Red Lion

2 Duke of York Street,
SW1Y 6JP

This pub is not only a grade II listed building but it is also on both the London Regional Inventory and the National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest. The description is as follows: “A national treasure – the Red Lion has one of the most spectacular late-Victorian pub interiors anywhere – small but beautifully formed! It is claimed there’s been a pub on the site since 1788. The present building went up in 1821 and was given a new pub front in 1871 by architect W. H. Rawlings though the fittings may be rather later. The actual trading area of the pub is tiny and surrounds a central serving area. Yet a century ago, small as it is, it would have been divided up into various separate areas – the three outside doorways are proof of that as are the names ‘public bar’ and ‘private bar’ in the door glass. The front part was probably divided up into three while the back area has always been a single space. What makes the Red Lion so special are the superlative etched and cut mirrors lining two of the walls. They create brilliant, glittering reflections to conjure up a magical atmosphere far removed from the prosaic world of everyday life beyond the pub. The picture is completed by an ornamental ceiling and frieze in both areas. The bar counter at the front has drop-down panels for servicing beer engines in former times – you can see the remains of the keyholes. Don’t be fooled by the gantry fittings sitting on the counter top – like nearly all such features they are modern work (see how fresh the woodwork looks).”

The listing description is as follows:”Terrace house with pub. 1821. Yellow brick, slate roof. 3 storeys and dormered mansard. 3 windows wide. Late C19 timber public house front. The ground floor with 2 semicircular arched entrances flanking and one to centre, patterned frosted glass to intervening windows, framed by pedestalled fluted pilasters, fascia with cresting. 1st floor sash windows, no glazing bars, set in arcade, plain revealed sashes with flat gauged arches to 2nd floor; parapet with coping; 2 arched dormers. Intact richly decorated public house interior with fittings and screens of mahogany and engraved and cut glass and mirror glass etc.”

The Red Lion featured on the Four Lions, a Badger and the Garden of Eden: Evening Crawl of Westminster and St James's in August 2008.