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Glasshouse Inn GL17 0NN

In 1891 the Glasshouse Inn was a free house owned by Emma Haile. The lease had been secured twelve years later by the Vine Brewery in Ledbury (Lane, Bros & Bastow) although Emma Haile was still the owner. The annual rateable value in 1903 was £22.0s.0d. and the beer house closed at 10 pm. The Vine Brewery was acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery after the First World War in 1919.

The licence for the pub was transferred in the 1920’s from the original Glasshouse Inn which is now the private cottage opposite.

The name of the pub, and indeed the hamlet where the pub is located, commemorates the Flemish glassmakers who came to England in the reign of Elizabeth I. They were refugees from religious persecution, and many migrated to Gloucestershire in search of raw materials for their trade. The glassmakers were finally driven away by a series of measures beginning in the reign of James I, which denied them the wood for their furnaces.

Steve and Jill Pugh moved into the Glasshouse Inn in 1996. They had previously been landlords at the Red Lion in Huntley. Steve had been in the licensed trade all his life. He was born at the old Leather Bottle Inn in Archdeacon Street, Gloucester.

George Henderson, columnist in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper, wrote in September 1998: ‘Even today, the Glasshouse remains a wonderfully old-world pub with a timeless air that has survived the centuries which have wrought such appalling change elsewhere. Just soak in the evocative red tiled floor, open fire, decent cask ale and home-cooked food, and outside there’s a lovely garden with an old circular cider mill filled with flowers.’ Landlord Steve Pugh said, ‘It’s an absolutely beautiful pub and it’s been unchanged for years. People come from all over just to see what a traditional English country pub should be like and American’s especially love it.’

In February 2000 a new extension was opened at the Glasshouse Inn. Senior golf professional and former Ryder Cup captain Brian Huggett MBE, a regular customer at the Glasshouse officially opened the extra bar, improved kitchen facilities and added living accommodation. Care was taken to use traditional materials so that it complemented the style of the original building. Traditional Forest of Dean stone was used in the construction and heavy flags for the floor, 500-year-old oak beams and a salvaged old cherrywood bar were installed and supplied locally. Steve Pugh commented, ‘The builders have done a first-class job. I think they really enjoyed working with local materials on something that was out of the ordinary but completely in keeping. It is a tribute to local craftsmen.’

An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper in January 2003 gave this account of the Glasshouse Inn:

It was a Saturday night. Outside was all quiet. I feared the place was shut. It wasn’t. Opening the door, we stepped into the welcoming atmosphere of one of the county’s classic English country pubs. Simple wooden furniture, pictures of hunting scenes on the walls, constant chatter and occasional laughter providing the soundtrack to everyone’s evening out. A biker’s jacket was drying by the fire, families were gathered round tables, couples leaned toward each other in secluded corners and groups of merry-looking drinkers chattered and exchanged jokes at the end of the bar. After our meal we sat around the table, toasting ourselves besides the fire. We all relaxed in our chairs, glowing with that comfortable feeling of being well and truly satisfied.’

In February 2010 Forest of Dean District Council gave permission for the erection of three holiday chalets in the orchard at the back of the Glasshouse Inn. The original application was for the construction of five chalets. Steve Pugh said, ‘We get people from all over the country coming to May Hill and many of them want to stay but there is a shortage of accommodation.’

The English flag of St George is flown at the Glasshouse Inn for 364 days a year. Steve Pugh said, ‘I love my country. By doing it we mean no disrespect to anybody, it’s just something we like to do.’ The only day that it is not flown is on November 11th, when it is replaced by a Union flag to commemorate Armistice day.

The Glasshouse Inn enjoys an excellent reputation for good food, which attracts diners for miles around. Richard Ashcroft, local resident and singer with the band The Verve, took his friend Noel Gallagher of the band Oasis to the Glasshouse for a Sunday dinner in December 1998. According to the ‘Sun’ newspaper’s showbiz gossip page the celebrities were “looking even more miserable than normal when they were denied lunch at the pub”, which prompted a response from Steve Pugh who said that Richard Ashcroft had been to the pub before and knew that the Glasshouse didn’t serve food on Sundays.

A ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still graces the outside of the Glasshouse Inn and an ornamental bracket bearing the ‘Castle’ emblem of West Country Breweries houses the pub sign.

At the time of writing (May 2019), the Glasshouse Inn and Lodges are up for sale with an asking price of £1,300,000. As far as can be ascertained, referring to the latest internet comments, the pub is still trading.

Landlords at the Glasshouse Inn include:
1891 John Haile
1903,1939 Philip Smith
1967,1996 Ted and Geraldine Hulme
1996-2019 Steve and Jill Pugh

Royal Forest Inn, Edge End Road GL16 7DA

Mile End is a small village outside Coleford on the B4028. The area is sometimes referred to as Mitcheldean Lane End. The Royal Forest Inn is more popularly known as the Foresters.

Amos Jones and George Hale, colliers, of Broadwell Lane End, were summoned by Richard Edwards, landlord of the Royal Forest in Mile End. The prosecutor told the court that on Saturday 12th May 1901, the defendants came to the Royal Forest and asked Mr Edwards for beer which he refused because both Jones and Hale were the worse for liquor. He asked them to leave several times, but they would not do so, and commenced to use bad language. He eventually ejected Jones and when he was returning to the house he met Hale coming out. Both defendants continued to act disorderly when outside the house. The Chairman said that both Jones and Hale had been there before, and Amos Jones - who had a very bad record – would be fined £2 and 8 shillings costs, and George Hale would have to pay £1 and 8s.

