The Craven Arms, in the centre of Brockhampton village, is tucked away down a narrow lane and can be quite difficult to find for the first time visitor. The building can be traced back to the sixteenth century, and the interior retains some original features.
The Craven Arms is located within a few yards of the old Brockhampton Brewery – the old Combe’s brewery is easily identifiable as it retains its chimney stack. Surprisingly the Craven Arms was never tied to the Combe’s brewery. The pub sold beer from the Cheltenham Original Brewery. The Craven Arms had a license to sell intoxicating liquor on the premises only. Presumably anyone wanting to take beer home walked around the corner to Combe’s brewery.
Gloucestershire Echo, 17th November 1998 – Pub Lunch (a review by Owen Jones) (edit): The Craven Arms is a very attractive inn which dates from the 17th century and sits snugly in the hillside village of Brockhampton, just a few miles out of Cheltenham. Run by Dale Campbell for the past 10 years, the pub is popular both with locals and visitors, many drawn by its reputation for good home-cooked food.
It is the sort of pub in which you immediately comfortable from the moment you walk into the welcoming bar. There the murmur of conversation and a cheerful welcome from the bar staff. There’s no juke-box and no complaint about that. It is a cosy pub without being claustrophobic and its character comes from those beams, thick rough walls and the titled floor. That must atmosphere must be unchanged from the day the pub first opened.
The Craven Arms offers a choice of eating in the restaurant area or the bar. The restaurant menu can be supplement with bar meals which are displayed on a blackboard.
Gloucestershire Echo, 17th December 2001 – The Pub Is The Hub: Prince Charles was urging country pubs to offer new services to ensure they survive.
The Craven Arms at Brockhampton, near Cheltenham, appears to have the formula for success sewn up. The family owned village pub attracts people from surrounding villages as well as trade from further afield. Landlady Josephine Campbell said: “The pub is very much the hub of the village, attracting regulars from three surrounding villages. With quite a disparate rural population, it’s a chance for local people to catch up and have a good gossip. They can just turn up and be pretty sure that some of the other regulars will already be in the bar. I think we can call ourselves the centre of the village.”
She said the pub’s wider appeal backed up local trade. “First and foremost we are a village pub and that’s part of the attraction to people who visit us from outside the local area. People visit us because we have a fantastic chef and serve good food in a traditional Cotswold pub. For the locals the Craven is a place to catch up and unwind.”
May 2003 – ‘LOCAL’ – Leave Our Craven Arms Alone: Village Pub Company – There is the opportunity to purchase [the Craven Arms] at a reasonable price, but now the funds have to be raised. A document is now in circulation which will try and establish the level of interest in a joint venture. Briefly a “Village Pub Company” with up to 49 shareholders would purchase the pub and immediately let it to a tenant. The shareholders would have no say in the running of the pub but certain criteria would be included in the lease to maintain the pub exactly as it is.
July 2003 – ‘LOCAL’ – Leave Our Craven Arms Alone: Village Pub Company – The local syndicate set up to buy the Craven Arms is in the final stages of being set up. A meeting is to be held of all those who have pledged to invest in the venture in the near future. Meanwhile various valuations etc are being undertaken to produce more detailed information for prospective investors in order to enable the formation of the ‘Local Pub’ company and carry out the purchase.
Gloucestershire Echo, 6th November 2004 – Community News, Sevenhampton & Brockhampton by Gill Lanfear & Sheila Bartlett: It’s been a very difficult year or so for our local village pub, The Craven Arms. But on Wednesday the new landlord and landlady, Bob and Barbara Price took over at last. There was a good crowd of locals to meet and greet them and together with Bob and Barbara’s family and friends we all had a very cheery, noisy, fun evening, young and not so young all together. We came away with spirits raised feeling the pub was really on the way up again. What’s more, there is going to be a locals night again this year.
“The Other Institution” by Anne Jenkin:
The first thing many notice about Sevenhampton and Brockhampton is that one has the Church and the other has the pub. There are differences of opinion about which village is the more privileged. What is good is that plenty of people find their way to both. The Craven Arms began its life as a long dwelling house belonging to the Brockhampton Park Estate before being sold to the Craven family who gave it its name and its better known function.
