Three Mariners”, and this remained until 1723, 1754 or even 1800 – depending upon which documents you read. One original train of thought was that the original owner (who named the Inn “The Three Mariners”) moved from the premises and took the name with him to the Inn in Windmill Street which now bears the name. Further investigation has denied this as, at one time, both establishment were trading under the same name.

The names have their own histories;

The "Three Mariners" started as a folk tale from the 17th/18th Century but before the story, consider the Inn Sign…. which depicts ONE mariner – usually with outstretched arms. The story goes that three mariners were either shipwrecked on a remote island or cast adrift in a boat or otherwise thrust into a situation where three seafaring persons were in close proximity and starving. Well, push came to shove and, gory details aside, only one of them survived. This mariner, when rescued, tried to convince his rescuers and, more to the point, his employers that he was worth three times his wages as he had er… assimilated.. two other mariners. This explains the outstretched arms of the remaining mariner – do you know any fishermen?

The tale is told (and may even have been created) by W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) in his “Bab Ballads” as “The Yarn of the Nancy Bell” where the rescued mariner describes himself as …a cook and a captain bold and the mate of the Nancy brig; and a bo'sun tight and a midshipmite and the crew of the captain's gig”. Somewhat more than three, but the storyline is the same, though rather more graphic.

“The Red Lion” is the most common pub or inn name in Great Britain. As it originally dates back to the 14th century, the derivation of any particular pub's name cannot be certain unless the date at which the name was first used can be ascertained. In the case of the Hythe "Red Lion," the dates when it changed from the "Three Mariners" to the "Red Lion" (1723 – 1800) preclude the best known origins – that of the badge of John of Gaunt in the 14th century, and that James 1st (of England) who, in the 17th century, decreed that every public building should show the sign of the "Red Lion" (of Scotland). Surely, in this case, all pubs and inns would have been called the "Red Lion" – or, more confusingly, have displayed the "Red Lion" but still have been called their old name; thus bringing about “The Stoat and Anvil at the sign of the Red Lion” for example…

The best bet about the Hythe "Red Lion's" name is that the landlord or owner wanted to curry favour with the local landowner of the time who, being probably at least partly English, would have had a "Red Lion" as part of his Coat of Arms. An alternative would be that the landlord at the time was particularly unimaginative. A possibly more than believable speculation that, following the end of James 1st's reign there were a great number of signs and paraphernalia showing "Red Lions" – one of which would look very nice above the front door of an Inn which shared a name with another…..


Dates in the Red Lion's History:-

1604 Possibly a Market Hotel on Market Square – actual site not known.

1622 First mention of owner – Robert Finch

1623 owner Clement Harding

1624,25 owner Robert Harding

The following names were either the owner or licensee

1626 Robert Boys

1633 William Fanning

1637 John Brett

1639 James Fordred

1643 Janet Munro

1645 Thomas Newman

1695 First mention of The Three Mariners

1707 Valentine Therbane

1708 William Monger

Bought by Thomas Slodden – beer brewer – for 70

1754 Will of Nicolas Binfield mentions “Three Mariners”

1772 Edmund Harrison

1775 John Gibbs

1779 Alan Colyer

1791 Richard Friend –  was he one of the Friend family who ran the Brewery opposite?

1796 Edward Hammond

1800 James Elvey

From this date the names are probably those of licensees /landlords as the inn was apparently part of the brewery estate which was sold by John Friend to Henry and William Mackeson in 1800.

BUT – neither the "Three Mariners" nor the "Red Lion" is mentioned in the Indenture regarding the sale. (Copy in Hythe Library)


Dates in the Red Lion's History: cont.

1801 James Watts

From 1805 to 1830, the Coroner's court was held at the "Red Lion" (see later)

1817 Ed. Watts

1821 “Red Lion Hythe valued at 1,300” – by comparison, the "King's Head" was valued at 1,000 and the "Duke's Head" at 1,200.

1827 Abraham Chapple

1828/9 Ed. Watts

1832-47 Thos. King

1836 The "Red Lion" was the at centre of the Hythe cattle market. “The ordinary of the "Red Lion" was attended by up to fifty buyers and sellers of stock whereupon, “appropriate toasts were drunk”

(The “ordinary” was a public room where travellers and visitors would take the meal of the day – no choice, but usually at least two courses, the meal was also called “the ordinary”

1852 William King

1855/58 Thomas King

1859 James Smith

1862/82 Vince Gardner

1862 The Folkestone Artillery Band and the Hythe Volunteer Band played through the town between 7 and 8 pm then proceeded to the "Red Lion Inn" “where a few hours were spent in harmony and conviviality”.

1887 Mrs Elizabeth Perry

1896 The "Red Lion" was the HQ of the Hythe Cycling Club

1891-1916 Joseph Boorman


Dates in the Red Lion's History: cont.

