The Butchers Arms, a c.13th or 14th century stone pub on the road leading to the famous Clearwell Caves.
S.R. Davis was the owner of the Butchers Arms alehouse in 1891 and there was no brewery tie. The annual rateable value was £10.0s.0d. and the Butchers Arms closed at 10 pm. By 1903 the Butchers Arms had been acquired by Cambrian Ales in Newport, who traded as Lloyd & Yorath. There were only four other pubs selling Cambrian Ales in Gloucestershire. Lloyd & Yorath also owned the Globe Inn in Berry Hill, George Inn at Fetter Hill and the Rose in Hand in Drybrook. They also leased the Albion Inn in Coalway. The Cambrian Brewery was acquired by Ansells Brewery of Birmingham, in 1951. Presumably the Butchers Arms then became an Ansells tied house.
Clearwell would have been a great place for a pub-crawl in Edwardian times. Lloyd & Yorath’s Cambrian ales at the Butchers Arms, Monmouth Brewery ales at the Nailers Arms, Redbrook Brewery ales at the Lamb Inn and Wickwar Ales (Arnold, Perrett & Co.) at the Wyndham Arms.
In November 1935 regulars at the Butchers Arms put on a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, and, according to a contemporary newspaper report, ‘the Forest accent made the play sound very authentic. Lady Macbeth was played by a 14-stone character and only the clock and the law brought the evening to an end.’
A ‘Pub Profile’ feature in a local Forest of Dean newspaper in 1980 described the Butchers Arms thus:
The moment you step through the door into the bar at the Butchers Arms at Clearwell, you enter an aged which has all but passed. The locals know this pub as Mike’s, after the landlord’s father-in-law, Mike Morgan, who first tok over the pub 72 years ago. And it hasn’t changed since. The main bar is fairly small, low ceilinged, with ancient beams supporting the floor above. There is an open fire over which is a slate mantlepiece, and in one corner of the room there stands a battered old Joanna. Drinks are served through a small window, almost a hatch, which opens onto a tiny bar behind. It would be unfair to call this pub quaint, but it certainly has a sense of history, unsurpassed by any other public house in the Forest of Dean. Landlord Milson Dovey and his wife Ivy are proud of the pub’s original character. The Butcher’s Arms has been run by the family for generations, and not one of them has altered it.
The Citizen: Friday 30th March, 1984: Pub’s new name:
One of the Forest of Dean’s oldest public house is to have a change of name. The Butcher’s Arms at Clearwell has always been regarded as one of the character pubs of the Dean and for over 70 years it was run by the same family. It was in 1910 that Mr Mike Morgan moved to the Butchers from the Lamb Inn, just a couple of hundred yards away. When he died in the early 1950’s, his wife Beatrice took over, and on her death her son-in-law, Mr Mill Dovey, became licensee.
He kept the licence until recently, when the brewery decided to sell the premises. It has been acquired by Val and Adrian Cotterill, of Stoke-on-Trent, who have had a long involvement with the licensing trade.
To retain the Dovey family connection it has been decided to rename the pub ‘Dovey’s.’
One other link is being retained. Jack Davis, who has been serving drinks in the pub for the past 50 years, is still in service.
Forest of Dean and Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): When last inspected this was a cider den of impressive iniquity, all spit, sawdust and not a Lasagne in sight. Now it has undergone “middle classing” with a vengeance. Beams have suddenly sprung from behind plaster, a log fire, complete with tasteful stone surround has also appeared, and it burns well, filling the low roofed bar with the poignant pong of another fading autumn. Copper potties dangled from the rafters and a one armed bandit grabbed a quid from me as I tried to get to the loo. A juke box played mutely but contented punters chatted and ate unaware of its invidious insistence. Menu and wine list offered something for everyone at reasonable prices, and while it is bound to appeal to a wider clientele, I do wish eager pub renovators left just a little more of the essentials. Most pubs are now beginning to look like German Weinstuben, self consciously bucolic and touristy. The beer was mainly Ansell’s.
During the catastrophic floods of July 2007 the Butchers Arms was deluged with a foot and a half of floodwater. The pub was closed for a month before it could re-open again.
The Butchers Arms is a very popular destination dining pub but retains a drinking area by the bar. There is a lovely water feature by the rear entrance.
Landlords at the Butchers Arms include:
1856, 1885 William Worgan Constant
1891 James Fox
1894 James Nichols
1902,1906 Charles Creed
1919,1939 Charles Howard Morgan
1980 Milson and Ivy Dovey
1990 Fred Pearce
1998 John and Lynne Andrews
1999 Paul Rynehart
2007,2008 John and Carol Grimsley