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The Late Lion | Evening, December 26th- Xmas 1677

Guest Cèilidh

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The Red Lion Inn


The main entrance is situated at the eastern side of the building. A room of whitewashed walls and dark oak beams, a cheery fire burns in the fireplace on the west wall. A desk is located here, behind which sits a tall, thin blonde lad with merry eyes and a ready smile.


The tap room is located in the centre front of the ground floor. A great fireplace is set on the east wall; at the north end of the room is the serving counter. A door behind the counter gives access to the kitchen area; a door beside it give access to the guests' stair.


In order to pay his enormous bill, artist Isaac Fuller has decorated the walls of this room with paintings of lions. Behind the serving counter is a depiction of Hercules fighting the Nemean lion. On the east wall, around and over the fireplace Aesop's lion has the thorn removed from his paw. The south wall has a painting of Daniel in the lion's den: this painting incorporates the door to the street. The west wall has a depiction of the goddess Cybele in her lion-drawn chariot.


The taproom is furnished with an oak settle before the fireplace and tables and stools are scattered in congenial groups around the room. The floor is covered with the finest sand which is changed weekly.


It was a cold and crisp morning this second day of Christmas and the Red Lion – that most exclusive of London establishments - stood ready to offer warmth and succour to those in need of it. In the Tap Room, Hezekiah Golightly had mulled wine and warm spiced sack in addition to the usual beverages, and the fire was roaring in the hearth, ensuring anyone occasioning there would find the warmth they sought.


A full dinner was, of course, available in the dining room, but for those who preferred to take their ease in less formal circumstances, bowls of hearty beef broth, plates of battered whitebait with lemon and platters of smoked ham, cheese, bread and pickles were available to the clientele.


“Say what you like, the cold does us all some good.” Golightly, an older fellow with a huge black beard, now heavily salted, was saying to a well-dressed young man who was holding up the bar. “You should have seen it after that case of the plague in Lords. Like rats from a ship they were, but the cold keeps the foul miasmas down. There hasn’t been a case since the weather turned.”


The young man took this in stoically, nodding quietly and sipping his mulled wine. He was dressed all in black, his fine coat well tailored, a jet brooch pinned to his breast. As he lifted his glass a gold ring flashed on one finger. “Has everyone returned to London for the season then?” He asked.


“Most.” Hezekiah allowed. “There’s a few stay away, can’t or won’t travel or still fear the plague, but where the King goes the country follows.”


From outside the warm firelight spilling through the window panes made the Lion seem a bastion of warmth and hope against the cold winter's night as a light snow began to fall.

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