History of Red Lion Hotel Unveiled on Roarsome Plaque

The Red Lion Hotel’s history will not be forgotten thanks to a new heritage information board installed on Friday outside The Relais Henley hotel by Henley Town Council.

The plaque charts the history of the land where the hotel stands from the 15th century when a warehouse and trading hub was first built on the land next to the church yard through to the 20th century when the Red Lion sold the neglected Chantry House in 1923 to St Mary’s Church as parish rooms but retained and leased the ground floor.  Over the centuries there have many famous and infamous guests including King Charles 1 and King George and Queen Charlotte listed on the plaque.  The plaque finishes with “By the skin of the Lion’s teeth”…  noting the purchase and restoration of the hotel by The Relais Retreats Group in 2020 with a £3m investment.

This is seventh historical plaque that has been installed around the town.  The idea for the plaques was Councillor David Eggleton and the first one was installed at the entrance to Gainsborough estate about Humphrey Gainsborough in 2015.  The others can be found at Mill Meadows about the Obelisk, on the towpath at the entrance to Mill Meadows about a famous 17th century Henley painting, on Singers Park about Henley bridge, at the Chantry House behind St Mary’s Church and about the puddingstone on Gravel Hill.  The information and pictures for the plaque are researched by Viv Greenwood, a member of the Henley Archaeological & Historical Society.

Henley Mayor, Councillor Michelle Thomas unveiled the plaque.  She said, “These boards are not just important for visitors to the town but to our own residents to understand our own history.  So every time we reveal one of these we are learning a bit more about the place in which we live.  I fully support these boards and I’m delighted to see another one here outside The Relais at the Red Lion Hotel.”

Viv Greenwood, “Thank you to Jason and Leanne from The Relais, for Park Services and David Eggleton for setting this up, to Ruth Gibson for always helping me and Peter Crook for his photos.  Ye Lyon (Red Lion) originally was the poor cousin of the Chantry House.  The reason why the Red Lion is here so close to St Mary’s Church is that it would be a focal point for the town.”  Viv presented Jason Thorley, General Manager at The Relais with an old apollinaris water bottle she found on a local archaeological dig about 3 years ago which matches the date of hotel’s plan that shows a mineral water bottle store on it.”

Jason Thorley said, “Grace Leo and I are both absolutely delighted to be part of the local heritage of Henley.  This plaque really depicts exactly what The Relais at the Red Lion Hotel is all about and we’re going to make sure that everyone of our guests of the hotel view the board and really understand the importance of The Red Lion.”