1918/19 James Armour In 1918 Mrs E. Armour was fined 10/- for failing to subdue lights

1920 The Mackeson Company – and hence the "Red Lion" – acquired by H & G Simonds – brewers of Reading

1921 A. E. Solly

1929 Audit recorded rent as 70, and Rates as 30. Stock for the year consisted of 246 barrels, 2818 bottles (pints and half pints, 317 crates, 135 gallons of wine and 193 gallons of spirits.

The brewery owners, Simonds, sold their share capital to Jude Hanbury. Some of the purchase price supplied by Whitbreads.

1934 Brewery and tied houses sold to Whitbread Fremlins

1968 Brewing ceased at the old Mackeson's Brewery opposite the Inn.

1973 The current building was listed Grade II

2000 Sept. Re-opened as “The Watersedge” with particularly inept sign of a canal barge – none of which had ever been seen on the Hythe Military Canal.

2005 July Re-opened as the "Red Lion" by Jim and Julia Brown.

2007 Nov. Jim Brown left blaming the smoking ban which he said in a newspaper feature had reduced takings by 40%.

2008 to Date


The Building:-

Going back to the name change discussion, David Harper, in his book “The Inn behind the Sign” about the Whitbread Inn Sign collection, prefers the later date of 1801 when he says that “this house, then named the "Three Mariners," plus cottage and stables, were included in the assets sold”. This sale was that of John Friend's brewery to Henry and William Mackeson. “The purchase price was 700 – 28 time the annual rent of 25. At this time the insurance covered “a pub and stables”. In 1821, on the death of William Mackeson, a valuation of the estate includes “the hotel”. This would coincide with the completion of the current building. The “Listed Building” details call the building “early 19th century”.

In 1891 the Sandgate tram line was extended from the Seabrook Hotel (now the Hotel Imperial) to Red Lion Square which, no doubt, improved the Inn's takings. It is possible that the stables at the "Red Lion" were pressed into service as tram sheds and/or stabling for the horses or mules while the more permanent sheds were built on the corner of the original Rampart Road (now the un-named parking area to the North of Rampart Road). The roof of the permanent shed can still be seen from outside the "Red Lion."

In 1894, “the brewers removed the old tram shed” which supports the theory.

Most of the photographs of the "Red Lion" at the time were unintentional as the photographers were portraying the various tram vehicles parked or travelling in front of the inn. The odd one out is of the Hythe Cycling Club – again, with the Inn in the background. New-fangled tramcars and bicycles were far more interesting than coaching inns at the time. However, the frontage shows some of the original features which suggest that the pub and the Inn occupied separate ends of the building. The Mackeson Ales windows at the Eastern end show where the pub half was located.


Other Users

In addition to the normal business of catering for travellers from the stage coaches and trams together with the local trade of supplying the local thirsty with beer, wines and spirits, the "Red Lion" played host to various clubs, societies and some professional concerns. In the Dates section, we see that the Hythe Cycling Club made the "Red Lion" their Headquarters in 1896 and it seemed to be the rallying point (or at least the dispersal point) of the Hythe Volunteer Band in 1862. The "Red Lion's" situation adjacent to the cattle market (Red Lion Square was previously Market Square) made it the ideal place to complete deals and to drown sorrows after a less than successful day.

In addition to the various clubs and societies mentioned, visitors with more serious intent made use of the "Red Lion." From 1805 to 1830 the Coroner's court was held at the Inn. A booklet detailing these “Coroners' Inquisitions” gives both everyday and somewhat macabre Causes of Death; from “Departed this life by the visitation of God in a natural way”, “Fell into Royal Military Canal while intoxicated and drowned”, to “Not being of sound mind, memory or understanding, lunatik, hung himself”. In these less than enlightened times, suicides were assumed to be insane and the verdict of “lunacy” was pronounced. With the proximity of the Royal Military Canal and the large number of troops around, drowning in the canal figured regularly in the Coroner's lists. It is not recorded whether the Inn was wholly occupied by the Coroner's court or whether locals and visitors were also present during the Coroners deliberations…

“Oh no!, not another lunatik - is it your round Harry?”

“Makes a change from all the drownin's last week Bert – no it ain't.”


The Red Lion in fiction

The "Red Lion" is mentioned in several of Russell Thorndike's “Doctor Syn” stories but not as a haunt of smugglers; rather a coaching inn where visitors to the area would take refreshment while the horses were changed. It was here that Captain Foulkes was the centre of attention when he arrived without his valuables and boots having been robbed by highwayman Jimmie Bone on Stone Street. (“The Shadow of Syn” 1944).


Kentish Gazette, 29 January, 1783.

Hythe, Dec. 1, 1782.

Taken by Mistake, from the "Red Lion Inn," Hythe, a very good saddle, with for small plated nails and Rasp stirrups, an old one was left in exchange, with a name, Mr. Teackler, on the upper side of the pad.

Whoever will give intelligence, where the saddle is, so as it's maybe had again, shall receive reasonable satisfaction by applying to Alan Colyer.


Kentish Gazette, 23 October, 1792.

