The Red Lion Inn was listed at Grade II by English Heritage on 29 September 1972. This defines it as a "nationally important" building of "special interest". As of February 2001, it was one of 119 Grade II listed buildings, and 106 listed buildings of all grades, in the district of Adur.

The building is mostly 18th-century, although 16th-century origins have been claimed. It is a low-set, long building in three parts: the central section is the original cottage, and 18th- and 19th-century additions stand to the left (north) and right (south). The exterior walls are plaster-coated, and the roofs are laid with tiles of Horsham stone. The building is roughly L-shaped, with a projecting wing at the north end. Only the centre section is higher than one storey, and even it does not reach a full two-storey height. Furthermore, the building is now set below the level of the road, which has been raised since its origins as a village track. The centre section has a three casement window range, and there are three sashes elsewhere (two on the façade of the southward extension and one in the cross-wing to the north). The substantial entrance door is set in a timbered porch; both were added in the 20th century.

A tollbridge to the west bank of the Adur at Lancing was built in 1782. This, and the diversion of the road eastwards to the seaside resort of Brighton, caused the focus of the village to move westwards, towards the river and the west end of the old village street. A 16th century cottage, apparently part of a former monastery, stood on the old road near the tollbridge. It was converted into an inn under the sign of the Red Lion. The building was extended and lengthened to the north and south later in the 18th century and in the 19th century. It developed trade as a coaching inn serving the roads towards Brighton (eastwards) and Steyning (northwards, along the bank of the river). In the 1920s, the main road to Brighton was realigned again: thereafter it ran immediately south of the inn.

The Red Lion Inn is in the ancient Old Shoreham part of the town of Shoreham-by-Sea. Established in the 16th century in part of a former monastery and cottage in the centre of Old Shoreham, opposite the village's former tollbridge, it was extended in the 19th century and became central to life in the old village. Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem Rizpah is based on events at the inn in the 19th century which resulted in the capture and execution of some robbers.

Old Shoreham developed on the east bank of the River Adur, in the Saxon period; longstanding claims that it was the site (Cymenshore) of the first King of the South Saxons Ælle's arrival in 477 have been disproved. The village was successful: a large church, dedicated to St Nicolas, was founded in about 900 and extended in 1140, and there were 76 residents at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086.

  • 1832 – 1859 Harry Coddington
  • 1866 – 1878 Henry Cuddington
  • 1890 – 1901 James Caddington
  • 1905 – Charles Cuddington
  • 1913 – 1918 Frank shepherd
  • 1930 – Walter Stoner
  • 1938 – Harry Edward Firth-Kettle