Old Red LionThe Old Red Lion, in Islington, London — a well-known theatre pub — celebrates its 600th anniversary this year and the team currently running it are trying to research more about its past.

While the theatre is one of London’s oldest pub theatres, opening its doors in 1979, there has been pub on the site continuously since 1415.

The Old Red Lion has played an important part in Islington’s history. It was here that Thomas Paine sat down to work on The Rights of Man, and where Karl Marx, William Hogarth, Dr Johnson, Charles Dickens and many more famous characters from history would enjoy a tipple. It’s been a meeting place for the British Communist party, a boxing ring, and a watering hole for the famous and the infamous alike.

A spokesperson for the pub said: “We’re undertaking a major research project into the pub’s long history, exploring the heroes and the villains, the successful and the salacious that have made its past so colourful. We’re undertaking archival research to discover documentary evidence for the claimed founding date of 1415, and will be publishing our findings online and in an exhibition within the venue.

“We’ve already dated the pub back to the 1500s and welcome any challenges to our contention that it is the oldest surviving and serving pub site in London!”

“The theatre will be holding its own celebration with RedFest 600, commissioning a total of six brand new short plays to reflect on each century of the pub’s existence. We’ve opened up a call for submissions and are hoping to attract new talent as well as some of the brilliant theatre makers who regularly make the Old Red Lion their home.

“Redfest 600 will be running throughout the month of June, with performances of these new plays on Sunday and Monday evenings, building to a final gala performance of a new work written in response to the entire 600-year history.

To contact the Red Lion team, e-mail info@oldredliontheatre.co.uk

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