4, 4a and 4b, High Street.
‘The Black Lion’
The ‘Black Lion’ was here for around 150 years from at least 1728 until its closure in about 1870. The property became part of Thew & Son’s premises for over fifty years, between about 1871 to 1923. More details about Thews will be found at Nos. 1 – 4, High Street.
When Thews moved out, No. 4 reverted to being a single unit, albeit with up to three separate occupiers, being used by a number of different businesses.
c1822 – c1830 (William Tilson)
William Tilson was here in 1822 and in 1830 (both Pigot). His parents were William and Susanna Tilson, and he was born in the town in about 1762. He had worked as a pilot at the port before becoming the publican here. His wife died on 24th September, 1826.
On leaving the Black Lion in about 1830, William Tilson moved into the Framington’s Hospital, where he died on 30th August, 1837, aged 75.
c1832 – c1854 (Elizabeth Billing)
The landlady of the ‘Black Lion’ was Elizabeth Billing (née Bayfield) from at least 1836, when she was listed in White’s Directory, until about 1854.
Following the death of her husband, the Norfolk Chronicle carried the following report on 22nd September, 1832:
DEATHS: Monday last (17th) at Lynn, of a consumption (tuberculosis), Mr. John Billing, son of the late Mr. John Billing of the Black Lion, whose death occurred the preceding week.
From this report, it would seem that Elizabeth’s father-in-law, John Billing snr., had been the landlord here and it may be, therefore, that she had taken over after his death later that year.
Born in Little Fransham in about 1806, Elizabeth Bayfield married John Billing jnr. (b. c1803 in Lynn) on 19th May, 1825 in West Winch. John was a mariner, and he and Elizabeth apparently moved into the Black Lion when his father became the publican. They had at least three children, all born in Lynn:-
1) John – a saddler – (b. c1828). 2) Thomas (b. c1830). 3) William (b. 1832).
After her husband’s death, Elizabeth stayed on at the Black Lion and was living on the premises in both 1841 and 1851. In the earlier census she had her three sons living with her. Her son John, a saddler, was still living with her in 1851. Elizabeth appears to have given up as publican of the Black Lion by 20th September, 1854 when the Norwich Mercury reported that she had been unsuccessful in her application to the Board of Guardians for the vacant post of matron.
In 1861, Elizabeth was working as a live-in housekeeper in Swaffham, but by 1871 she had moved back to Lynn and was lodging with Mary Anne Fisher, a hosier and haberdasher, in St. James Street.
She died on 10th October, 1880 aged 76. Her will was proved by her nephew, William John Lancaster, acting as her sole executor. William married Elizabeth’s sister, Harriet Bayfield, at West Winch church on 6th February, 1822. He had been born in Lynn and was knighted in 1903 (see below)
Sir William John Lancaster.
In his day, Sir William Lancaster was one of the most famous and revered men to have hailed from the town. Born in Lynn in 1841, his parents were John Lancaster – a farmer – (b. c1787 – d. 1852, aged about 65) and Harriet Bayfield (alternatively spelt as Harriot) – Elizabeth Billing’s sister – (b. 1800 – d. 1884, aged 84). They married on 6th February, 1822 at West Winch. Following his retirement from farming, John Lancaster took a shop in All Saints Street, Lynn (1841), moving to South Street/ St. James Street by 1851.
John and Harriet had at least three children:-
1) Harriet Frances (b. c1827 in West Winch – d. 26/06/1902 in Snettisham, aged 76). 2) Martha Gates (b. 1829 in West Winch – d. 1921, aged 91 in Snettisham). 3) William John – see below – (b. 1841 in King’s Lynn – m. Sarah Harriet Roy on 21/04/1868 – d. 28/02/1929, aged 87, in Putney, Surrey).
William Lancaster went to the Grammar School in Lynn and continued an association with it throughout his life. Upon leaving school he took a job as a junior clerk with the Prudential Assurance Company. He advanced though the ranks to become the Company Secretary and then Deputy Chairman and to be credited with helping to guide it to become one of the largest and most profitable insurance and loan companies in the world. When he stepped down as secretary, he was elected onto the board.
During his working life, William Lancaster amassed a large fortune and became a generous philanthropist. Much of his generosity supported causes close to his London residence in Putney Hill, which, with a nod to his home town, he named ‘South Lynn’.
He was elected as Mayor of Wandsworth, a newly created municipality, for 1901/2 and devoted much time to civic life. Whilst serving as Mayor, he gave Tooting a new free library and provided Wandsworth with a recreation ground. He also gave a ceremonial mace to the Borough, known as the Putney Mace because it was made from wood salvaged from one of the piers to the old Putney Bridge demolished in 1886. He was a modest man and insisted that his name should not be publicly associated with these gifts.
