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Elton and the Lion.

With social distancing measures still restricting outings, this bygone boozer will have to be another very local one. Despite being local I've had to rely on Mr. Google for some images as, with everybody staying at home, there are currently far too many cars in the village to be able to take shots without the subject being obscured by the side of a Subaru, the roof of a Renault or the bonnet of a BMW. (When Mr. Google drove through in July 2009, conveniently, there were parking restrictions in force to allow for resurfacing. The village isn't usually that devoid of motors.)

Put 'Elton' and 'lion' into Google, or your search engine of choice, and you get hundreds of results about the Lion King, but hidden amongst them there will probably be a couple relating to the Old Red Lion in Elton, Derbyshire.

Almost hidden from view, and lying even fewer crank turns or footsteps away from my front door than the Nelson's Arms, is the former Red Lion Inn.

Access to the Red Lion from Ivy Lane.

The Red Lion is the most common name for a pub in the country and I've already encountered five closed, bygone ones including those in Hartington, Wensley and Brassington. It's thought that this may be because James I (VI of Scotland) decreed that all important buildings should display the red lion of Scotland – and that included pubs!

It's unlikley that our Red Lion dates to those times, but who knows. It may have been erected on the site of an earlier inn, but in any case, it's been around for a while with Thomas Cadman being named as the innkeeper in the 1829 edition of Glover's Directory.

Although its modern address puts it on Ivy Lane the Red Lion was previously recorded in censuses as being on Town Street, the main artery of the village. When I say artery, think arteriole rather than aorta. It is Elton that I'm talking about after all.

Entrance from Main Street July 2011 ©2020 Google

With it being set back from the main road running through the village, to advertise its whereabouts to any passing traveller there was a sign on Town Street, now called Main Street. (Perhaps someone thought that a reference to 'town' was just a bit pretentious.) And no, that's not one of my bikes.

The Red Lion's sign on Main Street. Picture from 1930s when Reuben Bunting was landlord.

Main Street with the Red Lion's sign visible on the left. Early 1900s.

View from a similar point in July 2009. ©2020 Google

In the early 2000s the Old Red Lion was the residence of Dale and Vicky McQueen. Emanating from their kitchen window would often be the mouth-watering aroma of oven-fresh gluten-free pies, cakes and other goodies that Vicky was baking, through necessity, well before the gluten-free fad started. They have since moved to Callander in Dale's native Scotland, via the larger kitchen of the Okeover Arms in Mappleton, where they now occupy their time distilling gin.

The current occupation of the Old Red Lion's current occupant is a current occupation. He installed the wiring in our new bathroom and he's also been rewiring the Duke of York which, since the Nelson and the Lion have long since given up the ghost, is now the only pub in the village. Hopefully with that financial investment it'll be reopening when this Covid-19 lockdown eases.

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