The Golden Lion,

GOLDEN LION  ( new )


1687 PETER LYON     The early history of this site goes back to the 17th century when it consisted of a farm house and five fields lying between the main road and the brook totalling approximately eighteen statute acres. It was then in the possession of PETER LYON by a lease of 1687.


1726 THOMAS GROUNDS  The lease was renewed in 1726 to THOMAS GROUNDS of Rainford, yeoman, increased in area to twenty three acres by the addition of three fields belonging to Widow Lyon.


1746 JONATHAN GROUNDS  Thomas Grounds died in 1746 and the farm was inherited by JONATHAN GROUNDS, the eldest of his two sons. 


1768 JOHN BRAIN JOHN BRAIN, a Staffordshire man and innkeeper, first appears in Rainford in 1733 when he and his wife Mary were ordered to appear for keeping an irregular house on the Sabbath day”.

In 1751 his wife Mary died and he remarried in 1755 to Susanna Bradley. He was Chapel Warden from 1752 to 55 and when he took an apprentice in 1767 he had become a malster and brewer.

Whether he was occupying this farm house or elsewhere as an inn or where he had his malt house and brewery has not been established but in 1768 he renewed the lease of the “dwelling house out-housing and a cottage with the several parcels of land formerly held by Jonathan Grounds.

Twelve months later John and Susanna built the grand Georgian building we know as the Golden Lion today. This is attested by the inscription on the front, almost under the eaves.


  J 1769 S

Whether they actually occupied their new house we do not know for in October 1774 John died leaving “sundry lands tenements and premises in the several Townships of Rainford, Upholland and Ormskirk to his wife Susanna for life and then to his own and his wife’s brothers and sisters. It is possible that the house was then occupied by RICHARD HOLDEN and his wife Esther.


1774 RICHARD HOLDEN   Richard Holden was a schoolmaster and the Liverpool General Advertiser of December 1769 carried an advertisement for his private boarding school in Castle Street, Liverpool. He came to Rainford sometime shortly before 1774 and opened a similar establishment in the large house so convenient for that purpose.

Unfortunately Richard died in January 1775, aged 57, and his gravestone in the Parish Church graveyard tells us that he was Master of the Academy in Rainford. His widow Esther continued with the school, taking day scholars and boarders, she attending to the domestic arrangements and employing the Reverend John Braithwaite, an Anglican clergyman, to conduct their studies.

Following the death of Susanna Brain the leasehold fell to her, and her late husband’s, brothers and sisters and in December 1784 the leasehold of the premises was put up for auction, the highest bid of £405 being made by Mr JOHN HOLDEN who became the next owner.


1785 JOHN HOLDEN  John Holden, son of Richard and Esther, was married to Jane Brownbill the daughter of George and Dulcibella Brownbill licensee of the Bowling Green Inn (now Derby Arms). They had one son, Johnson, and two daughters Jane and Elizabeth.

John was described as schoolmaster presumably in charge of tuition at the established Academy. Sadly in less than ten years time both Jane and John had died at the early ages of 25 and 39 respectively, leaving their young children in the care of their grandmother Esther.


1794 ESTHER HOLDEN Control of the premises now rested with John’s executors until his children became of age. Grandmother Esther occupied until her death in 1800 when their widowed maternal grandmother DULCIBELLA BROWNBILL


1800 DULCIBELLA BROWNBILL Dulcibella Brownbill then took over the reins for the next ten years followed by her spinster daughter, also DULCIBELLA.


1810 DULCIBELLA BROWNBILL Johnson Holden became a wine merchant in Liverpool and his two sisters remained unmarried and still living at the house with their aunt Dulcibella until about the 1830’s. It is very probable that the school ceased to exist with the death of John Holden in 1794 as it was not included in a return of schools made in 1825.


c 1835 MARY ROBINSON The boarding school, now for girls only, appears to have been re-established here by Mary Robinson the daughter of the Rev. Mathew Robinson, late minister at Rainford Chapel. In 1841, assisted by two teachers, she had 16 boarding scholars and possibly day scholars also.


1850 HANNAH PHILIPS Hannah Philips, one of the assistant teachers, became Mistress of the school after the death of Mary Robinson in 1850. A native of Cornwall, she and her younger sister, Caroline, continued the school until about 1871 but apparently with dwindling numbers of boarding scholars.

In 1871 Elizabeth Holden, the surviving daughter of John, died at the age of 87 and the lease taken out by her father expired. Hannah and her sister vacated the premises shortly afterwards.


1876 JAMES BIRCHALL  This was the time when JAMES BIRCHALL vacated the original Golden Lion and transferred his licence and his butchers shop to the present building. James and his wife Mary took with them the name of their previous inn and were able to adapt the old sign board and set it over the entrance to the new premises. James died  in 1887 leaving his widow Mary to carry on the business.


1887 MARY BIRCHALL   With no children to help her Mary successfully ran this large public house alone for over twenty years. She was approaching eighty years of age when she was obliged to retire in 1911 and the licence was then granted to JAMES HALL.


1911 JAMES HALL James Hall was the grandson of James and Sarah Hall, former licensee of the Derby Arms. When applying for the licence James stated that the licence had been in his family for over 100 years. This was true by virtue of the fact that his father Thomas had married Margaret Birchall the daughter of William Birchall who had held the licence for the original Golden Lion.

James and his wife Willelmina stayed here until he died in 1930 and his wife left soon after. The sudden vacancy was filled by JOHN BALL.


1930 JOHN BALL  John and his wife Sarah retired had retired from the Eagle and Child in 1913 and built a house in Mossborough Road. Sarah died in 1915 and John soon remarried to Mary Wildman. What prompted John to return to the licenced trade at the age of 68 we shall never know. His stay was very short for in July the following year he died.


1931 MARY BALL  John’s widow Mary will be remembered by many older residents as landlady of the “Lion”; as also will her son John, killed in action in 1944. Mary occupied the public house for some 28 years before handing over to the next tenant, THOMAS COWING.


1959 THOMAS COWING  Thomas and his wife were also long term tenants here only relinquishing the licence in 1982, two years after Thomas had died.

Since their departure the building has seen much alteration and now boasts an adjoining restaurant, all under a succession of short stay landlords.