The Golden Lion

The Golden Lion public House on Lancaster’s Moor Lane shares a name with many others across the kingdom. A cursory internet search will reveal a great many such establishments, each offering honest fayre and good ale. The name probably comes from the royal coat of arms in which three lions, originally leopards, walk past while facing the observer. These lions passant guardant came from the badge of Richard the Lionheart. Publicans around the land rejoiced in demonstrating their loyalty to kings and kingdom by incorporating their symbols into their business names.

Lancaster’s Golden Lion is rather more poignant. It stands at the town’s historic boundary and was the last watering hole passed by condemned felons as they trundled along in carts from the Castle’s assize courts to the moorland above the town where stood the gallows. For the best part of 800 years, prisoners took this macabre route to their deaths. That place of execution is now, ironically, either Williamson’s Park or the children’s play area in the university grounds. Custom dictated that the condemned were allowed one last drink at the Golden Lion. It is still sometimes called the Whittle, on account of one of the so-called Pendle Witches who stopped here for her last beverage in 1612. The current building is late seventeenth-century, but a pub has been here since the fifteenth. A last drink before the cart rattled up the hill towards death was the a prisoner’s last relief.

None of us may expect to be executed, though regrettably countless Christians around the world will be. Yet each one of us will die. The decree of judgement pronounced at Eden resulted in a creation-wide death sentence. Some take up jogging or press-ups to delay its coming; others take pills and precautions to adjourn the inevitable. Yet the Christian, though not exempt from the dying of the body, is afforded fellowship and refreshment before his time. The Golden Lion- not some pub in Lancaster- but the glorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah- attends to the dying believer. Stephen in Acts 7, before he died

gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God 

The Lord arose to receive His beloved servant. He had previously promised:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3).

Dying is often unpleasant and demeaning. Even the believer fears the process and the length of time it takes. Yet the Lord Jesus will supply all your needs, both now and then.

Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:5

No Christian dies alone and no Christian goes to death without first receiving refreshment from the Golden Lion.