In 1856 a coach service is known to have left the ‘Plough Inn at Dymock’ for the Gloucester and Ledbury town markets, and there was a daily mail coach calling at the inn running between the two towns. Samuel Averill is listed at the Plough in 1851 when he was aged 60 and his occupation is described as inn keeper and farmer. In the 1876 Morris Commercial Directory it is referred to as the Plough Commercial Inn. Mrs Sarah Thurston was the occupying landlady, and she was still there in 1885. After that reference the Plough changed its name to the Beauchamp Arms.
The Beauchamp Arms was in the ownership of the Earl Beauchamp estate in 1891 and 1903. Categorized as an alehouse the pub was free from brewery tie and ‘time, gentlemen please’ was called at 10 each night. The annual rateable value increased by £5 from 1891, then set at £27.0s.0d., to £32.0s.0d. in 1903.
When the landlady of the Beauchamp Arms, Ann Evans, retired in 1996 following the death of her husband Ron it was feared that the pub might close for good leaving the village ‘dry.’
George Henderson wrote in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper on 3rd May 1997: ‘Pub Watch – When villagers at Dymock talk about their village pub, they really know what they are talking about. For the Beauchamp Arms is the only pub in the country that is owned by the very community that it serves. The story of how the Beauchamp Arms staved off the threat of closure reads like the outline for one of the old Ealing Comedies. A shiver of horror ran through the community last year when the word went round – landlady Ann Evans had decided to hang up her apron. At that point the Beauchamp looked just like another country pub going to the wall. As the village’s only other pub, the Crown, had closed down about five years ago, it looked like villagers would have to walk the two miles to the Horseshoe at Brooms Green. In many villagers that would have been that, but Dymock folk are made of sterner stuff. Alarmed by the prospect of becoming a ‘dry’ community, parish councillors put their heads together and came up with a daring plan. If no one else wanted to buy their pub, why not buy it themselves. Eventually a deal was struck to raise £160,000 from the Public Works Loan Board to cover the cost of purchase, stamp duty and so on and the pub’s future was secured. It is now to be leased to a management company who will cover the 20-year repayments. New licensees Nick Line and Carol Ann Witts are now firmly ensconced, pulling pints and serving meals for all they’re worth. ‘We are now working to get the garden into shape’, said Carol. ‘At one time it won a best garden of the year award, but it’s been let go a bit over the years. We’re hoping to open it up to customers in about another month in time for the summer.’
The Citizen: Monday, 24th February, 1997 – Pub purchase a step closer: Dymock Parish council will be able to buy the village’s only pub and produce spin-off benefits without costing local taxpayers a penny. The deal that has been worked out is likely to win public support for the Beauchamp Arms purchase and improvement at an open meeting in the parish hall tomorrow night. A packed public meeting a month ago gave unanimous backing to the scheme in principle and authorised a £750 feasibility study. This has now been completed by Simon Brown and the results will be reported by parish council chairman Nigel Thick at tomorrow’s meeting, which starts at 8pm. He has already outlined the key points in a letter sent to all 445 households in the parish. The council would borrow £160,000 from the Public Loans Board to cover the purchase price of the pub, stamp duty, legal fees, insurance, and minor alterations to the property. A management company has offered to pay a yearly rental of £13,500 plus buildings insurance, payable monthly. The yearly payment of interest on the 20-year loan would be £13,200 maximum. Other management offers will be available tomorrow. Thanking parishioners for their support, Mr Thick said: “I think that this is the correct way for the community to move forward to ensure that the Beauchamp Arms remains as a public house, the parish hall is enlarged and a car park serving St Mary’s Church, the pub and the hall is constructed in the centre of the village of Dymock.”
More than 200 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Beauchamp Arms in June 1997. The party was sponsored by Identilodge, the management company running the pub on behalf of the council. The official opening was conducted by Kath Smith, who with her husband Jack ran the pub in the 1960’s and 70’s, and the last licensee Ann Evans. They were presented with flower arrangements. A steam engine, courtesy of Councillor Dave Prout, and a fair organ were also on display.
The Citizen: Monday, October 19th, 1998 – Hearing over pub: A judge will be asked on Friday to evict the licensees of Dymock’s parish pub on behalf of the parish council which owns it.
Geoff and Teresa Hadley, who have refused to sign a contract on financial grounds, hope the council’s application will be thrown out so they can stay behind the bar of the Beauchamp Arms. But Councillor Dave Prout, the former chairman, who has been banned from the pub for alleged bad behaviour said: “The sooner they are out the better.” Mrs Hadley said the council was being vindictive and Mr Prout was barred for using abusive language, calling customers names and casting aspersions on her husband’s ability to hold a licence although he has been in the trade for 28 years. Mr Prout said he was not barred for bad language. “I told a few home truths, and they didn’t like it. I now go up to the Horseshoe at Brooms Green if I want a drink,” he said.