He became a Justice of the peace and his other interests included serving as a churchwarden, a vestry man, a member of the Rochester Diocesan Society, Governor of Christ’s Hospital, a Liveryman of the Carpenters, the Loriners, and the Musicians Companies.
He was a great supporter of secondary education and of the arts. Following the death of his wife Sarah in 1889, aged 47, he funded the building of a church hall dedicated to her memory and incorporating a model kitchen where cookery lessons were given. He donated a classroom to the National School in Charlwood Road, Putney, where boys could be taught carpentry. He co-founded the Putney School of Art in 1883 with Baron Pollock and Sir Arthur Jeff. The school started out in rooms over the parish offices in Putney High Street but the L.C.C. refused to recognise the school unless it moved into larger premises. He bought the freehold of a plot of land in Oxford Road and provided a building to house the school, leasing it to the management committee at a nominal rent and giving the members the option to purchase it at any time at the original cost price. He used this financial arrangement again when building a club for young working men, St. Mary’s Recreation Rooms.
He maintained a house in Snettisham, Norfolk, where his two daughters lived, and was a regular visitor to the county. He was lord of the manor of East Winch and patron of the parish church. He was the treasurer of the Norfolk Lodge of Freemasons in London and one of the founders of the lodge connected with the Society of East Anglians in the City.
When William Lancaster had attended the Lynn Grammar School it was housed in buildings in St. James Street, and it was still there in 1902 when an issue arose over its future and the Town Council began to investigate the provision of new premises. William Lancaster offered to provide the new buildings if the Council acquired a suitable site and agreed to amalgamate the Grammar School with the Technical School. At a special meeting of the Town Council on 1st July, 1903, William Lancaster’s generous offer was accepted. At the time his gift was reported to be worth ‘considerably over £10,000’ – later estimated to be between £50,000 and £60,000. He commissioned the architect Basil Champneys (1842 – 1935) to design the new school. Champneys is best known as the architect of the John Rylands Library in Manchester; Newnham College, Cambridge; Mansfield College, Oxford; and the Rhodes Building at Oriel College, Oxford.
King Edward VII opened the new Grammar School building on 5th November, 1906. The royal party, who had travelled from Sandringham House by carriage and car, were met at Wootton Gap by an escort of the King’s Own Royal Regiment Imperial Yeomanry, and there was a guard of honour between the school gates and the entrance to the hall. The welcoming party assembled at the main entrance, and included the Mayor, Alderman Edwin Dunn (see No. 65, High Street), the Headmaster, the town Clerk and William Lancaster, who played a major role in the ceremony. This included presenting Mr. Champneys to the King, inviting His Majesty to declare the buildings open and, later, to unveil his statue.
The programme for this ceremony did not include one of the most significant events, which may have taken the gathered crowd of guests by surprise, when the King asked William Lancaster to step forward and to kneel before him to be knighted.
Sir William’s grandson Osbert (1908 – 1986) was one of the few cartoonists ever to be knighted (1975). Sir Osbert described Sir William as ‘a kind, authoritative, philanthropic, good-humoured and exemplary grandparent’.
c1856 – c1860 (Charles Edmund Waller)
Charles Edmund Waller, a plumber, painter and glazier, born on 12th August, 1822 in Lynn, was the next publican and was licensee in 1858. Charles was the son of Holman Waller (c1791 – c1845), a mariner, and Anna Langley (c1787 – c1843). Holman later became a plumber and the family were living in Union Street, Lynn, in 1841, when Charles was an apprentice plumber.
In 1847, Charles married Mary Ann Garner, born c 1827 in Swaffham, and they were living at Hillington Row in Lynn in 1851. Charles and Mary had four children:-
1) Hannah Jane (b. 1848 – m. Thomas Frank Wood in 1898 – d. 1942, aged about 94). 2) Charles Holman – a dock foreman – (b. 1851 – m. Georgiana Harper Goldsmith in 1871 – d. 1933, aged 82). 3) Edmund William – a dock labourer – (b. 1854 – m. Susannah Askew Beeson in 1880 – d. 1924, aged 70). 4) Frank Henry – a grocer and provision merchant – (b. 1861 – m. Ellen Jane Hayward in 1894 and Jessie Georgina Pillow in 1903 – d. 1931, aged 71).
Charles Waller had left the ‘Black Lion’ by 1861 to concentrate on his plumbing and glazing business and was living in Nelson Street. He died in 1869, aged about 47.
After the death of her husband, Mary Ann Waller took on the job of housekeeper to Edward Self of Nelson Street, who was a collector of harbour moorings dues. She died in 1903, aged 79.
c1860 – c1861 (William Drew)
William Drew was the next licensee, listed as ‘victualler & mariner (coasting trade)’ in the 1861 census.
