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Real ales and an open fire

Welcome to The Red Lion, Manningtree’s oldest pub dating back to 1605, built during the reign of James I (1603-1625). The origin of The Red Lion signs dates back to the reign of Richard I (1189-1199) who wore the insignia as a favoured symbol. The first recorded keeper of the inn was Jonas Quitter who is described as a saddle and harness maker of the parish of Manytree (Manningtree) as it was then known.

When first built, the inn was thatched with a jettied upper storey. It is mentioned in the 1640 will of Nathaniel Warrencourt “My hospicum and tenemente at Manytree knowne by name and signe of The Red Lion with its landes, outbuildings and stables thereto belonginge be solde to paye my debts and lagacies.”

The inn is also mentioned in a book of 1647 written by Matthew Hopkins on the scourge of witchcraft. Hopkins, a native of Manningtree, was a lawyer known as the Witch Hunter General. In 1644 he suspected eight local women of witchcraft. With the aid of local man, John Stearne, Hopkins rounded up the women and threw them into the Manningtree prison, which used to sit on the land to the right of the pub. The women were eventually taken to Colchester Castle and then on to Chelmsford to stand trial. In 1645, with twenty other women, they were condemned to death and executed. There was public outcry as evidence against the women was scant. One of the local women, Elizabeth Clarke, was taken screaming and shouting from The Red Lion. Hopkins described her as a drunken sot, although her only apparent crime was that she was in possession of a cat, a polecat, a rabbit and a crow.

In 1690 the inn underwent extensive alterations; the thatch, wattle and daub was replaced with bricks and tiles, the upper jetty was removed and replaced with the current facade. During the mid eighteenth century, at the height of the coaching era, The Red Lion became an established coaching and post house. Private coaches as well as through coaches would stop here for people transferring to local transport. A room on the upper floor was used as a stage post where mail was collected and sorted before being distributed by post boys.

The inn has seen and undergone many changes since it was first built but still retains its original charm and character. So come visit us, stay, enjoy the fayre and reflect on those bygone days whilst hearing about the inns recent history from one of our many friendly locals.