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The White Lion

by janet on 1 December 2011 · 4 comments

From an article by Peter and Gill Tydie in the September 2005 issue of the Walkern Journal

The White Lion Inn

The White Lion pub was built in the 16th century and was originally named the Rose and Crown, a legacy maybe of the union of the York Rose and the English throne. The first reference can be found in 1766, when it was part of the marriage settlement of Mary Field on her marriage to John Smith of Hitchin.

The name changed to the White Lion in around 1786; the reason for the name change is not known but that there was a Red Lion pub nearly opposite (now Redlyn House) may have had a bearing. In 1796, it was bought by John Crabb, a brewer of Hitchin.

It was originally a coaching inn with stables, a coach shed and ostler. Until 1784, when mail coaches started making an appearance, the Inn would have catered for small coaches owned by the rich, waggonettes, pack horses and horseback riders as well as those who walked! However, by 1881 when Isaac Canning (aged 48) came with his 4 sons and 2 daughters, it was no longer catering for coaches and had become a public house.

Mr and Mrs Bathgate at the White Lion

Some 16th century work remains inside and there is a good 18th century oak doorway. Witness to the increase in average height is born by the ceiling in front of the bar being 5?8? with the lowest doorway upstairs 5′. The present car park was previously the site of the Canning?s sawmill and builders yard. It is understood that local assize was held in an upstairs room with the pegs for the wigs and gowns still in use today. The local cells being located just across the road. The local fair was held until the late 19th century in the field directly opposite the pub.

Advert in the Herts Guardian 23 September 1865


Past landlords included Elizabeth Pearman (1850), Isaac Canning (1881) and then in the last century (20th that is), Rolfe, Hunt, Patterson, Bathgate and Mike Windebank.

The first full licence as an alehouse was granted in 1919, which it remained until 1947 when it was licensed for beer and wine, with the full licence being granted in 1953.

The White Lion, Walkern, abt 1910

The White Lion in the 1950s, Walkern

The White Lion in about 1961

Christmas at the White Lion about 1961

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John Gadsden November 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Hi Peter Is there any chance that you are my friend from Alleynes. ?
Regards John.


Peter January 23, 2021 at 11:07 am

Yes John – it is I


Peter Canning June 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

Isaac Canning was my great great grandfather. My grandfather, Francis Richard, was born in the pub1889.


mary campbell April 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I have been trying to find out about the White Lion, Walkern because my great uncle Fred Hunt was a puplican there. I visited with my parents several times but I cannot be sure when. I think in the forties. Can you help me with the date? Fred’s wife was Martha and they had a son, Bill who lived in Weatherby, Yorks. The family originate from Mortlake and Richmond .Fred was born in 1871 He was a timekeeper at the local gas works before moving to Walkern. He was the eldest brother of my paternal grandmother. I hope this helps to add a little bit more history to the White Lion.,I have very happy memories of my visits especially of a big wooden solataire board!


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