The mystery of The Golden Lion and The Golden Bee

The Golden Bee c.1984.

The Golden Bee is the ‘English pub’ at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, USA, and it has intriguing origins.

We can’t recall how we first heard of it but the part of the offi­cial ori­gin sto­ry that grabbed our atten­tion was this:

You’ll feel trans­port­ed right to jol­ly old Eng­land at the Gold­en Bee, The Broadmoor’s 19th cen­tu­ry British Pub. The pub was actu­al­ly trans­ferred to The Broad­moor pan­el by pan­el, direct­ly from the UK.

So, this isn’t a recre­ation or a sham – it’s a real Eng­lish pub inte­ri­or relo­cat­ed across the Atlantic.

How did this come to hap­pen? And which pub did the fix­tures and fit­tings come from?

There’s some­thing a lit­tle excit­ing about the thought that a Lon­don pub long-demol­ished or con­vert­ed might live on across the ocean, still serv­ing some­thing like its orig­i­nal func­tion.

Our usu­al research avenues didn’t turn up much but for­tu­nate­ly, the Broad­moor, being some­thing of an insti­tu­tion, has an archivist, Jamey Hast­ings, with whom we were able to get in touch. Jamey very kind­ly pro­vid­ed copies of his­toric press and pub­lic­i­ty notices which, while still con­tra­dic­to­ry and con­fus­ing at times, do pro­vide use­ful infor­ma­tion from close to the moment.

This from the Col­orado Springs Gazette for 16 Feb­ru­ary 1964 gives a good sum­ma­ry of the sto­ry and feels as it might be the truth pure­ly because it feels less neat and roman­tic than the typ­i­cal mar­ket­ing blurb:

The fix­tures, the bar and acces­sories are those of an Eng­lish pub built in the 1880s and lat­er brought to this coun­try intact and set up in New York. When the Broad­moor decid­ed to build the Bee, it asked W. and J. Sloane and Co. to find it some authen­tic pub fix­tures.

The firm did more than that. It found an entire pub, cov­ered with dust, in a ware­house in New York… The pub itself had been oper­at­ed at one time in an area near the old Lon­don Ter­race sec­tion of New York, once one of the fash­ion­able res­i­den­tial dis­tricts of the city.

Anoth­er arti­cle, from just after the pub launched in 1961, says more or less the same only it spec­i­fies that the pub inte­ri­or went from Eng­land to New York as far back as the 19th cen­tu­ry.

So far, so good, until we come to a sim­i­lar­ly cred­i­ble sto­ry from Broad­moor Bonan­za for spring 1984, which sug­gests a slight­ly dif­fer­ent chain of events:

Forty years ago, The Gold­en Lion was a pop­u­lar 17th cen­tu­ry pub locat­ed near the Thames Riv­er in Lon­don. It’s not in Lon­don any­more but it’s still pop­u­lar. Now called The Gold­en Bee, it’s one of The Broad­moor’s tru­ly remark­able tra­di­tions… In the mid-1950s, Thay­er Tutt, Hon­orary Chair­man of The Broad­moor, heard about an authen­tic Eng­lish pub for sale from a friend, Sir Guy Bracewell Smith, who was own­er of the Park Lane Hotel in Lon­don. The pub was owned by the Whit­bread House and they want­ed to sell it to an Amer­i­can busi­ness to aid in pub­li­ciz­ing their ale in the Unit­ed States. Through the Broad­moor’s inte­ri­or design firm, W.J. Sloan, and its rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Leslie Dorsey, Mr Tutt arranged to pur­chase the dis­man­tled bar for $20,000.

The sug­ges­tion here, then, is that the pub was old­er by about two hun­dred years, was still intact in Lon­don as late as the post-war peri­od, and was owned by Whit­bread. That’s plen­ty of con­crete infor­ma­tion to latch on to.

So far, though… Noth­ing. We have a pret­ty good run of 1950s edi­tions of The House of Whit­bread, the brewery’s in-house mag­a­zine, and can’t find any men­tion of this sale. It’s not men­tioned in any of the offi­cial his­to­ries to which we have access, either. Nor does A Month­ly Bul­letin seem to cov­er it in any of the issues we’ve got.