According to the 1891 licensing book John Brown was owner and occupier and the pub was free of brewery tie. Classified as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £13.0s.0d. The Royal Foresters had been purchased by Arnold, Perrett & Co. (Wickwar Brewery) by 1903, when Charles Elsmore is recorded as landlord. However, contemporary Kelly’s directories from the years 1902 and 1906 list Richard Edwards as landlord, so the mention of Charles Elsmore is unexpected. The Gloucestershire directories seem to indicate that the Royal Forest was in the ownership of the Edwards family in 1885 which seems to contradict the 1891 listing of John Brown. More research is required to verify this information, and it is certainly not definitive. Closing time at the Royal Forest Inn was at 10 pm.

The Royal Forest Inn was put up for sale in 1937 and the property consisted of an area of three-quarters of an acre, together with a cottage and out-buildings. The estate of the Wickwar Brewery, including the Royal Forest Inn, passed into the ownership of the Cheltenham Original Brewery. The beers supplied to the Royal Forest Inn continued to be supplied from the Cheltenham Brewery through the succession of Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries, West Country Breweries and finally being absorbed into the Whitbread pub estate. A West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic brewery plaque still in situ at the Foresters is a reminder of the pub’s previous owners.

The ‘Forester’ newspaper had a ‘bygone’ feature relating tales of the Forest of Dean from days gone by. This amusing tale is taken from their archives from May 1957:

Lion jumped out in front of a lorry driver.’ – A lorry stopped outside the Foresters’ Inn, Mile End, after driving between the trees from Edge End. The driver, pale and shaking, got out of his lorry and spoke to Mr Michael Preest, the landlord’s son. “You won’t believe this, but a lion has jumped over the road in front of me!” He then sat on the wall to recover before resuming his journey. The police were informed but didn’t feel it was anything to be concerned about, although they would keep an open mind. Some suggested it may have been a large sheep with an unshorn mane!

An ’Eating Out’ review in the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ in January 2011 was very complimentary about the Royal Forest Inn. ‘This bustling, family pub is an all-round gem – not only does it offer great pub and Cask marque approved ales, but it has a great atmosphere and reasonable prices. It’s hard to find a pub that satisfies all these needs, but this place did when we visited one Saturday night. While we were in the restaurant, the landlord was really helpful and provided us with information on each what each dish consisted of on the blackboard to help us.’

The Royal Forest has since permanently closed and is now in residential use.

Landlords at the Royal Forest Inn include:
1885 Mrs Priscilla Edwards
1902,1906 Richard Edwards
1919 James Frowen
1927 William George Middlecote
1939 Wilfred Jenkins
1978 Ron and Irene Milton
2007 Andy and Debs Piercy

Tufthorn Inn, Station Road GL16 8PZ

Researching into the history of the Tufthorn Inn has been found to be difficult. The Tufthorn Inn is not mentioned by name in either the 1891or 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books, and nor does it appear in any contemporary Kelly’s or other local directories. In fact, the earliest reference seems to date back to only 1962 when it was acquired by the Cheltenham Brewery from the Stroud Brewery as that “messauge or Inn in Tufthorne Lane, Perry Grove Milkwall, near Coleford, known as the Tufthorne Inn with the outbuildings and land.” A ‘missing pub’ in the licensing books can often be explained that at the time of enumeration the premises was simply entered as having ‘no name’, yet there are no such ‘no sign’ public houses listed within the Coleford division. It is possible that Stroud Brewery Company purchased a property for conversion into licensed premises.

When 20-year-old Jack Crook took over as landlord of the Tufthorn in Christmas 2006 he was thought to be the youngest landlord in Gloucestershire. Jack, from Cinderford, started working in pubs as a waiter before taking on the Tufthorn Inn. Jack said in April 2006, “I’m already doing fairly well, but I want to start doing good food and re-open the restaurant.” When the dining room at the Tufthorn was last open at the turn of the millennium it included Spanish cuisine on the menu and was amusingly called the ‘El Patio Restaurant.’

Jack said, “Milkwall is a great village and I want the pub to be an important part of the community.” The Tufthorn is a true local pub. Jack got the pub darts team up and running again.

Since the nearby Milkwall Social Club closed down in 2011, the Tufthorn Inn is the only place left in the village where locals can meet for a drink and a chat.

2000 Juan Gorriz
2007 Jack Crook

Apple Tree Inn, Watery Lane GL2 8JQ

Above from: 'Inn & Around - 250 Favourite Whitbread Pubs' 1974

Minsterworth is a long linear village on the route of the A48 Gloucester to Chepstow Road. The parish extends for almost three miles following the course of the River Severn, with the Apple Tree at the northern end and the Severn Bore at the southern end close to Chaxhill. A pub crawl from the Apple Tree to the Severn Bore would have been a sobering experience after the lengthy walk.

The Apple Tree at Minsterworth has not been a licensed pub for that long. It was originally a house on the estate of the Harvey family and, before the First World War, F.W. Harvey the celebrated poet lived at the Redlands nearby. The Harvey’s were a prominent Gloucestershire family and owned a lot of properties around Minsterworth and Churcham. The house at Redlands and the building that became the Apple Tree were part of a rural idyll were young Will Harvey grew up.

