So what’s the story? Well, established way back in 1670 as the Robin Hood, it had turned into the Red Lion by the mid-18th century, a stopping place for stage coaches and, in the absence of a town hall, a bit of a social hotspot.
Then it was rebuilt in 1891 into the fine Gothic pile unveiled this week by current owners Antic (after what feels like aeons under scaffolding). And hark: look closely at those leaded windows! That elegant cupola! The way it catches the evening sun!Until the present incarnation, its previous most popular era after the 1930s (see main pic above) was arguably the 1970s, when it was a live music venue and hosted an early Led Zeppelin London gig. Other bands to have graced its stage include Yes, Genesis and Roxy Music. Not a bad pedigree, eh?
There have been low points too, its popularity taking a nosedive in the 1980s as the oddly-named Luthers; by 2001 it had become Cuba Bella, a salsa bar, before a revamp as Zulu’s a year later, a late night watering hole aimed at the area’s South African residents.
And so it ticked over until finally closing in 2010 – before being reborn five years ago courtesy of Antic, the pub group which started life as the seminal Dog Star in Brixton.
So isn’t it a relief that once again the Lion’s roaring as loudly as it should be? To celebrate there’s even a new head chef in the kitchen, so expect a little more prowess there too.