This is the pub that my Mum & Dad ran in Finmere, Oxfordshire for about seven years.

When they were staying with us earlier this year they told us that the pub was gutted by a fire in the thatch this last February.

A few weeks ago I came across this site, set up by Andy Boddington, a Finmere resident.  In addition to a wealth of information about Finmere and the next-door hamlet of Little Tingewick (just across the border in Buckinghamshire), the site also has photos of the fire, showing the extensive damage done to this beautiful old pub.

This is a disaster for the village.  The Red Lion was the only surviving pub serving the 400 or so locals.  There were two pubs in the village, but the King's Head closed down in 1999.  With The Red Lion gone too, the social heart of the village has been torn out.

Andy's site also features other photos of Finmere and the pub in happier days, including this shot:

That's my Mum in the front row centre, surrounded by friends, regulars, and a few family members - all set to head off to Royal Ascot for Ladies' Day, some time around 1995, at a guess. Dad and Kieron are in the back row.

Damn! we had some good times in that place.  Seven hard but very happy years for all of us. 

Nights when we had the musicians in, raising the roof with songs and laughter. Mom's roast beef sunday lunches - best in the county. The finest Guinness ever served outside the Republic. Late nights; a few fights.  Ah, the craic was mighty, as they say.

It was just a building, I know - but it still hurts.

[Clarification: Mum & Da sold The Red Lion and retired in, I think, '96 or '97. Sorry if I confused anyone. They weren't still in the pub at the time of the fire - but it's still upsetting for a' that.]