Terry Moore-Scott contacted me in September 2004 with some information about the Apple Tree. He said, ‘Local tradition is that the Apple Tree was originally the home farm for Hygrove – the seat of the real lords of the manor in Minsterworth. It was once a cider house – a couple of old Minsterworthies I’ve spoken to remember it as a pub when they were young in the 1930’s and they recalled a swimming pool in the orchard behind the premises which they used regularly as kids.”

A bouncy castle worth £1,200 with a giant tiger’s head was stolen from outside the Apple Tree in August 2000. Landlady Lynne Gaskell said, “It’s quite distinctive, with yellow and brown stripes and a tiger’s head.” The thieves also stole a pump worth £200 to inflate the tiger.

When the Apple Tree was put up for sale by public auction on December 17th 2008, Enterprise Inns were seeking a guide price of £300,000 for the property which was described as a ‘Character 17th century stone-built public house, near City of Gloucester. Character bars and restaurant with owners’ accommodation. Set in two-and-a-quarter acres with gardens and paddocks.’ At the time of the auction it had been closed for nearly a year. A spokesman for the Property Agents said, “It is a building of much appeal with beamed ceilings and walls and many exposed stone and antique brick features. There is an extensive and spacious lawned garden at the side which at its peak often saw 100 drinkers drinking and dining al fresco.”

The Apple Tree was saved from closure when a trio of business minded people contributed towards its final auction selling price of £350,000. The successful bidders were Steve and Marion Davies, from Broadoak, and Nick Powell from the village of Minsterworth. Marion said, “We’re going to make it a family-orientated food pub, but the first step is to give it a lot of TLC on the inside and out.”, adding “We want to turn the clock back 20 years when it was the main place around here for food.”

By Christmas 2010 the Apple Tree was trading successfully again. An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Citizen’ described the cuisine as ‘typical pub fare, but on the smart side.’ Visiting the pub on a cold winter’s night it was noted that ‘tea light candles and Christmas lights instantly made us festive and the dining experience was delightful.’ A follow up review in May 2011 described the pub as ‘heaving’ at the time of their visit. In July 2011 a press release from the Apple Tree gave details that the pub was a ‘free house, and provides everything a customer could want, home cooked meals, Sunday buffet lunches and delicious puddings.’

Landlady of the Apple Tree Inn, Marion Jayne, commissioned the FW Harvey Society to produce 20 framed pictures to hang in the refurbished restaurant in September 2011. Steve Cooper, archivist and photographer, said, “Many of his poems celebrate the orchards, river and natural history of Minsterworth. I hope visitors to the Apple Tree will enjoy the pictures and poems.”

When Minsterworth Post Office closed in May 2013 the Apple Tree came to the rescue and opened a part-time Post Office at the pub which was open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 am and midday. The ‘pop-up’ Post Office was set up as a six-month trial. The reviews continued to be positive. ‘Overall, The Apple Tree is great value. This is not fine dining, it’s traditional and modern dishes with interesting combinations. The presentation at the Apple Tree was excellent and the menu well thought out. We left very happy.’

It was announced in August 2013 that Steve and Marion Jayne from the Apple Tree in Minsterworth had bought the derelict Swan in Cinderford. Marion Jayne told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘At the present time the hotel is uninviting, run down, it’s damp and it smells. But despite people telling me I have an impossible task on my hands, I firmly believe I can make something of it as I have a grand vision for the building.’ She said, ‘At the heart of my vision is my dream of a coffee bar to compliment the hotel and the bed & breakfast accommodation. A lot of pubs are aimed at the youngsters or the sports crowds but I am looking at something completely different. I want the Swan to have something of its Victorian and Edwardian elegance, but to make it relevant to today’s clientele and be modern in its appearance.’

The refurbishment of the Swan Hotel and transformation of the premises into the Fern Ticket took precedence over the running of the Apple Tree, and in March 2015 a planning application was submitted to Tewkesbury Borough Council for the change of use of the Apple Tree to residential. The pub has been closed since 2015 and shrubs are now encroaching onto the building. It is believed that Enterprise Inns are still the owners of the Apple Tree. The property is up for sale at the time of writing (2019) and planning has been granted for the ‘erection of 5 dwellings, including alterations to the existing access serving the public house and the demolition of non-historic additions to Apple Tree Inn”

Landlords at the Apple Tree Inn include:
1997 Doug Watts (manager), Easton Hogben
2000 Lynne Gaskell
2005 Roy Bovington
2009 Marion and Steve Davies

Bird in Hand / Severn Bore, Hartlands Hill, Main Road GL2 8JX

Leonard Clark, the renowned poet, recalled a journey from his home in the Forest to Gloucester in the early years of the 20th century when he travelled with his mother to the city. He wrote in an 1951 edition of the ‘Dean Forest Mercury’, “The journey from Belle Vue Road, Cinderford to Gloucester took three hours and was made by a horse and brake driven by Tim Monkley. Halfway to Gloucester we stopped at the Bird in Hand so the horses could be fed and watered. Tim would disappear into the pub for half an hour. Later there would be the magical journey back home in the dark to the Forest.”

The Bird in Hand was owned and occupied by Elizabeth Vaile in 1891 and was trading free of brewery tie. Arnold, Perrett & Co., Ltd. of Wickwar had acquired the pub in 1903, part of their rapidly expanding pub estate. By the beginning of the Edwardian period the Wickwar Brewery owned more pubs in the Forest of Dean than any other brewery – including the Forest Steam Brewery in Mitcheldean. The annual rateable value of the Bird in Hand was £22.10s.0d. Perhaps surprisingly, considering its rural location, the licensing hours extended until 11 pm.

