Red Lion Token
This medal or token was struck to commemorate the pulling down of the Red Lion pub in West Street, Smithfield on 12th August 1844.
West Street, formerly Chick Lane, started a few yards from our premises at 6&7 West Smithfield, and ran due west from the north-west corner of the old market to the Fleet River.
The medal reads:
(ob) Formerly the Red Lion public house West St Smithfield
(rv) The resort of the notorious housebreaker Jack Sheppard and other noted characters. Pulled down Augt 12th 1844
Diameter 7/8 in (22mm).
Walter Thornbury, the author of "Old and New London" written between 1872-78, described the Red Lion as:
"supposed to have been built about three hundred years. It was once known as the Red Lion Tavern, but for the century preceding its destruction it was used as a lodging-house, and was the resort of thieves……………….From its remarkable adaptation as a hiding-place, with its various means of escape, it was a curious habitation. Its dark closets, trap-doors, sliding panels, and secret recesses rendered it one of the most secure places for robbery and murder…………….It was said to have been the rendezvous, and often the hiding-place, of Jack Sheppard and Jerry Abershaw; and the place looked as if many a foul deed had been there planned and decided on, the sewer or ditch receiving and floating away anything thrown into it.”
Jack Sheppard (4 March 1702 – 16 November 1724) was a notorious English robber in 18th-century London. Born into a poor family, he was apprenticed as a carpenter but took to theft and burglary in 1723, with little more than a year of his training to complete. He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years.
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