The Angel Hotel dates back to the 17th century, it appears on a map of Coleford dated 1608. A very early reference is to the Great Inn.
Gloucester Journal, June 1787: At Coleford Wool Fair on Wednesday last, Mr Tippetts, an eminent woolstapler of Tetbury, having lodged his bags in a room at the Angel, locked the door and took out the key. A sharper by some means got the key, and entering the room unperceived, cut open Mr Tippett’s bags, and stole 300 guineas, with which he made off undiscovered. Mr Jones, of Worcester, has been applied to, and it is said has got scent of the thief.
James Dennis came to Coleford with his wife Emma in about 1855 to run the Angel Hotel. He was only at the Angel for a period of about five years, but his name was clearly visible on a distinctive galleried pub sign extending across the street from the Angel to the market house. This can be seen on the above image which is possibly the earliest known photographic study of the town of Coleford. The wooden structure was removed by 1862 as it had become rotten (it appears to be sagging in the photograph). According to the 1861 census James Dennis had moved to St. Johns Street. It was here, in a property just behind the Angel Hotel, that he established a business as an importer of wines & spirits. He also acted as an agent for Bass Burton Brewery and also Allsopps of Burton on Trent. Dennis also bottled Guinness on the premises.
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the Angel Hotel is designated as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £17s.3d.0d. The hotel was in the ownership of Edwin R. Blayne in 1891, yet twelve years later the enumerator has entered Mrs Edwin R. Playne at the Angel which might suggest that she is a widower. The Angel Hotel was free from brewery tie in 1891 and 1903. In common with all Coleford town pubs closing time was at 11 pm.
When the Angel Family and Commercial Hotel was put up for sale in 1898 it comprised of ‘twelve bedrooms, four sitting rooms, bar, kitchen, back kitchen, club room, tap room, vaults, good cellarage and stabling for forty horses.’
In 1939 the Angel was advertised as a free house – ‘a first-class residential hotel in the centre town of the Dean Forest with every modern service. Ideal headquarters for every class of tourist. Famed for its excellent cellars and good food.’ Bass & Worthington beers were sold on draught.
Bill Nash emailed me from Australia in 2000 with his reminiscences of the Angel Hotel in the 1960’s: “Percy Paddock moved from the Kings Head to the Angel Hotel and he had a wooden leg which he would remove and put on the bar on the odd occasion, usually when he wanted to encourage the customers to go home. The leg was often propped up behind the bar as he deftly hopped from the bar to the tap room with tankards for refilling. There was a ‘back room’, which I can still see in my mind now, having been taken there by my father on a number of occasions as a youngster. Licensing hours seemed not to apply in the back room, which was accessed through the bar or the private part of the pub. My mother was often livid when my father returned from his pre-Saturday drink at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I can remember being told to fetch him and having to go in through the back door”.
Gloucester Journal, 21st January 1988: He’s not forgotten: Forest of Dean History Society members hope to put up a plaque at the Angel Hotel, Coleford, later this year to commemorate Warren Jones. He was a freeminer of the Forest of Dean who lived in the early part of the 19th century. Warren Jones attempted to fight poverty in the area and to protect the jealously guarded rights of the freeminers. In the resulting riots of June 1831, he was captured, convicted at Gloucester Assizes, and sentenced to be transported for life. The Angel Hotel at Coleford was used for his interrogation. The Local History Society hope to put up the plaque on June 15th, on the anniversary of his capture.
Forest of Dean and Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): Once a real old boozer and one-time coaching inn. The Angel now has new owners experienced in upmarketing such establishments and a massive refurbishment has taken place, money appears to be no object. A good restaurant with a reasonable choice of wines. The lounge bar has undergone an amazing transformation with opulent décor, satellite TV and a couple of winking bandits inviting you to share your 20p’s. Executives and upwardly mobiles gather here, as well as a loyal band of locals who don’t mind paying a little extra for their pint. A must to visit and make your own mind up, but make sure you are well presented if it is on a Friday or Saturday evening as house rules say “No jeans” and “operatives” are posted at the entrance to eject anyone undesirable. Beer is well kept and includes Bass. An all-day opening establishment.