With the succession of brewery ownership from the Wickwar Brewery, to Cheltenham Original Brewery, Cheltenham & Hereford, West Country Breweries and Whitbread the pub continued to cater for travellers passing by on the A48 Gloucester to Chepstow Road. Under Whitbread ownership, probably in the late 1960’s, the Bird in Hand was renamed the Severn Bore. This is an appropriate name as Minsterworth is a good vantage point to watch the tidal phenomenon.

In the 1990’s Enterprise Inns became the owners. A food review in the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ in October 2001 was scathing about the cuisine – ‘The food is not good and not cheap either. The chicken was off we discovered when we tried to order half a roast chicken, which probably explains why the chicken curry that my daughter chose at £6.25 didn’t appear to contain any chicken. The sauce was watery and bland and the whole dish was so bad we actually took it back. Far from the crusty top and delicious warming stew inside that we expected with a steak and kidney pie, we instead received what looked like a warmed up supermarket steak and kidney pie, which at £6.95 was a joke.’

By the summer of 2007 the fortunes of the Severn Bore had taken a further downward spiral. Owners Enterprise Inns had been seeking new landlords to take on the lease with no success. Agency managers were brought in after the pub company had been seeking tenants for four months. The temporary manager said, “It used to be a very busy pub with skittles and darts I’m told, but when the previous landlord left, they stopped coming.”

Enterprise Inns decided to put the Severn Bore up for sale in February 2009 for £350,000 after announcing ‘after much consideration we do not believe that this site meets our long-term requirements and have therefore decided to dispose of our free-hold interest in the property.” This was despite that the tenants had spent thousands of pounds of their own finance investing into the business. Tenant Derek Smallman said, “We took the Severn Bore on eighteen months ago and we were promised [by Enterprise Inns] that the pub would be refurbished and that we’d be able to sign the lease. None of this materialised and despite the fact we’ve put our own money into it they’ve decided to sell the pub. We have spent thousands on it and we’re still paying the rent so we’re not allowing anyone to view it.” A local resident said, “Derek and Gill have put in a lot of hard work to get it going well and they don’t deserve this.”

By July 2009 the Severn Bore had become a true free house. Free from the restriction of being part of the Enterprise estate it was taken on by Mark Green who also ran the White Hart in nearby Broadoak. Despite the White Hart just being minutes away on the A48 Mark did not consider that the two pubs would be in competition. He said, “The Severn Bore has a good following of drinkers and enjoys a lot of passing trade – I see the pubs complimenting each other”. Mark was a former manager and brewer of pub operator and Suffolk brewer Greene King. He added, “I’ve learnt a lot about the managerial side of things at Greene King and my mother-in-law is an old school landlady, so I’ve learned about the hands-on side of running pubs. It’s sink or swim out thee for pubs at the moment but I think we’re going to swim’.

When Mark Fox took over as landlord of the Severn Bore in 2012 he decided to revitalise its fortunes by staging ‘BoreFest’, a September festival with guest beers, cider, music, children’s activities. An unusual attraction was a life-saving demonstration by Mercia Inshore Search and Rescue on the River Severn next to the pub. It was a great success but a year later the event was spoilt when thieves broke into the pub and stole the £700 beer festival float from the till and made off with the pub’s laptop. The profits from the beer festival were due to be donated to local charities making the theft particularly irksome.

An ’Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in September 2013 noted that although landlord Mark Fox had only been at the Severn Bore for just over a year, he was already one of its longest serving landlords in recent history. ‘The Severn Bore is definitely a pub. I loved the open-sided long burner smouldering away, and the candles on all the wooden tables around the restaurant area. It has vibrant red flowery wallpaper and bright lights. Mark, the face of the pub, is passionate about his ales, the skittles teams that they support and every dish on the menu. His determination to succeed is there for all to see.” Adding, “The Severn Bore is certainly not a restaurant, with lively music and a flash of a games machine in the background. However, it is a proper traditional pub, doing god pub grub at very reasonable prices.”

The River Severn was at its highest level for a century in 2014 and floodwater breached the bank. When the pub was flooded Mark Fox was resilient in the face of adversity and refused to close. Floodwater surged into the garden and affected the sewage system. Mark commented, “When we were flooded everyone was willing to help.” The natural spectacle of the Severn Bore brings many visitors to the pub which Mark capitalises on, organising special events to coincide. “Five-star bores can attract 1,000 people and we had 700 people here each day [of the large bores] last year. It’s a big event of our calendar.”

Landlords at the Bird in Hand / Severn Bore Inn include:
1856 W. Ludwell
1885 Cornelius Vaile
1891 Elizabeth Vaile
1902 Mrs Dinah Gardner (1903 – Diane Gardner)
1906 William James Tingle
1965 Mr A. Kinnear
1919,1927 Alfred William Griffiths
2006 Chris Huxstep
2009 Derek Smallman and Gill Dennis
2009 Mark Green
2012 Mike Fox

Kings Head, The Flat, Chaxhill
The Flat is an area on the bank of the River Severn, down a track from the present-day Severn Bore Inn. The Kings Head is believed to be trading in 1824 and from 1839 to 1843 was occupied by John Burnett and owned by John Vallinder.

