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The Debenham Lion has been lovingly restored by a local family to return it to its former glory as a brilliant British country side pub. We look forward to welcoming you back, either for a pint by the fire in the atmospheric tap room or for a delicious meal with family or friends in our saloon bar or snug.  As a free house, we offer a great choice of local beers, with frequent guest beers to try, and carefully chosen wines both from the UK and across Europe. We serve classic British pub food with fresh and seasonal ingredients sourced from around Debenham, Suffolk and East Anglia. 







The Lion’s History

From its outset the Lion has provided food and drink to serve the village of Debenham. Originally known as the 'gylynghows' (a brewhouse with vats), the oldest part of the building was completed by 1463 to serve the guild members of the ‘Gild of the Holy Trinity’, whose feasting room was located in the adjacent Guildhall (from which it is now separated by award winning butcher Palfrey & Hall) The building was fitted with hatches on the ground floor to allow food and beer to be served to customers on the street. The Guild’s priest occupied the upper rooms at the pub and a now demolished porch served as his chapel. It is likely that the Guild also had an altar in the village church of St Mary Magdalene, up the hill.  The Guild of the Holy Trinity, like thousands of similar guilds in villages and town across England, had for hundreds of years provided societies that served its members and the wider community – providing welfare to members’ widows and orphans, basic sickness insurance, covering the cost of religious festivals, regulating members’ trade and serving wider charitable purposes within the community.  It is likely that the ‘Gylynghows’ not only provided the food and beer for guild members in their Guildhall but also the wider community, just as a village pub does now.


In the mid-16th century the Dissolution brought the end of the guilds and the Holy Trinity Guildhall and its brewhouse passed into private hands. Both buildings were acquired by the Harryson family, who commissioned the fine surviving plaster ceiling in the upper corner room, resplendent with their initials G&E. The pub may have been named the Red Lion around this time, as with many significant buildings were ordered to display the heraldic lion of James VI of Scotland, who had acceded to the English throne as James I in 1603. It is almost certain that the building carried on as an inn throughout these turbulent times. 


The Red Lion closed for business in 1998 but in 2021 a local family acquired the pub and worked with Mark Hoare of Hoare, Ridge & Morris, with the advice of architectural historian Timothy Easton, to restore the pub to the highest standards. We are excited that after this brief interlude in its long history the Lion has once again taken its place at the centre of the village community of Debenham.


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The Debenham Lion

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