Mrs Hadley said Friday’s court hearing would be in the judge’s chambers and their affidavit disputing the council’s case would be put by their solicitor. “They now say we were employees not tenants but we signed a tenancy agreement with Identilodge, the council’s management company that went into liquidation,” she said.
There have been rumours circulating in the village during the controversy about the threatened eviction. The pub was raided by burglars last week and Mrs Hadley said that since then a rumour had been going around Dymock that they had been burgled at every pub they had run just before they left it. “This is completely untrue. We had never been burgled before,” she said. They and the police were alerted by the milkman when he saw something was amiss while doing his round. It was found a side door had been forced open, a float of about £150 taken from the fruit machine, the cigarette machine emptied and £40 stolen from behind the bar. Parish council chairman John Gregory was unavailable for comment.
The celebrations were not to last long. The future of the Beauchamp Arms was put in doubt in June 1998 after the management company Identilodge went into administration. However, another company, Executive Inns of Newent was secured to run the finances. A new landlord and landlady had moved in the Beauchamp Arms in August 1997 (identities deliberately not mentioned here) and a dispute flared up between the tenants and the parish council. The council had argued that the couple had no tenancy rights since management company Identilodge went out of business. Rent was unpaid which necessitated an advance on the parish precept to help make the payments with a consequent doubling of the council tax which householders were due to pay in April. The dispute turned nasty when ‘squatters out’ was painted on the garage walls and abusive telephone calls were received by the standing tenants. The landlord said, ‘They are trying to intimidate us but we will not be forced out. They are breaking the law, not us.’ A long serving parish councillor member said,’ The council certainly does not condone any abuse or criminal damage and must try to prevent it. We have lost enough money already without losing any more. It has all got out of hand.’ It was reported in March 1999 that the tenants owed the council £10,500 and the amount was growing at the rate of £10,000 a month. The chairman of Dymock Parish Council said, ‘We are having to meet 16,000-a-year mortgage with no income coming in from the pub. Until the dispute is resolved we have no choice but to take further action through the courts.’
In a packed annual parish meeting in April 1999, parishioners agreed to write off £13,333 in back rent withheld from the council from the previous 10 months. The parish chairman said in front of the 130 Dymock residents that the tenants wanted to leave the Beauchamp Arms, but that the legal action to evict them had been unsuccessful. The judge had awarded costs against the parish council. He said, ‘We really do feel that Dymock is being held to ransom over this, and there is no doubt that the public do not wish to pay the tenants’ demand of £5,000 to move out. In the end the council agreed to waive the back rent of £15,000. The chairman said, ‘To fight this through the courts could cost us up to £30,000 more – on top of the £15,000 in back rent and the rent we would continue to lose as the case went on. It does not seem right to us, but we cannot afford to lose any more money.’
A grand party was held at the Beauchamp Arms on 4th June 1999 to welcome the new landlords, Ralph and Sally Palmer. A free barbeque was the highlight of the evening and a steam engine was on display outside the pub. A new management company, Neptune Pub Co. was now in place to secure the finances.
The final instalment on the loan was paid off at the beginning of June 2017 and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when the parish council stepped in to save the pub from closure the Friends of Beauchamp Arms (FoBA) held a village party on July 1st 2017 in the pub garden and on Wintour’s Green. Marston’s Brewery sponsored a ‘happy hour’ from 7-8 pm when beer and wine were sold at 1997 prices and the celebrations included music, barbeque followed by a disco. There was also a display of archive photographs and a video recording from 1997. Terry Ball, chairman of Dymock Parish Council said: ‘Since FoBA was set up by a group of villagers in April 2003 wishing to help the parish council with the improvement and maintenance of the pub, it has raised a lot of money which has been put to good use. One of the first improvements was the start of the window replacement programme which has made the building more comfortable and better protected against the weather.’
A ’Best in the West’ ‘West Country Ales’ ceramic plaque is still in situ at the Beauchamp Arms.
Landlords at the Beauchamp Arms include:
1891 T.R. Chew
1902, 1906 Mrs Martha Comeley
1919 James Townsend
1927 H.V. Edwards
1960’s – 1970’s Kath and Jack Smith
1980 Ian & Marge Murray
1988 Jack & Kate Smith
1996 Ann Evans
1997 Nick Line and Carol Ann Witts
1999 Ralph and Sally Palmer
2009 John and Linda Griffiths