The Kings Head was owned by Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar as early as 1891. When Wickwar Brewery bought the nearby Bird in Hand they had two pubs in close proximity, vying with each other for trade. Arnold, Perrett & Co. may have voluntarily relinquished the licence of the Kings Head. The last reference I have found of the Kings Head is the listing in the 1906 Kellys Directory when Henry Cooper was the landlord (no, not that one!). The annual rateable value of the Kings Head, categorized as an ale house, was £20.15s.0d. and in common with the Bird in Hand closed at 11 pm.

Landlords at the Kings Head include:
1885 Daniel Helbrow
1891, 1902 Mrs Elizabeth Howell
1906 Henry Cooper

George Hotel, Star Pitch, High Street GL17 0BP

The George Inn is located opposite the church of St Michael & All Angels in Star Pitch. In the early 17th Century the tall gabled building was a private house known as Dunstone. The property had become an inn by 1740 when the license was transferred from another George Inn on the west side of Hawker Hill. It was originally called the George & Dragon.

It has been suggested that the building might have once been a lead shot ammunition factory. It is thought that molten lead was dripped through purpose made holes from the third floor of the building down to troughs of water located on the ground floor. The long drop ensured that the lead balls were perfectly round.

The George was the departure point of the thrice weekly coach to Gloucester as recorded in 1837 and 1842. The George Hotel was an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. The nearby brewery – Francis Wintle’s Forest Steam Brewery – were the owners.

In 1907 an advertisement for the George Hotel, during the tenancy of William Watkins, gave details of ‘carriages and horses on hire’ and ‘excellent accommodation for visitors, commercials and cyclists. Within easy distance of the Speech House and Symons Yat.’

When the George Hotel was put up for auction in 1923 as part of the tied estate of Wintle’s Forest Brewery it was described as ‘Fully licensed’. The ground floor consisted of a serving bar, bar parlour, smoke-room, public bar, kitchen, beer store and wine cellar. The George Hotel was a three-storey building comprising on the first floor ‘one large and two smaller rooms, large dining room with entrance from road, store-room and W.C. The second floor had two large and two smaller rooms and an attic on the third floor, although this was not used. The sale inventory went on to describe the outbuildings of the George Hotel which included a ‘large club room, pot house, two store rooms, loose box, skittle alley, two coach houses, stabling for nine horses with lofts over, brick built stabling for four, pig cot, etc.’

The 1923 sale inventory stated that the attic on the third floor was not in use, no doubt a contributory factor to its deterioration. Its upper storey was removed in 1947 when it was deemed to be in a dangerous structural condition. However, when demolition was taking place it was found that the structure was quite sound. Consequently, the George had an upper staircase that leads nowhere.

A food review in the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ in May 2002 was far from complimentary, concluding with ‘the food was unmemorable – slightly unfresh-tasting steak, anaemic looking chips and curry that tasted processed. The portions were small and the service was brusque at best. The George is a Pubmaster pub. When I got home I looked up their website. The mission statement reads: ‘To respond to our customers’ changing needs by working together with our licensees and suppliers to provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience in every one of our pubs.’ Perhaps the Pubmaster reps need to be given a map to find the Forest of Dean. The company’s intentions are good, but they certainly don’t apply to the George.’

The pub closed in 2009 and for many years the building was left to deteriorate, the poor old George looking decidedly worse for wear. Developers Ferrybridge Ltd applied to Forest of Dean District Council for planning permission for the construction of 28 apartments for the over 50’s on the site of the junction of Star Pitch and the High Street. The proposal was granted and officers recommended approval, but the committee expressed some concerns and deferred a decision until the developers modified the plan to their satisfaction. Plans were put on hold in July 2015. A council spokesman said, “There were concerns with the application regarding access for emergency vehicles, parking provision and the use of materials relating to the appearance of the proposed dwelling that needs to be addressed by the applicant.” Meanwhile, the George Inn site was investigated by archaeologists who dug three trenches in which they found evidence of archaeology from both the medieval and post-medieval periods. Three outbuildings in the grounds of the George Inn were discovered to date from at least 1840 and the roof structure indicated an earlier construction date of the late 18th century. The redevelopment of the site will retain these buildings and convert them into cottages.

The architecture of the new-build apartments was modelled on the original design of the George Inn, the way it looked before the owners were forced to reduce the height of the building. A planning officer said, “It is considered that the proposal would preserve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and would not result in an unacceptable adverse impact on the setting of heritage assets.”

A letter to the ‘Forester’ newspaper in August 2016 (name and address supplied) drew attention to ghostly goings-on at the George. Under the sinister headline, ‘Old Joe’s ghosts awaits the builders’, the correspondent wrote:

When the bulldozers and wrecking balls move in on the old George Hotel in Mitcheldean, in the Forest of Dean they may find resistance from an unexpected quarter. The pub, which is being knocked down to make way for an old people’s flat complex, is a traditional 17th century coaching inn.

And, though it has lain derelict for seven years, it is still said to be home to the restless spirit of trooper Joseph McGurk of the Eighth Lancers, based at Abergavenny.

Joe, as he was affectionately called by staff and regulars was a familiar presence, re-arranging bottles and glasses on their shelves. Newcomers to the pub would often gasp in amazement as bottles moved of their own accord, only to be told by regulars, long inured to the phenomenon: “Oh, that’s only Old Joe, ‘e’s allus doin’ that.”

