Golden Lion House was built in 1768 as a mansion for Nicholas Tripe, a local surgeon. It became an inn in 1795, and was a busy coaching house during the 19th century, located on the busy main route from Devon to London.It was also frequented by sailors from local ports, and you can still see the entrance to a tunnel in our cellars used to evade the press gangs who came looking for recruits. Arthur Conan Doyle is believed to have stayed at the Golden Lion Hotel a hundred years ago whilst visiting Dartmoor to research his Sherlock Holmes novel "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (although most hotels on the moor make a similar claim!).
In 1984, the Golden Lion Hotel, Devon was chosen as the Loony Party WIG (World International Global) HQ. Party leader Screaming Lord Sutch, a long time friend of the hotel's owner Alan Hope, declared: "'The Golden Lion is the rock on which the Official Monster Raving Loony Party is founded." The annual party conference was held at the hotel in September each year. Cabinet meetings were held in a wardrobe in the garden! Alan Hope became the first Monster Raving Loony councillor in 1987 when he became a member of Ashburton Town Council, and became the first Loony mayor in 1998.In 2000, the Golden Lion Hotel closed and Alan Hope moved to Hampshire where he still leads the Monster Raving Loony Party.
All pictures from "The Pubs and Inns of Ashburton" (Obelisk Publications 1995) courtesy of Pete Webb and the Ashburton Museum.