Where was the Red Lion?

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In 1756 members of the Elmes family sold the Red Lion in West Haddon to William Burbidge. For the best part of the next 40 years it seems to have become the most important public house in the village. red-wine-drinker-2nd-half-of-the-18th-century-credit-franz-laktanz-graf-von-firmian

The Burbidge family probably arrived in West Haddon in the late 1740s. Their daughter Elizabeth was baptised here in July 1749, but two other daughters appear to have been born earlier, elsewhere. A son John was born at the beginning of 1753. If they were already in the village for some years before buying the Red Lion, they may have been working there as tenants in those early years.

Very shortly after the purchase, William died, in January 1757. It may have been a very sudden death. He left no will. His widow Mary took almost a year to take out letters of administration on her husband’s estate. Not only was she keeping the Red Lion going, whilst also bringing up Elizabeth, Mary and John (Sarah had died in 1752), but she was also pregnant. William junior was born four months after the death of his father. Turnpike meeting at WH notice9-15-2009_013_edited-2

The Turnpike Trustees met at the Red Lion. So did the Enclosure Commissioners. Mary was an enthusiastic supporter of Enclosure, though she owned no land. She did however enjoy the rights of the two cottage commons attached to the house and she was awarded four acres of land in place of them at Enclosure (now the site of the Mower Shop and water tower on the Northampton Road) She was said to be a very industrious woman, keen to educate her sons (at Guilsborough Grammar School) and she took a pride in bringing up all her children respectably.

Property auctions were held at the house and it was also used for the transaction of local government business, such as the putting out of parish apprentices and settlement examinations – for example, on 29th December 1762 the Overseers of the Poor spent 2s6d [13p] on ale at the Red Lion ‘when William Kemshead came over from Burton Latimer about his settlement’. Mary Burbidge receipt

Until 1791 Mary kept the business going, eventually being bought out by John West of The Crown. He divided the house into cottages and enjoyed the extra business coming to the Crown.

And so Mary’s home, once such a significant centre of village life, disappeared. No-one now remembers where it was. It was described in 1791 as ‘All that long-established public house, known by the sign of the Red Lion…containing a very extensive range of building, with a good barn, stabling, yard and out-offices.’ Guesses may be made, but so far, no evidence has come to light to identify the property which was once such a familiar element in the life of the village.

A teacher’s salary at Guilsborough

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This advertisement appeared in the Northampton Mercury for January 15th, 1759.

The Ushership of the Grammar School at Guilsborough being vacant, a Gentleman properly recommended to Sir John Langham, Sir Thomas Samwell and other Trustees, will be admitted. And as the salary is only Twenty pounds a year the addition of Ten pounds a year will be made to it, until the Usher of the said school shall acquire a Curacy.

Guilsborough Grammar School9-15-2009_009_edited-3

An Usher at a school was the deputy Master. At this time a grammar school teacher was also expected to have trained as a clergyman and in this instance the candidate was expected to combine his school duties with that of a curate (or deputy vicar) when he could find a local situation vacant.

Whoever was appointed would have taught at least two boys from West Haddon that we know of. The sons of Mary Burbidge, John and William, were both educated there. Mary was widowed before the birth of her younger son, William, but managed to continue to run The Red Lion Inn (possibly somewhere in West End?) as well as looking after four young children. She is reported to have been determined to bring them up ‘genteelly’ and gave them every opportunity to make something of their lives. John became a doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. William didn’t.

That football game

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Football play ad9-15-2009_016_edited-1

What public houses were there in West Haddon in 1765?

The Crown Hotel as it is in 2015 on the left of the picture.
The Crown Hotel as it is in 2015 on the left of the picture.

John West was the third generation of his family to own The Crown, but its current frontage was probably not in existence until after his death in 1824. In 1765 it probably looked more like this two-storied current building, formerly Hopwell’s on High Street.

Hopwell's Antiques on High Street: in 1765 The Crown may have looked more like this.
Hopwell’s Antiques on High Street: The Crown may have looked more like this in 1765.
The Sheaf Inn, West Haddon

The Sheaf Inn had changed hands in 1750, when the deeds described it as ‘the sign of The Cock’. Elizabeth Tarry was in negotiations to sell it to Stephen Warren, a baker, following the death of her husband John in 1762, The sale went through in the month following the riot.

There is evidence for the existence of The Spread Eagle, in Station Road, in the 1790s. It may well have been in business already by 1765 and is depicted in the old postcard below.

The inn sign on the left of this picture of Station Road clearly reads The Spread Eagle.
The inn sign on the left of this picture of Station Road clearly reads The Spread Eagle.

Another widow, Mary Burbidge, ran the Red Lion after her husband’s death in 1757 until 1791 when it closed down. But where was it? One theory has already bitten the dust following the discovery of some property deeds. It was almost certainly in West End, High St or Northampton Rd. If you own property in any of those streets, your deeds may hold clues to the Red Lion’s location – please get in touch!

But what about the football match?

In the 18th century  a football match wasn’t the organised affair it is today, but a much looser free-for-all, offering good business to anyone selling alcohol.

MobfootyBut was a football game really the point of that advertisement?