For, it was under this roof in 1833 that Trooper McGurk took his own life while being marched under escort from Abergavenny to Gloucester to face a court martial. It is believed he preferred to die by his own hand rather be sentenced to death by firing squad or transported for life to Australia, as he anticipated. McGurk’s fall from grace was set in motion, as it was for so many young soldiers, by a bottle of grog, under the influence of which he attempted to kill the sergeant who was arresting him for being drunk. In 1833 this was a serious offence and he was duly despatched to Gloucester to face a General Court Martial. The 50-mile journey was undertaken on foot over three days and, on October 13, McGurk, with his escort of a corporal and several troopers, lodged for the night at the George Hotel.

In the morning the prisoner appeared to be in good spirits, although he had earlier stated that he would either be shot by firing squad or transported for life. He also expressed that he did not care what become of him and, when breakfast was finished. the corporal gave the order to prepare for the final march to Gloucester. As they were making their final preparations to move out, McGurk suddenly dashed into another room where the soldiers had stored their loaded carbines. Before he could be stopped, McGurk grabbed a carbine, pointed the muzzle to his chest and pulled the trigger.

A newspaper report at the time said that the ball penetrated his left breast, perforating his lungs and passed out through his back, embedding itself in the wall of the room. The dying man lingered in agony for about three hours before he expired, admitting that he knew what he had done. A quickly convened inquest before Coroner J. Cooke, Esq, returned a verdict of ‘felo de se’ - or suicide. And, for the last 183 years, McGurk has been a constant presence at the pub, moving bottles around on shelves, perhaps regretting the drinking spree that led to his untimely demise. And, who knows, when the new flats are built, will the shade of Joseph McGurk continue to haunt the site, putting the wind up the new residents.

Landlords at the George Hotel include:
1830 Thomas Hale
1837,1842 Cornelius Brain (George Inn and Posting House)
1856 R. Yearsley
1869 G. Scudamore
1870,1876 Benjamin Teague (George family and commercial hotel and posting house)
1885,1891 Cornelius Baynham
1897 J.B. Coleman
1902 Frederick William Kerswell
1903 Charles English
1906 George MacIntyre Wright
1907 William Watkins
1919,1927 Mrs Bertha Eleanor Baynham
1939 Oliver Merritt Hardwick
1960’s – Mr Wyn
1995,1997 Harold and Jane Thompson
1998 Russell and Nadean Postlethwaite
2002 Wayne and Ophelia Edwards
2003 Brian Beard and Sandra Ringrose

Greyhound Inn, High Street GL17 0HN

The Greyhound had opened for business in the High Street c. 1865. A newspaper report dated February 1895 says that ‘the town brass band held their annual supper at the Greyhound Inn on Monday night when about 45 sat down to an excellent spread served by host and hostess Sutton.’

The Greyhound Inn was an ale house and in 1891 had an annual rateable value of £16.0s.0d. but the value had increased by £4 in the twelve years leading up to 1903 when the annual rate was £20.0s.0d. In common with all other pubs in Mitcheldean the Greyhound was owned and tied to Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery. It closed at 10pm.

When the property and tied houses of the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean were put up for auction in 1923 the Greyhound inn was included in the sale particulars. It was described as ‘freehold and fully licensed’ and ‘occupying an important position for business.’ On the ground floor the stone-built and slate roofed building comprised a serving bar, private bar, tap room, sitting room, kitchen etc. At the time of the inventory the Greyhound had an unused cellar in the basement. There were three bedrooms and two store-rooms on the first floor and attics on the second floor. To the rear of the inn there was a yard ‘with entrance from Platts Row’, pot house, coal and lumber store with large room over. There was also a strip of vegetable garden opposite on the other side of the High Street.

After closure the building was converted to a post office. A Royal Mail red post box is a feature of the building. The property, opposite the Co-op store, is now residential and is named the Old Greyhound.

Landlords at the Greyhound Inn include:
1860’s Thomas Trotter
1876 William Virgo
1885, 1906 Phineas Hatton
1919 George Henry Green
1923 Mr G.E. Cox
1927,1939 Merrick Phelps

Jovial Colliers Inn, Stenders Road GL17 0HP

The Jovial Collier was located in a row of picturesque timber framed houses, which survive to this day. The Jovial Colliers was an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £12.10s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. It was tied to the Forest Brewery and closed at 10pm.

The Jovial Colliers seems to have closed soon after 1906. In 1948 the building was in use as a bakehouse.

Landlords at the Jovial Colliers include:
1856 J. Merriman
1876 Timothy Moore
1885 James Kibble
1891,1906 James Phelps (in 1901 there is a reference to E. Phelps)

Kings Arms
The location of the Kings Arms is not certain although an early reference describes it being ‘located in the pleasantest part of town in the Road leading to Gloucester, Monmouth, London, Bath and Bristol’. There seems to be no reference to the Kings Arms after 1773 suggesting that it had closed by the beginning of the 19th Century. Joseph Tibbs is listed as landlord in 1764 and William Querrell is documented in a 1773 reference to the Kings Arms.

Lamb Inn, New Road GL17 0BX

Although the Lamb Inn is located on the south side of the A4136 roundabout on the junction of New Road, Gloucester Road and Abenhall Road in Mitcheldean, it lies within the parish of Abenhall, a hamlet half a mile to the south of Mitcheldean.

