Building record MCC49 - The Red Lion Hotel, High Street, Colchester


15th century house and inn.


Grid reference TL 99680 25205 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE
1848 Parish ST NICHOLAS


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Three storey complex of 15th and 16th century timber-framed buildings that now house the Red Lion Hotel. A detailed building survey was undertaken in 1987 by Essex CC. This recorded the use of 'Colchester braces' and jowless posts in the core structure, suggesting a comparative date range from 1480 to 1550. The house is linked to the Howard family of Colchester, however, its original function remains unclear, possibly a town house, a commercial venture or indeed an Inn. The building contains some elaborate window tracery and carved spandrels and bridging joists. The two key component: the frontage complex and the southern Hall have distinctive carpentry styles, but these cannot easily be put in chronological sequence. A series of medieval cellars are situated under the building, much of the stonework is covered by thick layers of whitewash, and a number of later alterations have been made.<1> The range is listed Grade I.<2> Alterations were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and the building was 'restored' in the 19th and 20th centuries.<3> The court rolls of 1527 make reference to 'the Lyon' wine tavern near the market. The buildings oldest feature is a 14th century stone doorway, Roman pavements have been recorded in the vaulted cellars.<4>

Dendrochronological investigation was undertaken by Martin Bridge in 2016. A number of areas within this building were looked at and some areas were sampled – the front west corner, the rear west range and parts of the east range. Many of the timbers had rather short sequences and some matching between timbers was poor. Two timbers from the front range (possible third phase of construction) did however date, two corner posts of the front west room. One timber was felled in winter 1475/76, and a second with detached sapwood was probably felled at the same time, or within a very few years of this date. A post from the ‘southern hall’ in the rear of the west range matched a corner post at the rear of the east range. These were subsequently dated and have a very similar felling date, the ‘southern hall’ timber having a last measured ring of 1475, and although this looked like the final ring on the timber itself, this was uncertain on the core. Timbers from the east range and the section between the ‘southern hall’ and the front range on the west side also have similar felling date ranges, suggesting that all sections were built within a very short timescale.<5><6>

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Article in serial: Stenning, D.F.. 1994. The Red Lion Hotel, Colchester. Essex Archaeology and History. Transactions of the Essex Society Vol. 25, 1994, pp.134-159. pp.134-159.
  • <2> LIST: Department of the Environment. 1971. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Borough of Colchester (Essex). p.55.
  • <3> Monograph: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1922. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): Essex, (North-East). Volume III. p.55.
  • <4> Monograph: Jephcott, Jess. A. 1995. The Inns, Taverns and Pubs of Colchester.
  • <5> Historic Building Recording: Bridge, Martin. 2016. Preliminary Dendrochronological Investigations at The Red Lion Hotel, High Street, Colchester, Essex.
  • <6> Historic Building Recording: Bridge, Martin. 2016. Dendrochronological Dating of Timbers at The Red Lion Hotel, High Street, Colchester, Essex.

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Record last edited

May 28 2019 9:36AM

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