The Bell Inn is a quintessentially English country pub situated at the end of one of the largest village greens in England. The village green extends to 22 acres.
One day in the 1930’s the customers quietly sipping their pints of beer in the Bell must have been alarmed when they were all told to get out of the pub immediately to watch the German Graf Zeppelin airship fly directly over their pub!
The building had been taken over by an encroaching Virginia Creeper but this has now been removed to reveal the fine red bricked Georgian frontage.
Gloucester Journal: Saturday, September 17th 1977: Links With Past (and a ghost) Go. By George Webb: Two of the best-known public houses in mid-Gloucestershire change hands this week, in one case breaking a family tradition of nearly half a century, in the other breaking one man’s link with a notorious Severnside ghost.
The first, and perhaps best known, is the Bell Hotel, Frampton on Severn, where Mr Boyd Dando and his wife Marjorie have been licensees for the past 27 years. Mr Dando’s mother had held the reins there for two years following the death of her husband, Mr Thomas Dando, who had himself been licensee of the Bell for over 18 years. The strong family tradition is understandable. The Bell stands in the top corner of lovely Rosamund’s Green, a part of the second largest village green in England. It is in the front of the Bell that the Frampton Feast is held every year, bringing hundreds of customers into the ancient building and the temporary bars set up in nearby stables. And it is here too that Frampton Cricket Club’s ground is sited – surely one of the most picturesque settings for cricket in the county. For years the Bell has been associated with the sporting life of the village – Boyd and his brother Stan were both well-known sportsmen – and the club room there is still a meeting point for local teams. Mr Dando is unsure of the exact age of the building but believes the older wing was a public house dating back to the middle ages. “I shall certainly miss the place,” he said. “I have always been happy at the Bell but I’m looking forward to a rest after all these years in the licensed trade. I have no immediate plans for retirement; I’m just going to wait and see what turns up.” He and his wife are going to live in a new bungalow at Court Lodge, Fretherne. But their son, Richard and his wife Lynn will not be joining them there.
Instead Richard, a trained chef with experience at the Unicorn Hotel, Stow-on-the-Wold, and the Chase Hotel, Ross on Wye, is becoming licensee of the Darell Arms Hotel at Framilode Passage. He will be taking over from Mr Alec Pratt and his wife Joan, who have kept the black and white fronted inn for the last 16 years. And with the Darell Arms is attached the rights to the ferry between Framilode and Rodley – an ancient Severn crossing which has been shown on maps for hundreds of years. “I operated the ferry myself until some six years ago,” recalls Mr Pratt. “But it was seldom used and eventually the boat rotted and was carried away on the tide.” The Darell Arms is built behind the site of a much older inn the Old Passage, its present heavily timbered frontage having been added in 1878. There can be little doubt that it was from the historic past that Mr Pratt was bequeathed the Darell Arms ghost when he took over as licensee. Mrs Alec Honey, who kept the Darell Arms from 1945 until the end of the war, and other licensees had told of things moving or vanishing from the old kitchen but I was always sceptical,” said Mr Pratt. “But I’ve changed my mind now. We too had several instances of furniture moving and things dropping off shelves. I never took it very seriously until one day I was standing in the kitchen near my wife, who was washing up at the sink, when my shirt was suddenly torn from my back. It was as though a cat had jumped on me and clawed the shirt away. I spun round but no-one was there. Customers in the bar heard me shout and ran in but they were as mystified as myself. I have completely changed my opinions about ghosts since then.” However, some years ago the bar was extended and alterations were made to the kitchen, since which time nothing more has been seen, heard or felt of the ghost. “I’m not sure if the work forced him to move out or if he’s just resting, but I don’t think he was really ever really malicious,” states Mr Pratt.
Like Mr Dando, he too is sorry to giving up his licence, especially when he thinks back to the happy times spent in and around the building. He recalls with particular pleasure the night when he and a group of ‘locals’ dressed up as pirates and rowed a mike up-river to ‘raid’ the Anchor Hotel at Epney. Everything went well and the raid developed into a session of cribbage and beer in the Anchor bar. Only when the Darell Arms pirates came to leave did they discover that the Anchor locals had extracted their revenge – they had stolen the boat and hidden it in reeds some distance away. Mr Pratt plans to return to Cam Green near Dursley, but he will retain his local connections as owner of Frampton Autos and Frampton Travel. He proposes to put his son, Duncan, in charge of the Frampton garage business, leaving himself free time to develop the busy coach and travel company in the village.
Map Reference: SO 750081
Rateable Value in 1891: £29.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1891: H.J. Clifford, Esq. (free from brewery tie)
Rateable Value in 1903: £29.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: F.H. Clifford, Esq., (leased Godsell & Sons, Salmon Springs Brewery, Stroud)
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Brewery Heritage: West Country Ales ceramic plaque still in situ
Landlords at the Bell Inn include:
1856 T. Karn
1885 William Cave
1891 George William Cave
1902, 1906 John Pinching
1919 George Holloway
1927 Reginald Holloway
1950-1977 Boyd & Marjorie Dando (father of Richard Dando of the Three Horseshoes)
1997 Robert Edwards (manager Andrew Mountjoy)
1998 Keith Rog (licensee. Keith became landlord of the Ship at Framilode on 2.9.2001)
1998 (March) Steve and Belinda Herbert (managers – moved to the Old Spot, Dursley)
2001 Andy Robertson (manager)
2002 (March) Gareth and Nikki Rees