The Lamb Inn was an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £15.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. In 1891 the Lamb was owned by Thomas Stephens and was free from brewery tie. Twelve years later the Lamb was owned by Francis Wintle’s Mitcheldean Forest Brewery, who then enjoyed a monopoly of pubs in the town. The Lamb closed at 10pm.

In 2002 I had an email from Margaret Longley in Doncaster who told me that her Grandfathers sister, Alice Meek, married Alfred Barnard of the Lamb Inn. She was able to tell me that the excise license of the Lamb Inn was granted to Alfred Barnard on February 5th 1915 and relinquished to Herbert Symons on 22nd April 1921.

Margaret also gave details that the Lamb was owned by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1921 and had a rental value of £17 per annum. This is worthy of note as the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean was not taken over by the rival Cheltenham Brewery until March 1930. The Lamb Inn must have been sold to the Original Brewery before brewing ceased in the town. For those beer drinkers in Mitchleldean not particularly keen on their local brew, the chance to drink Cheltenham Ales as an alternative would have been appreciated. A reminder of its past links with the Cheltenham Brewery is a ‘West Country Ales – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that remains in situ.

A chip pan caught fire in the kitchen of the Lamb Inn in July 2011 which caused the pub to be evacuated. Two fire crews attended the pub and spent an hour at the scene. The kitchen was badly smoke-damaged, but fire-fighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading. One man, who had attempted to put out the fire, suffered from smoke inhalation.

There was an unexpected delivery in the car park of the Lamb Inn at 2 pm on Monday 20th September 2017. A heavily pregnant woman gave birth to a boy whilst she was at the pub a for family funeral wake. An ambulance was called but the baby was born on a stretcher in the open air in the car park. The pub staff nicknamed the baby boy ‘Mitch’ and ‘Larry’ (The Lamb), but when the woman came back to the pub to thank the staff a few days later with her new born boy he had the name Joshua.

Landlords at the Lamb Inn include:
1856,1863 J. Haile
1876 Mrs Charlotte Haile (presumably the wife, or widow, of J. Haile)
1885,1891 Mrs Sarah Pearce
1902,1903,1906 Daniel Simmonds
1915 –1921 Alfred Barnard (Alfred married Alice Meek)
1921 Herbert Symons
1927 Thomas R. Bishop
1939 Thomas Hy. Bishop
2017 Yvonne Meek

Oddfellows Arms, Stenders GL17 0JE
There is a reference to the Oddfellows Arms in 1841. The Stenders is a steep hill to the west of Mitcheldean.

Red Lion Inn, High Street GL17 0AT

The Red Lion was an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. It closed at 10pm. The Red Lion was opposite the White Horse.

When the brick and stone built Red Lion was put up for auction in 1923 as part of the tied estate of Wintle’s Forest Brewery it was described as ‘freehold and fully licensed situate on the main road within a few yards of the brewery’. The inventory of sale detailed a serving bar, small bar, tap room, two beer stores, pot house and private sitting room on the ground floor. There were five living rooms and a store-room on the first floor – presumably these rooms could also be used as bedrooms. To the rear of the Red Lion was a ‘yard with entrance from main road, coach-house - with two rooms over, harness room, stabling for five with loft over, open cart shed, public urinal, two brick built W.C’s and a small vegetable garden.’

In 1937 the Red Lion had closed and was in use as a Youth Hostel (Lion House). It was demolished in 1984 to make way for a housing development. An archway was retained forming an attractive feature.

Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1830 John Hale
1837,1842 Thomas Wintle
1856 Mrs S. Wintle
1876 William M. Fuggle
1885 John Price
1891 George W. Mayo
1902, 1906 George Newman
1919 Orlando Haines
1927 Alfred James Bullock

Seven Stars, Stars Pitch GL17 0BS
The Seven Stars was in Stars Pitch on the west side of Hawkers Hill. It is believed to have been trading in 1756, but there are no references to the Seven Stars after 1842. John Watkins is listed at the Severn Stars in 1830, and Thomas Lloyd is recorded there in 1837 and 1842.

Swan, Townsend GL17 0BB
The Swan stood on the site of Carisbrook House next to the former Market House. The site of the Swan was later occupied by the Carisbrook Temperance Hotel. The only reference I have is in 1830 when Thomas Pockett is listed at the Swan in Mitcheldean.

White Horse Hotel, High Street GL17 0AT

The White Horse Hotel in the High Street was trading as early as 1674 when it was an important meeting place. Thirty years previous it seems that the inn was known as the Talbot (1642). A Friendly Society was meeting at the White Horse Hotel in 1809. In the mid 19th century the White Horse had gained the title of Family & Commercial Hotel.

In March 1889 an unusual incident occurred at the White Horse when three stout bullocks bolted from the street in Mitcheldean and through the front entrance of the hotel. After inspecting the bar, they proceeded up the stairs but the balustrade gave way and down they came with a tremendous crash. Mr and Mrs Evans were horrified. But by getting through a window, and with the assistance of neighbours the bovine intruders were ejected. Perhaps the bullocks were aroused by the sweet smell of malted barley or boiling hops drifting from the Wintle’s Brewery.

The White Horse Hotel was the closest pub to the Forest Steam Brewery, so it is perhaps no surprise that the inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. In fact, Wintle’s Brewery owned all the pubs in the town, although the Lamb became a Cheltenham Original Brewery pub in the 1920’s. Whether or not this was a satisfactory arrangement would have depended on your personal taste for the locally brewed ale. For those not enamoured with the taste of Wintle’s Mitcheldean beers at the start of the 19th century the nearest alternative would have probably been Wickwar Ales at the Yew Tree in Longhope. The annual rateable value of the White Horse Hotel was £27.0s.0d. and the ale house closed at 10 pm.

