The Black Horse is perched on the edge of Minchinhampton Common and has stunning views from the rear of the pub across the Nailsworth Valley.
The Black Horse was originally built as two weavers cottages. The building has been a pub for over 250 years. When Whitbread owned the Black Horse the original mullioned windows were removed and replaced with double glazing.
The regulars at the Black Horse celebrated New Years Eve (2008/9) with a ‘tropical island’ party. Landlady Sharyn O’Flynn organised the delivery of more than 45 tons of white sand, which was used to transform the bars and the outdoor marquee to a tropical island beach! A steel band provided entertainment.
The Citizen, Tuesday, 23rd September 1980 – Pub Profile. Landlady they call “mother”: Landlady Sarah Unwin is “mother” to all her customers at the Black Horse Inn, Amberley. There’s even a beer named after her. It’s “mother’s brew”, a real ale that makes the pub unique. “They all called me mother anyway, so when we had the new beer brewed especially for us, it was the natural choice of name,” said Mrs Unwin (38), who runs the pub near Stroud with her husband Hugh (42).
The Black Horse, the Unwin’s first pub, was closed for six months before they bought it, and reopened it, three years ago. Though Mrs Unwin, real mother to Stephen (16) and Justine (14), has licensed trade experience since her own parents kept a pub in Berkshire for a while. Now the Amberley pub, thanks to minor structural alterations and a complete interior refit, boasts two popular bars.
And it is the seven “live ales” served there that please the regulars. “We have a complete range of beers to suit all tastes, bitter to sweet, and strong to ‘boy’s bitter’,” said Mr Unwin. “One special beer is brewed for us in Andover, and was named after Sarah since customers had already nicknamed her mother. his aim is to run a good real ale house, without gimmicks or thrills.
And he’s certainly succeeded, the regulars would agree, prominent among then retired bank manager Mr Robin Nixon. “I and my circle of friends enjoy a pre-dinner drink for perhaps an hour early in the evening. Sarah and Hugh are very pleasant people, friendly and welcoming and won’t stand any nonsense from ruffians either.” The Black Horse is less than a mile from his home, and Mr Nixon added: “I like it there mainly because I drink real ale.”
Barrels from four breweries are currently stocked by Mr Unwin, whose ‘beer of the week’ promotions are another Black Horse highlight. The pub’s clientele varies through the week, and is different again at the weekends. “We have a few who come every night of course, and among our most loyal are the early evening customers,” said Mrs Unwin. “We get a good cross section of people enjoying themselves here, and in the main they are very well behaved,” she says.
The Black Horse darts team was captained last winter by another regular, Mr Malcom Mood (25), a local civil servant. He praised the pub as an excellent local. “There are no airs and graces at the Black Horse, the beer is excellent and I like the other customers.” Mr Mood, who finds himself in the Black Horse “most nights” and lives only a five minute walk away, and said its real ale had spoiled him for any other type of beer, “I would find it very difficult to enjoy anything else now,” he added.
His recommendation was fully supported by his father, Me Bob Mood, manager of Gloucester’s Skillcentre, who echoed the comments of many regulars when he said: It’s the excellent host and hostess who make the Black Horse.”
The Citizen, 29th August 1984 – Skittling for charity: The skittles week just ended at the Black Horse, Amberley, near Stroud, raise £250 for the Papworth Cardiac Patients’ Trust fund.
Landlord Mr Terry Margetson, whose 11-year-old son Tom was given a new lease of life after open heart surgery at the hospital two years ago, organised the event, which was won by Stephen York from Pinfarthings.
The Citizen, 28th March 1998. Pubwatch – Cosy, sheltered inn: It is easy to miss the Black Horse, Amberley, if you are passing through the area and in need of refreshments. The Amberley Inn on the ‘main road’ down from Minchinhampton common is much more obvious. But persevere, and tucked away up the warren of village streets you will come across the Black Horse, set back into its own little garden.
From the outside it looks cosy and sheltered, yet step inside it feels much like walking into Dr Who’s Tardis. The interior is much larger than the first-time visitor might expect, and the view down the Woodchester Valley from the modern conservatory area is a revelation.
