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 as a 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:
1983- Colin (retired after 17 years)
1983 (March) Mr & Mrs Scott
1997 Doug Watts (manager), Easton Hogben
2000 Lynne Gaskell
2005 Roy Bovington
2009 Marion and Steve Davies