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Red Lion Inn, Pontefract, designs for alterations and extensions, and for a new facade, 1776, as executed (4)

Signed and dated

  • 1776


Adam’s scheme for alterations to the Red Lion Inn, Pontefract, form part of several commissions for Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Bt. (1739-1785). Winn first employed Adam in 1765 in the monumental task of rebuilding Nostell Priory, a project begun more than three decades earlier under the gentleman architect Colonel James Moyer. Winn would prove to be a substantial patron to Adam, and indeed one of his longest standing. Alongside an additional commission for Winn’s London townhouse at 11 St James’s Square, Adam would work continuously on Nostell Priory and its surrounding estate until Sir Rowland Winn’s unexpected death in a carriage accident on 20th February 1785.

Adam’s commission for this scheme for alterations to a fifteenth-century coaching inn, the Red Lion in Pontefract, dates from 1776. This happens to coincide with further designs produced for Winn which relate to a number of buildings surrounding the Nostell estate. Adam’s alterations to the Red Lion would include the construction of a new seven-bay façade to South Street, and extensive ballroom with music gallery at first floor, and the addition of a second storey to include further bedrooms. To the west of the main building, with an entrance to South Street, Adam proposed space for a china shop with self-contained rooms above. To the east he constructed a carriage arch, leading through to the courtyard beyond. Further to this Adam’s designs proposed extensions to the rear of the building, alongside the construction of new kitchen offices, a stable block and brew house. The decision to undertake such substantial alterations at the Red Lion Inn was perhaps instigated by Winn’s continued political interest in Pontefract and the surrounding area.

The Red Lion Inn continues in use as the Red Lion Hotel, Pontefract, and the building maintains Adam’s South Street façade, although it is without its single-bay west wing. The interiors have undergone significant alterations; an Adam staircase, a number of eighteenth-century doors and a chimneypiece in the Adam style are the few surviving elements. An additional Adam drawing for the south façade of the inn survives in the National Trust collection at Nostell Priory.

See also: Nostell Priory, Wakefield; 11 St. James's Square, London

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 26, 91; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 32, 51-52; Nostell Priory and Parkland, National Trust Guide, 2008, pp.54-58; F. Sands, Robert Adam's London, 2016, pp. 130-34; R. Harman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire West Riding: Shefield and the South, 2017, p.437; ‘WINN, Sir Rowland, 5th Bt. (1739-85), of Nostell Priory, nr. Pontefract, Yorks.’, www.historyofparliamentonline.org; ‘Red Lion Hotel’, www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nostell (accessed June 2018)

Anna McAlaney, 2018



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Contents of Red Lion Inn, Pontefract, designs for alterations and extensions, and for a new facade, 1776, as executed (4)