An old picture taken around 1910 shows what looks like an Old testament prophet, but is in fact the magnificently-bearded landlord of the day, Henry Walker with his wife. In those days the property was valued at around £1,200. Times have changed. When it went on the market a year and a half ago it was valued at close to £400,000.
Stroud News & Journal, Wednesday 24th December 2003 – Popular inn reopens its doors: The Black Horse Inn reopened is doors last Thursday having been closed for a few days following the departure of the pub tenant, Patrick O’Flynn. Landlord Evert Abendanon, who has owned the popular pub in Amberley since 1986, is delighted to be back in business with Wendy Lewis as manager.
“We’ve been issued with a temporary license since Patrick quit,” he said. “Wendy does a fantastic job and will continue to be in charge of the bar. To be honest, we’re all keen to look to the future for the business.”
Stroud News & Journal, 2nd April 2008 – Pub get makeover: The Black Horse Inn is having a facelift after being bought by former landlady Sharyn O’Flynn. Sharyn, who lives above the pub, has redecorated and refurbished the pool room and introduced a new menu. “We are keeping it simple and sticking with the traditional pub ethos,” she said. “There are so many gastropubs around which are selling food at restaurant prices without the restaurant service. We have wood burners in both bars to give it a rustic, country charm and we offer the best views in the Cotswolds.”
“We’ll be having good head-lining bands and in July we’re organising a beer festival, it’s about reviving some of the old favourites.”
Sharyn ran the pub between 1999 and 2000, and for six months in 2003. The first big event will be live music on Friday, 11th April.
The Citizen, 2nd December 2008 – Boozing students run wild in village (by Freddie Whittaker): Students went on a drink-fuelled rampage in a quiet village, causing £5,000 damage. More than 100 students from the Cirencester-based Royal Agricultural College descended on the village of Amberley, near Michinhampton, on Friday night.
According to reports, some of the students, who were said to be on a “drink the bar dry” night, urinated in a pub and on the streets, threw paint in the roads and damaged property. the young people were part of a trip, which was organised by the Student’s Union.
Sharyn O’Flynn, landlady of the Black Horse Inn, was swamped with customers as the students arrived, many by coach. She said: “All of a sudden we were flooded with them, and that’s fine, and some of them were being a bit silly, which is also fine. But then, as I was serving them, they started breaking things in the pub.”
According to Sharyn, students were breaking items of furniture and taking pictures off the walls and breaking them on the floor. She said: “They were stealing bottles of wine and vodka from the bar, and they broke some of the beer pumps and were urinating on the bar. Then outside some of them got into the paint store and emptied tins of paint around the village, on roads and on the Cotswold stone walls.”
After banishing the students from the pub, Sharyn and her colleagues spent what they estimate to be 67 man hours clearing up the mess. “What they did is unspeakable,” said Sharyn. “The devastation was appalling. I understand what its like when you travel in a large group, but they have caused so much damage.”
Professor Chris Gaskell, principal of the Royal Agricultural College, said: “Both I and the college are deeply disturbed by the behaviour of what appears to have been a minority of our students on Friday evening. I would like to apologise to those affected in Amberley, and the college will be dealing with those involved.”
Conservative Stroud district councillor for Amberley and Woodchester Stephen Glanfield said: “I understand Sharyn has come to an agreement and I’m pleased to hear she’s getting support.”
A spokesman for Gloucestershire police said: “On Friday, November 28th, police attended a pub in Amberley following reports that a substantial number of students had caused criminal damage. Officers liaised with the owner of the establishment, who decided that she did not want to pursue the complaint any further. Following discussions with a student representative, it was decided that the most appropriate course of action would be to help facilitate payment for reparations to the property by those responsible.”
The college has now come to an agreement with Sharyn and her staff, which includes footing the bill for the entire cost of the damage and physically helping with the repairs
Stroud Life, Wednesday 10th December 2008 – Revellers are hauled back to do repairs (by Ben Falconer): Victims of student vandals are imposing their own justice by making the yobs repair the damage they caused. Amberley residents barricaded themselves into their homes when more than 100 drunken students went on the rampage in the village. The revellers from Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural College staggered off two double-decker buses and caused £5,000 damage. The wrecked the Black Horse pub then ran riot in the village, terrifying residents.