For much of its life it was in competition with the Stag & Hounds at the “Quarry End” of Brockhampton. This closed in 1967 much to the reputed disgust of “Trev” Trevett who had, at least in part, chosen his retirement cottage close to the pub. It closed the week he moved in from Henley. He kept healthy during his long and active retirement by daily lunchtime walks to the Craven for a game of cribb with my father-in-law, Jeff Jenkin. The Star Centre also benefited from these encounters – the loser always putting a coin in the charity box.
Both Craven and Stag were popular places for walkers and cyclists continuing the tradition of inns being the places of rest and refreshment for those on their travels. They were not always so popular with the landlord though. Legendary licensee, Charlie Birkenhead, who retired in the mid-seventies when Whitbread sold the pub was rumoured to lock the door when he saw hikers approaching rather then have them sit there for hours sipping a half.
I first saw the Craven in 1978 when transformation had just begun. The restaurant was soon added and has increased in popularity and dominance over the years. Although there is always regret in change, there are bonuses too. Drink driving laws meant that no country pub could rely on visiting drinkers any more and the local population, with all their best efforts, could not consume enough to bring in a living for a publican. Increasing property prices meant that successive owners had to cover greater expenses and so the evolution into the country pub-restaurant.
The plus side for locals as the Craven restaurant continues to flourish is that it remains available to us for a multiple of activities from a quick drink, a post match analysis of tennis, golf, rugby, cricket to somewhere to take the unexpected visitors when the larder is bare. Somewhere to go after “Keep Fit” to counter any benefit. It even houses an investment club though how much profit crosses the bar is debatable. A spin-off from having a busy local is that it provides employment opportunities for many of the younger adults locally. Many a first car has been bought out of earnings for washing-up or waiting. Many a college course has been subsidised or trips paid by holiday work behind the bar.
In celebrating the community assets, the pub should not be forgotten. We’re lucky to have it.
Gloucestershire Echo, 31st October 2008 – Our trade is being hit by lack of sign: Landlords of an isolated pub claim their business is being harmed because the council will not agree to road signs. Bob and Barbara Price, from the Craven Arms in Brockhampton, say they have been battling for three years to have the signs installed. Gloucestershire County Council says the pub does not meet the criteria for the brown and white signs, even though the landlords will meet the cost themselves.
Barbara said: “So many people come in and say they have been unable to find us, we just want to let people know where we are. We feel very hard done by.”
Sarah Taylor, from the county tourism unit, said: “We look for facilities that tourists might travel a long way to visit and the Craven Arms does not meet the criteria.”
Gloucestershire Echo, Tuesday 26th June 2012 – Award for pub brought back from the drink (by Caroline Fisher): Drinkers had deserted an ailing Cotswolds pub in their droves seven years ago and left it on the brink of closure. But a family is now celebrating after turning the pub’s fortune around. Bob and Barbara Price and their Sam saw the potential of The Craven Arms at Brockhampton. And, with the family’s glass half full mentality, they and their loyal part-time staff completely turned the hostelry’s fortunes around. Now punters are being pulled in to the social hub and the 16th-century inn has scooped CAMRA’s title of North Cotswolds Pub of the Year 2012.
Building the pub back up and bagging the accolade was no mean feat though, especially as Bob, 56, became seriously ill. Chef Sam said: “My dad has type one diabetes and on New Years Eve 2010 had a pancreas transplant, but it failed at Easter. They took it out last summer and also had to remove his leg just below the knee.”
He continued, “When we took over [the Craven Arms] there was no trade – the locals still came into to drink on the same days but nobody was eating.” Sam said former owner Dale Campbell had a good following but sadly died of cancer. The village then clubbed together to buy the pub and put in managers which saw business drop off. Sam started to tackle the pub’s reputation for food. “There’s nothing pretentious about the food we serve,” said Sam, “It’s simply good pub food cooked to order which reflects the local countryside and the changing seasons, whether it’s local meat or fresh asparagus. We also concentrated in getting the ales up to scratch.”
“We moved the kitchen to open up the restaurant and changed the bottom pub into a snug with tub chairs and opened up the garden by chopping down trees. Our vision was a good country pub, with good food and atmosphere – somewhere you could go for special occasion or a casual drink,” said Sam.
