A WONDERFUL mural on a wall of the ‘Snug’ of the Red Lion pub in Penn depicts the history of Penn & Tylers Green (PTG), and much more. It is well worth a visit to the pub to see this, but of course you would be expected to partake of some of the refreshment which is available there!

How it came about

Having refurbished much of the pub interior by 2021, Louise Holdcroft, the licensee of the Red Lion felt that decorating the snug area was the final piece of puzzle. A connection to local muralist Diane Stewart through her then manager meant there was an opportunity to do something a bit different. After conversations between the two, the idea of a library-style bookcase depicting the history of Penn and Tylers Green was formed. Every book on the shelf relates to a person of interest or historic event within the village.


The Latin meaning of the word ‘mural’ is ‘wall painting’. Murals can be traced back to prehistoric times in the form of cave paintings and can be found in every continent except Antarctica. Today, murals can be defined as any piece of artwork that is created directly on a flat wall or ceiling . A style of painting popularised by master artists such as Leonardo da Vinci.

Muralism saw a huge spike in popularity around the early 1900s. Again in the 1980s, initiated by the works of mural artists like Graham Rust, trompe-l’œil, which is a French term for “fool” or “trick the eye”, painting has experienced a renaissance in private and public buildings in Europe. Murals today are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media.

Probably the most well-known mural in this country is that by Rex Whistler in Mottisfont House, a National Trust property in Hampshire. Whistler was commissioned to create a unique backdrop for Mottisfont’s glamorous guests in the saloon. The results were his spectacular trompe l’oeil murals, light-heartedly reflecting Mottisfont’s medieval origins. Despite appearances, there are no columns, ledges or moulded plasterwork in this room, the walls of which are so cunningly painted that they appear to have all these gothic decorations

The muralist

Diane Stewart was born in Malta, her father worked for Barclays International being posted to and moving the family to various countries. She had a peripatetic childhood, starting her schooling in Jerusalem, before the family moved to Tel Aviv, then to Barbados, before she came to England to complete her education. Throughout her travels she would not go anywhere without her sketchpad and coloured pencils.

So all-in-all Diane had a fantastic childhood, visiting some incredible places and meeting all sorts of interesting people. Her plan was always to go to Art College, but whilst still at school she was offered a position on the Marks & Spencer’s Junior Management trainee scheme. She decided it was too good an offer to turn down. So in 1976 she joined M & S Head Office in Baker Street, enjoying ten years as a selector in the children’s and babywear buying departments. She married in 1980 and shortly afterwards moved to PTG.

After her first child was born in 1986, Diane decided that she wanted work which she could flexibly combine with raising a family. Becoming a freelance muralist was the perfect solution. She trained under the late Alastair McDonald, of whom Diane has said : “I simply couldn’t believe my luck when he asked me to work with him on a massive indoor swimming pool mural project for the Sultan of Brunei, in one of his palaces in Bishop’s Avenue, Hampstead.”

Since then the main body of her work has been domestic private clients, with the exception of a restaurant in Little Chalfont and an eight-walled “Memories” project, in the dementia unit of a care home in Windsor, funded by the Royal Borough.

The Red Lion Mural

Diane takes up the story: “I was thrilled to be commissioned by Louise to paint a library mural on one wall of ‘The Snug’ of the Red Lion. It is really a huge bookcase trompe l’oeil, (French expression for “trick of the eye”, flat paint giving the visual illusion of a three dimensional object).

“The painted book spines, were to reflect the history of Penn & Tylers Green and to include noteworthy, famous or interesting residents of the villages past and present. I was asked to include bits of paraphernalia on the shelves, just like a bookcase in real-life.

“After two months of research and frequent sessions with our two local historians, Miles Green and Ron Saunders, I was able to come up with enough information to fill the entire room. I therefore had to refine my findings down to 240 book spines, which is what I estimated would fit in the space. I then arranged my research into categories, ie History, Actors, Authors, Sportspeople etc, then chronologically within each.

“I began by painting the shelving and woodwork, painting around the two existing light fittings. I simply had to include a cheeky little mouse! I then painted the book spines on the shelves, in chronological order. Just a few words on each spine, words which I thought would engage people when looking at the mural.

“The historical section starts with Alfred the Great, Yes, the King who burnt the cakes! He owned a 150 acre deer park in Penn hence names such as King’s Ride, The Chase etc.

“The gorgeous, naive style Penn tiles are accurate in colour and design, as is the design of the painted lace. The old houses (built between 1185 and 1849) are all a pale brick colour. For royalty I used blue, for religious themes-purple, for wars - black, and for the school set up by Edmund Burke for the sons of destitute French nobility, blue, white and red. Finally, for transport I used brown and cream, as would have been the coaches’ colours when the trains first came to Beaconsfield. I finished the history section with a portrait of the Queen at her Jubilee in 2022.”

Basically the mural is a pictorial record of events and people who have lived in Penn & Tylers Green through the ages. Every book spine has its own story to tell. The information is easily accessed through this link: https://pennandtylersgreen.org.uk/red-lion-mural/

More amazing works

Bucks Free Press: Top: As part of a ‘Memories Project’ Centre left: An Italian scene, Alastair Macdonald. Centre right: Scene for a kitchen wall, Diane Stewart. Left: A boutique hotel in Italy, Alastair Macdonal Above: A jousting scene for a child’s bedroom wallTop: As part of a ‘Memories Project’ Centre left: An Italian scene, Alastair Macdonald. Centre right: Scene for a kitchen wall, Diane Stewart. Left: A boutique hotel in Italy, Alastair Macdonal Above: A jousting scene for a child’s bedroom wall (Image: NA)Top: As part of a ‘Memories Project’
Centre left: An Italian scene, Alastair Macdonald. 
Centre right: Scene for a kitchen wall, Diane Stewart. 
Left: A boutique hotel in Italy, Alastair Macdonal
Above: A jousting scene for a child’s bedroom wall