03. THE RED LION
The Red Lion had its origins in Tudor Times. In 1810 it was for sale and the title deeds traced the ownership of the back to 1682.
It catered for horse-drawn coaches and offered full residential services. On 18th September 1732 the 2nd Earl of Oxford stayed there, he was en-route from Norwich possibly to Houghton Hall. He was not enamoured of either Fakenham or the Inn and wrote in his diary – 'We left Norwich and came to Fakenham. We came there in good time. The town is a very poor town, but it was the only place we could stay at to make our journey right. We lay at the “Red Lion” kept by one Cook, a sorry house'.
In August 1738 a fire broke out in a baker’s shop in the Market Place and twenty-six buildings were destroyed. The fire was on the north side, the Church was damaged as was the Red Lion. The building ran in a north south direction, and much of that old structure remains, as does that wing that is now the adjoining charity shop in Upper Market Place. The current frontage was added after the fire and dates from the mid1700s. The building works included the erection of Gurneys Bank on the east side of the Inn. The covered entrance to the yard and stables joins the two new buildings.
Previously known as The Sign of the Red Lion, it was renamed as the Lion Hotel in the 19th century. When the railways arrived it offered horse drawn transport to the two railway stations as did the rival Crown. Its stable yard and bowling green have been re-developed as sheltered housing.
In 1816 one
The Edward VIIth Coronation Lamp stands in front of the Red Lion. It was commissioned by public subscription and was ready in time for the June coronation though this had to be postponed to August due to the King’s appendicitis. Originally sited where the War Memorial stands, it had two further moves before ending up here when the Market Place was redesigned.
You should now walk up Norwich Street, its Plaque is some 50 yards on the left on No15 Fakenham Eyewear.