Resident and bar regular John Lanfear agreed, saying: “Barbara and her team have really turned the pub aroud. It’s such a pleasure to have the Craven Arms at the heart of our village as it really brings people together.”
Gloucestershire Echo, Monday 13th May 2013 – Community News, Brockhampton & Sevenhampton by Anne Jenkin: The Sunday evening private party at The Craven Arms was a very special occasion. Landlady Barbara Price and family invited locals and regulars to celebrate their latest CAMRA success and to test drive a new local beer. Barbara and her chef/son Sam conspired with Butcombe Brewery to develop and brew the new beer, with good gallows humour, Legless Bob, in honour of Barbara’s husband – a lifetime diabetic – who lost a foot to the disease last year and sadly spends too much of his time in hospital.
Though the beer was free, donations were invited to the charity Diabetes UK and future sales will see a donation of 20p a pint to the charity.
Gloucestershire Live. 29th October 2022:
The owner of an historic Cotswold pub has announced that it will close due to rising costs. Barbara Price said on social media that The Craven Arms, at Brockhampton, near Cheltenham would shut at the end of October “until further notice”.
In a post on the 16th century inn’s Facebook page and Instagram account, she said: “It’s with a heavy heart and lots of sleepless nights that I have come to the decision to close The Craven at the end of this month till further notice.
“This is not a decision I have undertaken lightly as I will have been here 18 years tomorrow and have worked through many challenges, Bob’s health and subsequent death, then Covid but I have been defeated by rising costs.
“I would like to invite you all to join me for a drink on Wednesday evening from 6pm to thank you for all your support.”
Gloucestershire Echo, January 19th 2023 – Decision date set for bid to switch local into home: A council that will rule on a contentious planning application to convert an historic pub into a home has said when it intends to make its decision. Cotswold District Council says it aims to determine the proposal for the Craven Arms Inn at Brockhampton on February 2nd. A spokesperson said, “The public consultation expires on January 12th. At last count we had received over 260 objections, but additional objections are still coming in daily. We have not received any comments in support at this time.”
The pub’s owner, Barbara Price, has applied for a change of use from public house to residential dwelling at the site, where the pub is said to have been since 1935. It follows her having closed the business at the 16th century building “until further notice” in October.
Villagers and other supporters of the pub have been disappointed at the prospect of it being closed for good, forming their own campaign group to try and save it. They have placed banners in the area to draw attention to their cause. Their hope clashes with Mrs Price’s intention. She has blamed rising costs for her decision to close the business after running it for 18 years.
From ‘Gloucestershire Live’, 23rd January 2023:
Campaigners fighting plans to turn an established pub into a home are celebrating after they were rejected by Cotswold District Council. Barbara Price, who was the landlady at the Craven Arms Inn at Brockhampton before it closed in October last year, had sought planning permission for a change of use from public house to residential dwelling.
She argued that the pub, said to have been there since 1935, was no longer economically viable and that the 16th century building might fall into disrepair if the change of use was not granted.
Planning officers said, in a report accompanying their decision to reject the application, that it “fails to demonstrate that the building could not be successfully brought back into its original use and the proposed use as a private dwelling house is therefore considered not to be compatible with the extant use of the site”.
The ruling pleased members of the Save Our Pub group. One of them, Yvette Ruggins, said: “We’re delighted with the decision. We’ve believed all along that the pub is viable, that there’s loads of local demand and the change of use would adversely affect the community.
“This was further evidenced by 340 written objections. The council’s planning team also concluded that the proposal contravened many local and national planning policies.”
Map Reference: SP 035224
Owner in 1891: James Walker, Guiting (leased Cheltenham Original Brewery)
Rateable value in 1891: £27.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Beerhouse
Owner in 1903: James Walker, Guiting (leased Cheltenham Original Brewery)
Rateable value in 1903: £27.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Beerhouse (on sales only)
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Landlords at the Craven Arms include:
1851-1879 Isaac Fardon
1881 Harriett A. Fardon (widow)
1891,1903 Fanny Taylor
1912 Charles F. Denley
1931 Ernest Rackham
1939 Peter Wallbank
1987 Christopher, Carol and Tim Catmull
1988-2004 Dale Campbell
2004, 2010 Robert and Barbara Price (Robert passed away on 9th July 2015)