The Saint Arnold pub Group acquired the Lion in August 2012 and has worked tirelessly with the structure of building to sympathetically restore and enhance the many beautiful aspects of this much loved venue. It has had so many guises though out its long history from Guild Hall and Cottage to Ale House, Pub and Hotel. We have a full historic report available but always welcome Pictures and stories about the Lion so we can in the future create a booklet.
The building is a complex mix of four historic sections and several modern ones. The most westerly building, now called the “Hunt Room” was probably built as a guildhall or court hall in the 14th century or early 15th century. It was jetted to the high street and evidence of this can be seen above the bay window with scarring and wooden section let in. Here on the soffit of the lower jetty beam can be seen four pairs of semi rounded holes. These holes are the mortices the mullions of windows with tracery. There were four bays to the east originally which seemed to consist of one room on each floor.
The ground floor room is highly decorated with fine Sycma mouldings on all the bridging joists these, in their day were high status decorations and would have taken many man-hours to create. The bay to the west, which appears to have been truncated at some later date, is plainer decorated with simple chamfers. It appears to have been either a stair case or a store room. Other guildhalls in north Essex have staircases in this position. The original roof has been replaced but it was probably a crown post roof. The present roof is a side purlin roof with wind braces, probably built in the 17th century. It was meant to be seen from the room below as the principal rafters are finely chamfered. The fact that the guildhall has a 17thcentury roof suggests that the building may have been moved. It has one elaborate crown post roof truss but the main roof is a side purlin 17th century roof. The large inglenook chimney in the ‘Hunt Room’ is believed to be a 17th Century addition. This gave the ground floor one slightly larger heated room and slightly smaller unheated room. In the restroom area is a modern (18th Century) brick rubble wall which was built to divide to room into a small cottage layout with a new stair case in far corner. This End of the building has had many roles since the insertion of the Chimney, Ii seems this area was a separate cottage then joined back up to the hotel in or around early 1960s with a small Lean-to which has now been replaced by the English Oak and glass one that leads to the courtyard. The small cooking range that can be seen in this area was inserted using part of the 17th Century Chimney but this seems to be early 19th Century and was revealed during our renovation complete with irons inside.
The second building is built right against the guildhall and consisted originally of an open hall with sooted rafters. This was originally a ground floor hall with a sooted crown post roof. At some stage perhaps in the 17th or 18th century they decided to make the hall two storied with integral floor. This pushed the sooted hall roof up by about eight feet making the hall roof now about four feet higher than the adjoining cross wing roof. To hold the rafters apart a new side purlin roof of pine was inserted. Some of the studs of the rebuilt hall still survive in the north wall of the hall. On the outer face of the east end of the guildhall there is a weathering scar, which shows the outline of the open hall when it was a single storied open hall. This shows that the guildhall had been there for some time before the hall roof was raised in height.
The third building is a 13th Century two bay cross wing cottage of two floors, the outside timbers and windows can be seen clearly when walking in to the building from the patio area (the ‘Bay Room’). It has a complete crown post roof. It is believed that this is the original ale house.
The final small square room at the east end of the cottage, which now houses the easy-access restroom and ‘Wine Shop’ whose age is yet to be determined but is made with ancient timbers with at least one peg hole and is held together with iron straps which could date back to the medieval period. This was the original entrance to the Lion and was changed in 2004.
The ‘Bay Room’ was built in 1946/7 to contain a new resident’s lounge with a large bay window and splendid arts and crafts style fireplace. This was for the exclusive use of the hotel residents at the White lion Hotel. Residents entered the hotel by a now blocked doorway at the extreme east of the hotel, down a passage adjacent to the ‘bottle and jug’ off sales to the residents lounge. Once in the lounge the residents had their own private staircase to their rooms above. Originally designed to be open as it is now, after the first Winter a ceiling was constructed to increase the warmth within the room obscuring the view of the back wall of the cottage.