The Bell & Castle has been trading in Horsley since at least 1870 and parts of the building are thought to be 600 years old. Over the years the pub had been extended creating a variety of architectural styles. The Stroud Brewery Company acquired the Bell & Castle after the takeover of Playne’s Forwood Brewery in Minchinhampton in 1897. The entrance to the pub was rebuilt in the early 1960’s – there were ‘West Country Ales – Best in the West’ ceramic plaques either side of the front doorway. The pub later passed to Whitbread ownership, before becoming part of the Enterprise Inns pub estate in the 1990’s.
In 1997 the Bell & Castle was named Enterprise Inns Regional Pub of the Year. In April 2004 the Bell & Castle raised £62 towards the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital’s Pied Piper Appeal by organising a charity snail race – fourteen garden snails slimed their way over a distance three feet, taking around 20 minutes to complete the course, an average of 0.0017 mph!
In 2008 Enterprise Inns put the property up for sale with a clause that it could not operate as a pub. Enterprise Inns put 80 or so freehold pubs on the market with a restrictive covenant despite the fact that some of these pubs were doing a good trade. This certainly applied at the Bell & Castle where Simon and Dawn Winchester had turned the fortunes of the pub around. Despite this a company spokeswoman told the local press: “Please be assured that we never sell any of our pubs without a lot of careful thought and consideration. Unfortunately, we have worked hard to make this pub business viable over many years, but the level of customer support locally has simply been insufficient to allow this. Therefore despite our best efforts it has become necessary to consider the disposal option in this case.”
A petition from villagers protesting about the closure of their local pub was partly successful as Enterprise Inns removed the restrictive covenant from the sale. Horsley residents were outraged that the Bell & Castle could close so soon after the local Post Office shut in June 2008. A property developer put forward plans for a £1.25 million redevelopment of the site into a continental style licensed café with community shop and housing overlooking a new courtyard in the centre of the village. The Bell & Castle pub was described as a “miss-mash, a mess. The whole pub will have to come down.” The Bell & Castle site occupied a third of an acre, including the beer garden and the car park.
After closure the fabric of the building steadily deteriorated and it was feared that Horsley would lose its village pub. The story of its re-emergence, apparently against all odds, into the Hog freehouse will be examined in more detail in a future update of this page.
Map Reference: ST 840980
Owner in 1891: George Playne, Forwood Brewery, Minchinhampton
Rateable value in 1891: £12.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Stroud Brewery
Rateable value in 1903: £12.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Owner in 1997,2008: Enterprise Inns
Landlords at the Bell & Castle / The Hog include:
1885,1891 Richard Leonard (listed as the Bell Inn in 1885)
1897 John Farmiloe
1902,1906 Joseph Nelson Kennett
1919 Harry Twitchett
1927 William Harvey
? Mrs Harvey (she was known affectionately as Auntie Annie)
1950’s Bill and Doris Austin
1997 Kevin Dursley and Carol Palmer (from the Catherine Wheel, Bibury)
1998 Liz Golledge
1999 Gordon Kennedy-Bragg (from the Vauxhall Inn, Gloucester)
2000 David and Georgie Vening
2004 Tracey Coutts , Kirsty and Craig ?
2008 Simon and Dawn Winchester