A description of the Peacock and Royal and the Red Lion in 1904 by an American visitor Josephine Tozier.
The Peacock and Royal.
The front is decorated by bright flowers and long trailing vines growing from the window-boxes on the balconies, and above all is a most gorgeous sign of the most gorgeous of birds, from which it takes its name. We ate our comfortable little dinner in the coffee-room……it was nine o'clock before we left the table. We were too tired to explore Boston's winding ways, and, as it was too early for bed, I had this time secured a large front room looking over the market-place, and my sleepy friends soon found entertainment there.
The sound of a twanging banjo, which came from beneath our window, gathered the few stragglers in the market-place into a circle around the door of the Peacock. We could not see the musician from our window, but he broke forth as soon as the audience had gathered into the usual sentimental ballad dear to English ears. Some boys, with dogs at their heels, formed the outside of the meagre crowd, and then from a side street came belated mothers, pushing their babies home in perambulators. Polly says that at no hour in the twenty-four are English streets entirely free from perambulators, and, late as it was, three of these useful carriages joined the circle, the mothers, in true Boston fashion, being unable to resist music. The audience grew larger and the circle wider; the songs were succeeded by dialogues, and coppers rained plentifully into the collector's hand, until a baby set up an opposition concert, and an enterprising dog was encouraged by the noise to fight his four-legged neighbour. During the rumpus which succeeded, the musicians vanished. The dog riot was finally quelled, the babies trundled home, and the market-place in a few minutes was absolutely deserted for the night.
The Red Lion.
The Red Lion Inn, which faces the Narrow Bargate, has a more venerable exterior than the Peacock, but a decidedly decayed interior. It owns to the age of four hundred years, so no wonder that it is neither very clean nor very modern at the present time. It was formerly the property of one of the Boston guilds, and in the inn yard strolling players were wont to perform for the delight of all Boston.
There is still a very stern, solemn, Puritanical look about the dull little Holland-like city, in spite of the numerous houses of entertainment. Some of these rejoice in extraordinary names. There is "The Axe and Cleaver," "The Loggerhead," "The Indian Queen," "The Ram," "The Whale," "The Unicorn," "The Red Cow," "The Blue Lion," and "The Black Bull." They all furnish abundant liquid refreshment, with our favourite "The Rum Puncheon," and the picturesque "Angel." Even the streets have delicious names: "Paradise Lane," and "Pinfold Alley," "Liquor Pond Street" and "Silver Street," "The Worm Gate," "The Bar Gate," Wide, and Narrow, and "Robin Hood's Walk." There is "Pump Square," there is "Fish Toft Road," and in quaint "Spain Lane," in a house since demolished, until she was fourteen years old, lived Jean Ingelow, the writer. Boston is proud of its literary celebrities, and has erected a statue to Herbert Ingram, the founder of the London Illustrated News.