Born in Lynn in about 1829, he married Mary Ann Woods at St. Margaret’s church on 30th November, 1848. They were living here in 1861, when Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth was staying with them. She was 17 years old and working as a general servant. Their father Christopher Woods had been a baker. William’s father was a mariner and the family lived in Jews Lane before moving to South Street.
William went to sea at an early age, being recorded as a ship’s boy in 1841 when aged about 12 or 13. He did not remain in the pub trade for very long and left to continue his life as a mariner. He died between 1881 and 1891, possibly at sea.
Mary Ann Drew lived on her own in Lynn for many years and died in 1901, aged 71.
c1861 – 1867 (Edmund Creed Rowe)
Later in 1861, Edmund Creed Rowe took over as publican at the Black Lion. At census time, he had been living at 33, St James Street, where he was a ‘meter and toy dealer’.
Born in Litcham in about 1820, he married Martha Hinds from Docking in 1843.
After leaving the Black Lion, Edmund moved to No. 121, High Street, and by 1879 he had moved again, this time to No. 43, High Street, where more details of him and his family will be found.
c1868 – c1870 (William Harned)
William Harned is listed here in Harrod’s directory for that year. He was probably the last licensee prior to the closure of the pub.
c1871 – 1923 (Thew & Son)
In the census of 1871, for No 4 High Street the enumerator recorded ‘No person slept in this Ho. although occupied in day time as Printing Office.’ This may have been associated with Thew & Son’s business because the building had become a part of their premises by about 1873 / 4.
1923 – c1954 (C. G. Barrett & Co. Ltd.)
After Thew & Son moved out in 1923, this became a single shop unit and was used for C. G. Barrett’s receiving centre for their laundry service, their business being listed here in Kelly’s Directories between 1928 and 1954 inclusive.
Charles Golding Barrett jnr. had commenced in the laundry business in about 1889 and the company had premises at Nos. 86 and 107 High Street before moving their receiving centre to No. 4. The accommodation at No. 4 included some rooms and a workshop that were not needed for the laundry business and these were let out by Barretts. Charles Golding Barrett died in April, 1937, aged 70.
Like many companies, Barretts held an annual staff party in the New Year and the report in the Lynn Advertiser on 21st January 1938 describes the one laid on that year:-
‘STAFF “SOCIAL”. – The employees of Messrs. C. G. Barrett and Co.’s Laundry held their annual “social” and dance on Friday in the Blackfriars’ Hall. The programme included a beetle drive, games, dancing, and a display of tap-dancing by Miss Q. Sladen and Mr. R. Winter. Prizes were given for the various items. Supper was served by the social committee to about ninety people, and Mrs. C. G. Barrett, Miss. L. Barrett and Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Barrett were amongst the guests. Mr. L. W. A. Barrett was M.C. for the dancing and games with Miss E. Hawkins as M.C. for the beetle drive. The “social” and dance had been arranged by the following: Mr. L. W. A. Barrett (chairman), the Misses E. Hawkins (sec.), P. Cowen, A. Bailey, D. Easton, G. Griffiths, E. Wagg, F. Massingham and Mr. E. Coston’.
Barretts continued to be listed at No. 4 High Street until Kelly’s Directory of 1954.
More information is given about Barretts under the account for Nos. 86 & 117 High Street.
c1960 – c1972 (Heys [Confectioners] Ltd.) (O. R. Seaman) (S. Barnard)
Three confectionery businesses are listed in the directories: 1960 – Heys [Confectioners] Ltd., 1966 – O. R. Seaman, and 1972 – S. Barnard.
No. 4a c1925 – 1973 (Lown & Capps)
The printers Lown & Capps are listed at No. 4a in Kelly’s Directory for 1925 as ‘Lown & Capps, printers, bookbinders and commercial stationers, 4a High Street’ and were still listed here in the 1973 directory (Kelly).
No. 4b c1946 (John Norman)
The photographer John Norman is not listed here in the directories but placed an advertisement in the Lynn News & Advertiser on 21st June 1946:-
‘JOHN NORMAN, Photographer. High-Class Portraiture, Children, Weddings, etc. 4B HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.’
He was an accomplished artist and nine costume sketches for the Lynn Players production of ‘Wuthering Heights’ were reproduced in the newspaper on 25th March 1947. By 1951, he had moved to premises at 47, St. James’ Street and was listed as ‘Studio John Norman’ in directories up to and including 1972.
No. 4 c1970/1 (Barnards)
Barnards the confectioners were listed here in 1970/1 (Yates), and in 1973 and 1974 (Kelly).