The Angel Hotel reputedly has a ghost of which staff have named Fred. He is seen floating about making himself known. Children have been heard running around in the rooms and a Victorian lady has been seen in the Royal Room. A young chap called Jack is said to haunt the Wye Room and glasses often fall from shelves and objects are moved mysteriously. Paranormal investigations have recorded talking and whispering. In October 2009 landlord Ben Fullwood said, ‘We have had a number of strange things happen such as glasses falling and smashing for no reason and showers turning themselves on. One guest left after only staying for one night as they said they felt someone get into bed with them.’ The hotel dates back to the 1600’s and one room was previously used as a mortuary and embalming room. A paranormal investigation at the Angel was carried out by clairvoyant Toni Hunt and her colleague Adam Heath who filmed the evening. Toni said, ‘we plan to sell tickets so people can come and observe the investigations and the proceeds will go to Cancer Research UK.’
The Angel Hotel was put on the market in January 2011 after the owning Pubs ‘n’ Bars chain went bankrupt in 2010. Early in 2012 there was speculation that pub chain JD Wetherspoon had expressed an interest in acquiring the Angel Hotel. However, a spokesman for the well-known chain said, ‘We are interested in Coleford but we will not talk about individual sites.’ The administrators for Pubs ‘n’ Bars – a pub company that had a portfolio of 20 pubs, mostly located in the South of England with a combined total of 6.25 million – were still marketing the Angel Hotel in February 2013 with an asking price of £450,000. Negotiations with JD Wetherspoon had broken down.
The Angel Hotel was purchased by the Chapman Group in March 2014. The pub company already owned the New Inn Hotel, Station Hotel and Dick Whittington pub in Gloucester, and the Tudor Arms Hotel in Tewkesbury. Chris Chapman of the Chapman Group told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘The Angel Hotel is in such a good position – it’s in the centre of a nice town in the middle of the beautiful Forest of Dean. With so many attractions nearby, it makes for the ideal hotel.’ He added, ‘It would be good to have a small micro-brewery that can supply the rest of my pubs as well. This is one of the ideas we’re playing with as we’ve got so much room in Coleford.’ The Chapman Group were owners of the 16th century Angmerling Manor country house in Wessex Sussex of which Chris Chapman said that his group would style the nine bedrooms of the Angel Hotel. Mr Chapman said, ‘We’ve checked the roof for leaks and fixed the tiles where needed. Once we finish that we will start work inside from top to bottom. There’s a lot of work to do but the improvements will have an impact.’
South Coast Inns Group now own the Angel Hotel of which Chris Chapman is a director.
Landlords at the Angel Hotel include:
1608 Thomas Kedgwyn
1792 William Roberts
1794 Amelia Roberts
1810 Thomas Holder (Angel Inn and Posting House)
1832 William Pendry
1837 William Batten (Angel Inn and Posting House)
1851 John Holder
1856 James Dennis
1863 William King
1868 Mrs King (Angels Hotel, Commercial and Posting House)
1870 George Tippins
1876 James Griffiths (also listed as a butcher in 1876 and aged 52 in 1881)
1889 George William Holmes
1892 Samuel Fisher
1894 Isaac Budden
1897 George Clare
1898 Thomas Baker
1898 Margaret Baker
1899 James Turner
1902 Edward James Highley (in 1881 he was listed just as a butcher at 20 Market Place, age 44)
1906 Albert Highley
1912 Benjamin Williams
1915 Edward T. Allen
1919 William H. Fellows
1920 Captain Harry R. Read
1923 Olivia Haslam
1924 William R. Morgan
1925 Frances Nixon
1927 Percy Cripps
c.1928 -1960’s Percy Paddock (left about 1968 and died soon afterwards)
1970 C. Gordon Winchurch
1971 Alec Hibbitt
1976 Ernest J. Tuttle & David Cobden
1980 Betty Doreen Chamberlain (Oct 1980)
1984 Alan Pickup & Arthur Jacobs
1988 John Ashdown
1999 Wayne Childs (managing director)
2009 Beccy Borck (manager)