68 Newland Street
The original house dated from the 16th century. In 1608 it was described as “one tenement with appurtenances on the north side of Newland Street (a house), two barns with a malthouse, one stable and garden”. The large building behind (4 Guithavon Street) was usually in the same ownership and was probably a cloth warehouse some of the time.
George Armond and his family came to buy and live in the house in about 1550, and called the house “Armonds”. They were prosperous gentlemen and clothiers. Briefly after 1632 the property was handed on through the female members of the family, which led to the Jacksons, also prominent clothiers, until the third John Jackson died in 1739. His widow Elizabeth then married grocer Jacob Pattisson, from a well-known local family. The Pattissons then owned the property until their bankruptcy in 1859.
This shows that the building was significant in Witham’s cloth industry, that it always had important owners, and that, unusually, they descended through one family.
Jacob Pattisson modernised the building by adding a black and red brick front as was fashionable in the 18th century. He also set it up as the Lion Inn (sometimes called the Red Lion), making his relative Joseph Pattisson the first landlord (there had been an earlier Lion Inn at what is now number 67).
Like the other inns in Witham, the Lion had a good social life. For instance, in 1765, there was a ‘Ball for young Gentlemen and Ladies at the Assembly Room at the Red Lion’.
But in about 1800 the Lion closed. In 1842 the land behind it, called the Lion Fields, was given by the Pattissons to provide space for All Saints church and the National Schools. The left hand side of the building, and the yard, were laid into the new street called Guithavon Street. Previously there had only been a footpath there.
Meanwhile the Black Boy Inn, now number 7 Newland Street, became Witham’s third Lion Inn when it adopted the name of “the Red Lion”, which it still bears today.
The Town Clock was originally hung here, but after the building was sold the clock was moved to the Constitutional Club, which then stood in front of the URC further down the street, until that burned down in 1910, when it was replaced by a new similar clock on what is now the Town Hall.
The original building here was Listed Grade II as a part of the buildings adjacent in Guithavon Street. However, it became empty and unoccupied from 1991 and by the end of the century it was derelict and in a dangerous condition. When the internal timbers failed in 1999 the building was demolished and a new structure following the design and appearance of the original was built and opened as a restaurant in 2001. Since then the building has been a number of different restaurants until 2017 when it was refurbished to become Burger Junkie which in turn closed in 2018. There is still a cellar connection to the original listed building next door.
Until 1991 the shop was Keith Prowse, a travel agent, and before that Farthings fruiterer and grocer. Prior to the Second World War, Bata Shoe Company occupied the premises, and before that it was a draper, Until 1929 it was occupied by the Pluck dynasty gentleman's outfitters, seen on many old photographs of the early part of the 20th century. Before the Pluck family were the Mayhews, who would have been there when the Witham Fairs were held in Newland Street and a greasy pole was situated outside the premises. On the evening of the second day of the fair, a leg of mutton was climbed for requiring no small amount of skill.
Since being rebuilt it has been a restaurant with a number of owners including Azzurro, Bar 68, Hold the Anchovies, and Burger Junkie, but opened as Gelato Temptations in August 2019.
Sources: Witham & Countryside Society; Janet Gyford; Cyril Taylor