One item we did dig up is in The Tav­erns in the Town by H.E. Popham, from 1937:

In the Ful­ham High Street is The Gold­en Lion, a fifty-year-old house stand­ing on the site of a very ancient tav­ern of the same name. The orig­i­nal build­ing, which dat­ed back to the reign of Hen­ry VII, is said to have been the res­i­dence of Bish­op Bon­ner… On the pulling down of the orig­i­nal Gold­en Lion, the pan­elling was pur­chased by Lord Ellen­bor­ough for the fit­ting up of his res­i­dence, Southam House, near Chel­tenham.

So there was at least one his­toric Gold­en Lion inte­ri­or divorced from its orig­i­nal loca­tion and float­ing around.

At this stage, we’re left with more ques­tions with answers.

Because all the sources are Amer­i­can, and because we sus­pect a cer­tain amount of obfus­ca­tion, it’s cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble the details might have got man­gled – that the orig­i­nal pub wasn’t called The Gold­en Lion, or wasn’t in Lon­don, or wasn’t owned by Whit­bread. Although that last seems the most like­ly to be true.

So… Does any­one have any evi­dence that might unlock this? Not guess­work but ref­er­ences to news­pa­pers, books, mag­a­zines or oth­er papers that might pin this down.

Fur­ther read­ing: Gary Gill­man has been writ­ing exten­sive­ly about the idea of the Eng­lish pub in Amer­i­can cul­ture for some time, as in this post. Do check out his back cat­a­logue.

5 thoughts on “The mystery of The Golden Lion and The Golden Bee”

  1. the Broad­moor, being some­thing of an insti­tu­tion

    !!! Did the authen­ti­cal­ly British fix­tures and fit­tings include one of those “You don’t have to be mad to work here” signs?

    If that’s the pub inte­ri­or depict­ed, I have to say that it looks rather fake. The bar­rels labelled ‘port’ etc look far more fan­cy to me than a bar­rel that was actu­al­ly in use would do, and the con­vert­ed half-bar­rel let­tered with “The King – God bless him” is just down­right odd – how­ev­er loy­al you were, why would you put that mes­sage, in fair­ly expen­sive let­ter­ing, on a bar­rel? And, apart from any­thing else, if it’s gen­uine it has to date from before 1837 – in which case it’s in sus­pi­cious­ly good nick.

    Fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry, though – track­ing the sto­ry to its roots could be just as inter­est­ing as track­ing down the orig­i­nal Gold­en Thingie.

    1. The bar­rel with ‘The King God Bless Him’ on is a Roy­al Navy rum tub (or a repro­duc­tion). Used to serve sailors rum ration out of. They all have some sort of patri­ot­ic mot­to on them.

    2. I have seen casks like that in situ in pubs, though sad­ly not in use. They are display/dispense casks, not trans­port casks. Almost every­thing in Vic­to­ri­an pubs was embell­ished and osten­ta­tious­ly “fan­cy”. I’m not say­ing they are def­i­nite­ly real but I also see no rea­son they have to be fake.

      I won­der how com­mon this sort of thing was. We had a case in Glas­gow, the St Mun­go Vint­ners, where the inte­ri­or was stripped out when the pub closed in 1974, with the inten­tion of using it in a pub in the US. The Glas­gow Guz­zler had the sto­ry a few years ago when the inte­ri­or was redis­cov­ered in a ware­house in Cal­i­for­nia, hav­ing been shipped over and then for some rea­son nev­er used: https://issuu.com/glasgowguzzler/docs/the_guzzler_summer_2016/6

  2. The orig­i­nal Ful­ham Gold­en Lion with the wain­scot­ting was pulled down in 1836, which is when Lord Ellen­bor­ough bought the pan­elling for Southam House: the Gen­tle­man’s Mag­a­zine car­ried a sto­ry on it in 1838 that you can see here: http://bit.ly/goldenliongentmag . Southam House is, today, the Ellen­bor­ough Park Hotel, and looks pret­ty pan­elled up still (see here http://bit.ly/EllenboroParkpanels ) so I doubt the pan­elling Lord Ellen­bor­ough bought is the source for the Gold­en Bee.

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