The Red Lion Hotel is one of the earliest surviving buildings in Colchester town centre. It was originally built as a town house for Sir John Howard, the Constable of Colchester Castle, in 1481 or 1482.
The building's oldest feature is a 14th century stone doorway and Roman pavements have been recorded in the vaulted cellars. It was first recorded as an inn in 1515 when it was known as the White Lion, after the heraldic badge of the Howards. After 1603, it became known as the Red Lion in honour of James VI of Scotland and I of England, whose Scottish royal arms featured a red lion.
The archway is decorated with St George and the Dragon and two male figures which possibly represent merchants or lawyers. As in previous centuries, today the lower part of the building is used for retail, with the hotel on the upper floors.