Now villagers are drawing up a list of repairs and other jobs around the village. “I want a form of community service,” said Black Horse landlady Sharyn O’Flynn, who received a £6,209 cheque from the college for all the damage done in the village. “I don’t want them asking their daddy to pay for them or their gardeners to do the work. The college has agreed to that.”
Villagers will meet on 15th December to decide what work needs doing.
The Citizen, Saturday 3rd January 2009 – Tropical trip to the pub: Tons of sand turned a pub near Stroud, into a tropical island for a New Year’s party. The beach was created at the Black Horse, Amberley, for revellers who saw in 209 dressed in what they were wearing when their ship went down.
The pub’s owner Sharyn O’Flynn said she’d imported more than 45 tons of white sand to transform her bars and marquee. “The ship suddenly sank but luckily for our ticket holders they managed to swim to a deserted tropical island wearing whatever they had on at the time,” said Ms Flynn. “Everyone had an absolutely fantastic time.”
Hula girls and cocktails, a Carribbean barbeque, live entertainment including a steel band, Solid Steel, and champagne at midnight all added to the fun.
Stroud News, 27th February 2009 – Ale lovers have just nominated the Black Horse in Amberley as their 2009 Pub of the Year. Members of the Stroud sub-branch of CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – assembled at the village inn on Sunday to award the honour to owner Sharyn O’Flynn. The certificate is now being framed in to take pride of place on the pub wall, said manager Alex McMillan. “We’ve put a lot of hard work into our selection of real ales and delighted this has been recognised.”
Eating Out, 17th May 2013 – The Black Horse, Amberley: It’s always sad when a pub closes. So it was great to hear the Black Horse in Amberley had not only recently reopened but had also now begun serving food.
Stroud Life – Menu can meet dietary needs (Advertisement, June 2015): The Black Horse in Amberley has recently undergone refurbishment by a new management team and an excellent new head chef, both the building itself and the menu have received a lot of love and attention. The Black Horse now focuses on locally sourced, freshly prepared food and has a well-stocked bar showcasing local ales, ciders, gins, more than 40 whiskies and a delicious craft beer, too.
The menu is highly adaptable, catering for many dietary requirements. The views from the garden are stunning, and on colder days, can still be enjoyed from the conservatory. Children are well catered for and dogs receive a warm welcome with a complimentary Bonio!
Stroud News & Journal, Wednesday 2nd January 2019 – Celebrity chefs film new episode at popular pub: In June, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and TV presenter Jimmy Doherty descended on The Black Horse pub in Amberley, to film a special episode for a new series of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday night feast. This episode will be a first for Jamie as it features only vegan food, which he prepared and cooked in the pub garden, against stunning views across the Woodchester Valley.
Pub owner Debbie Rogan, said: “The team were delighted when Jamie and his team chose the Black Horse for this episode – it was a fun day and we can’t wait to see the programme. We’re well known for serving traditional pub grub meals with locally sourced ingredients and we already have some meat-free vegan dishes.”
Rateable Value 1891: £14.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Beer and Cider
Owner in 1891: George Playne and Sons, Forwood Brewery, Minchinhampton
Rateable Value 1903: £14.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Beer and Cider
Owner in 1903: Stroud Brewery
Closing time in 1903: 10 pm
CAMRA Good Beer Guide: Included in 1979-1983,1985-1986,1988,1990-1997,2010,2011
Landlords at the Black Horse include:
1891 Henry Cull.
1903 Richard Jones Roberts
1910 Henry Walker
1980 Hugh and Sarah Unwin
1984 Ian Margetson, Terry Margetson
1993 Patrick O’Flynn
2001 Patrick and Tasmin O’Flynn
2003 Evert Abendanon (owner of the Black Horse since 1986), Wendy Lewis – Manager
2005 Phil and Anne Marie Brooker
2007 Andy Hemming
2008 Sharyn O’Flynn
2019 Debbie Rogan