In early Edwardian times the White Horse was run by Mr and Mrs Edward Flooks. They had previously run the Talbot in Calne, Wiltshire. The Flooks were landlords of the White Horse for 25 years. There was a family tragedy at the hotel when Mrs Flooks fell down the cellar steps and died from her injuries.

When the White Horse Hotel was put up for auction in 1923 as part of the tied estate of Wintle’s Forest Brewery it was described as ‘freehold and fully licensed’. On the ground floor there was the ‘hotel entrance, serving bar and smoke room, commercial room, private sitting room, tap room (with entrance from yard), kitchen, cellarage, etc.” The first floor comprised of a sitting room, four bedrooms and a W.C. There was a half landing containing two further bedrooms leading to the second floor with two attic bedrooms.

The rear of the White Horse Hotel was approached by gateway from the main road. There was a stone built coach house or garage with a small room adjoining. Stabling for two horses, wash house, coal house, bottle store, etc. There was also a purpose-built stone built stable with a slate roof for ten horses and ‘small coach house with lofts over and granary approached by stone steps. Pigs cot, public W.C. and urinal. Large kitchen garden, timber and corrugated iron roof construction of skittle alley.’

New proprietors of the White Horse hoped that they could make the pub more community based and to give it a makeover suitable for the 21st century. Maria Jeffrey with her daughters Katie and Sara, re-opened the pub on 1st September 2017. Maria said, “We are doing two separate rooms, one will be a pub sports room with a pool table, darts, crib and bridge, and the other will be more of a lounge room. We’ll be doing afternoon tea some days and every other weekend we’re going to have some musical entertainment. We would like mums to come here and sit in the garden, have the older guys come in to watch the racing. We know how good the pub has been in the past. All it needs is to be presentable and there’s no reason why people won’t come in here again.”

Landlords at the White Horse include:
1830 William Pearce
1837 Giles Gardner
1876 Mrs Maria Parry (White Horse family and commercial hotel)
1885,1891 George Evans
1894 Cornelius Baynham
1902, 1919 Edward Jn. Flooks
1923 Harry Preece
1927 Hy. Morris
1939 Isaac Herbert
1939-1946 Tom Cannock
1946-1954 Felix Wright
1954-1985 The Whittington family
1985- Alan Wright
2001 Richard Ringrose
2017 Maria Jeffrey

Rising Sun Inn GL15 4HN

Set in an isolated position deep in the Forest of Dean off the road that leads from Parkend to Yorkley, the Rising Sun was originally built in the early 1800’s to serve the coal mining industry – there were once ten pit shafts within half a mile radius. At the entrance to the Rising Sun is an old mining wheel, which was used on the pit nearest to the pub.

Towards the end of the 19th century Charles Garton had taken on the brewing business of Walter Williams of the Lawrence Hill Brewery in Bristol. The brewery was located at the junction of Easton Road and Lawrence Hill and motorists negotiating the busy one-way system around the Lawrence Hill gyratory system would not even know that a brewery was ever there. Charles Garton inherited a small pub estate in Cheltenham and there was also a scattering of Garton pubs in the Forest. They supplied their beer to the Rock in Hillersland, the Travellers Rest in Aylburton, the Riflemans Arms and Railway Inn in Lydney and the Rising Sun in Moseley Green. All deliveries must have been done on horse dray. The logistics of getting their beer distributed over a large area must have taken time and it is hard to see how it was profitable. Perhaps that was one of the reasons that the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery of Shepton Mallet acquired Garton’s in 1898 even though it is hard to understand why a Somerset based brewer would want to own a portfolio of pubs scattered in the Forest of Dean and as far north as Cheltenham.

The annual rateable value of the beer house was £14.0s.0d. and, not surprisingly considering its isolated location, closing time was at 10 pm. Ownership of the Rising Sun later passed through the succession of brewers at the Cheltenham Brewery, from Cheltenham Original, Cheltenham & Hereford, West Country and Whitbread. A legacy of its past brewery ownership is a ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that it still in place.

Kevin and Jean Howell bought the pub from Whitbread in 1976. It was renovated and extended by the owners in 1982 to include a skittle alley / function room, a balcony and the bars were enlarged. In 1989 a patio area was constructed using forest stone and flagstones which could seat fifty people. In 1992 a children’s play area was erected utilising forest timber. The Rising Sun also boasts one of the best balcony views in the Forest where customers can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the Dean.

After 30 years as landlords of the Rising Sun, Kevin and Jeanette Howell retired in 2006. They were replaced by Michael and Avis Robinson in September 2006. The Rising Sun is popular with walkers and cyclists enjoying the nearby woodland tracks and trails that the Forest of Dean offers. The Forest of Dean branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) voted the Rising Sun their Pub of the Year in 2018. The reviews of Trip Advisor are also positive.

Landlords at the Rising Sun include:
1876 ? John Harry (listed as a beer retailer, Moseley Green. No name of premises)
1891 Reuben Nash
1903 Thomas Guest
1939 Oswald James
1976-2006 Kevin and Jeanette Howell
2006 Michael and Avis Robinson

Gloucestershire Pubs
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