Last week a man at the "Red Lion" public house at Hythe, drank 14 half quarterns and 7 penny glasses of geneva, after which, he was taken in a state of insensibility to the workhouse; where (not-withstanding every medical assistance) he expired the next day in the greatest agonies.

Thus by an excessive indulgence of this swinith vice, he fell a wretched victim to his folly and intemperance.

Take warning, ye drunkards by the shocking incidence of fatal inebriation.


Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal 4 August 1807.


From the Parish of Stone, in the Isle of Oxney, on Sunday night, the 26th July, 1807, or early Monday morning.

A Black Mare, aged, fourteen hands high, black mane and tail, two white feet behind, rather lap eared, tail cut.

If strayed, a reward of Half-a-Guines will be given, by giving information, so that she may be had again, to Mr. W. Packham, "Red Lion Inn," Appledore, or Mr. J. Watts, "Red Lion Inn," Hythe.

And, if stolen, a reward of Five Guineas, on conviction of the offender or offenders, by apply as above.


From the Kentish Gazette, 3 March 1840.

On Monday night or early on Tuesday morning, the house of Mr. King, "Red Lion Inn," Hythe, was broken open and entered, and a great many articles stolen there from, such as linen, wine, spirits, tobacco, cigars, silver spoons, &c., and after ransacking the lower part of the house and regaling themselves, they made off.


Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 24 October 1865.


James Larkin, a hawker of cloth, &c., was charged with assaulting and beating John Stapeley, at Hythe, on the 16th inst.

The complainant, who showed visible signs of his previous night’s punishment, having both eyes blackened and his face cut about and swollen to twice its natural size, said:- I was in the parlour of the "Red Lion" last night at about half-past ten o’clock. There were two or three sergeants present, and also the defendant. The defendant offered to fight any one in the room, and said a chap he had got would fight any one in Hythe. I observed, "That’s a great thing to say." He then took off his coat and offered to fight me, but I refused. He afterwards went into the tap room, and returned with two more men and some women. As soon as they got in, one of them, a bag-pipe man, struck me, knocking me out of the chair. The defendant then kicked me whilst I was on the floor; indeed, I was knocked about by the whole of them. The present state of my face arises from their blows, and I am also hurt about the ribs.

Richard Foreman, of Hythe, said:- I was at the "Red Lion" last night. The complainant and defendant were there. I saw the defendant go out of the room and come back again in about two minutes. He was followed by some others. Complainant was sitting talking to me, when he was knocked down out of his chair. The defendant was striking Stapeley with his fists. The complainant was brutally ill-used.

Mary White, of Hythe, proved being present at the "Red Lion" when the defendant and others knocked the complainant about.

Samuel Bailey, a soldier, said he was also present, and saw the defendant strike Stapeley and kick him. Others also came into the room and took up chairs, pots, and spittoons and threw them about. Stapeley was on the floor and some females were striking him; there was a general row.

Edward Burn, on the part of the defendant, said:- I was at the "Red Lion" last night. I was in the tap room when the defendant came in and asked some one to come and second him. I caught hold of him to prevent him going back into the room. Somebody asked him who he was going to fight with, and he said "a country Jack," and I then let him go. There was a noise in the room before this. I afterwards saw him trying to get into the room whilst the row was going on. He was in the passage; being kept back by some females.

Ordered to pay a penalty of 5; in default two months imprisonment with hard labour. The prisoner was taken to St. Augustine's, Canterbury.



Dating back to 1670 this old Coaching Inn was it first called the "Watersedge" but spent most of its early life under the name of the "Three Mariners" (now the name of another pub in Windmill Street) before becoming the "Red Lion" and giving its name to the square. In 2000 it again became the "Watersedge" but this proved to be a step too far for many and, thankfully, the name was changed back to the "Red Lion" in 2005. The "Red Lion" stands immediately opposite the side of the Old Mackison Brewery (brewing ended in May 1968) and the brewery was some years later demolished, being replaced by flats and a car park.



FINCH Robert 1622+

HARDING Clement 1623+

HARDING Robert 1625-25+

BOYS Robert 1626+

FANNING William 1633+

BRETT John 1737+

FORDRED James 1639+

MUNRO Janet 1643+

NEWMAN Thomas 1645+

THERBANE Valentine 1707+

MONGER William 1708+

HARRISON Edmund 1772+

GIBBS John 1775+

COLYER Alan 1779-83+

FRIEND Richard 1791+

HAMMOND Edward 1796+

ELVEY James 1800+

WATTS Edward 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

KING Thomas 1832-58+ (age 62 in 1851Census) Pigot's Directory 1832-34

GARDINER Vince 1862-74+ (age 59 in 1871Census)

PERRY Eliza 1881-82+ (Widow age 40 in 1881Census)

BOORMAN Joseph Henry 1891-99+ (age 37 in 1891Census)

SOLLEY Albert Edward pre Jan/1926 Next pub licensee had

IVE William 1934+

THOMAS Paul 2017+


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34



If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-