Windebanks at the White Lion

by janet on 7 August 2012 · 0 comments

Mike & Jeanie Windebank at the White Lion

From an article by Bob Bruce in the July 1975 Walkern Journal

Commanding an entrance and exit to the village of Walkern at its NE end, ‘the top of the High Street’, stands an Elizabethan Inn which was once titled the ‘Rose and Crown’ and is over 350 years old.

The Rose and Crown, title a legacy perhaps, of the Union of the York Rose and English throne, changed to ‘White Lion’ at a date unknown; nor is the reason apparent. That there was a Red Lion public house nearly opposite (now Redlyn private house) at the time, may have a bearing.

The Rose and Crown in 1625, the year of the death of King James I of England and Scotland, and in the following reign of Charles I, catered for small coaches owned by the rich, waggonettes, and pack horses, horseback riders, the remaining majority walked.

Later coaches started to brave the rough and ready trail speed 3-4 miles a day. In 1784 mail coaches appeared, averaging 10 miles a day and the Inn became a coach haven, fairly busy or perhaps overworked: Stabling behind was near the River Beane, so good watering for the horses was had there. In Totts Lane was probably the blacksmiths where an unused one now stands.

Mine hosts Mr and Mrs Windebank – Mike and Jeannie who have been in charge for 5 years now, say there is not much preserved from antiquity, apart from the building, timber framed, and low oak beamed ceiling. However upstairs, there is one thing curious – namely, queer shaped hooks, specially made for wigs and mounted on a wig rack. Downstairs in the cellar nothing very old resides.

Mike feels that the Inn was once joined with the Cannon’s Bootshop across the gap of Winter’s Lane, a sort of corridor, as was the style of architecture in those days. He knew there was a cellar under the shop.

The only Inn in Walkern, taking 7 guests, the White Lion is not so today, as Mike and Jeannie, with their four children, (3 at school now) totally occupy all the bedrooms.

During their stay, alterations have taken place, and floor space in front of the bar is now doubled. The new dining room (with its ancient fireplace) serves good food, and is good value too~ An evening meal A la Carte is served, cooked by Jeannie. “Parties and special functions are always catered for” said Jeannie. Incidentally, this year, one of the prizes at the Fair was a dinner for two at the White Lion.

A colourful surround of shrubs in the new adjoining car park adds charm to this end of Walkern High Street. The pumpkin competition, judging takes place every year at the end of September, always a full house. Get your plant now at the Hhite Lion.

Mike and Jeannie are genial and very welcome hosts, who in extending a welcome, do not alwasy stay behind their bar, but mix also with their ‘guests’.

One of their first customers was a former Rector of Walkern the Rev. Digby Baker of blessed memory, who would sometimes go behind the bar and as Mike said “He could pull a good’ pint.” Jegnnie had worked with the former Rector at a Letchworth Church, when she was a choir girl and bellringer. WJ readers would wish good luck to Mike and Jeannie and their family at the White Lion.

Footnote To the curious, one thing that might puzzle. What does that old cellar under the Cannon family’s bootshop contain? Some vintage, or old brew, perhaps; or just old boots…

Leave a Comment