This is a tale of two pubs.
The original Cross Keys was located on the on west side of the High Street near the junction with the main Coleford to Lydney Road (today the B4231). This is the oldest part of Bream and at the junction there once stood a maypole 40 feet high. A modern estate nearby is called Maypole Road. The Cross Keys described as being ‘at the maypole’ in 1792. The New Inn was on the opposite side of the road.
The Stroud Brewery Company were in ownership of the Cross Keys as early as 1891 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £13.0s.0d. It remained at the same level in 1903. ‘Last orders’ were at 10 pm.
At the beginning of the 1960’s the newly established West Country Breweries had become the new owners of both the New Inn and the Cross Keys. It may have been the acquisition of two pubs facing each other, and maybe not trading to their full potential, which led the company to dispose of both houses and transfer the licence of the Cross Keys to the ‘top end’ of the village of Bream where their had been a population shift. The original Cross Keys is now in residential use and called Old Cross Keys (GL15 6EH).
The second Cross Keys (GL15 6JS) had been had originally built as a gentleman’s outfitters but had later become a dental surgery. The property is of a solid sandstone construction with twin-gables, but the ground floor has been extensively re-modelled and is of contrasting brick with a central porch.
In October 1998 the Cross Keys was re-invented and rebadged ‘The Hedgehog Ale & Eating House’. An advert / article in the ‘Forest & Wye Review’ reported ‘Formerly the Cross Keys, the Hedgehog is at the centre of the village and has undergone a massive £100,000 investment to provide a superb new venue for the Forest of Dean. With the redevelopments having increased the interior space, the Hedgehog now includes a new dining area and bar, offering a wide range of beers, ciders, wines and spirits, as well as a selection of bottled English and Belgium Beers.’
The pub reverted to the more traditional ‘The Cross’ during its last few years as a licensed house. When advertised for sale in September 2012 the guide price was £140,000-£160,000 and comprised of three bar areas, kitchen, cellar, two en-suites, sitting room and kitchenette, outbuildings and garden. A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in March 2013 requesting the conversion of former public house to five residential units, demolition of outbuilding and construction of first floor rear extension.
The property has now been converted. A casualty in the transitional works was a very fine, and almost certainly unique, wall mounted pub sign bracket with the West Country Ales ‘castle’ emblem prominent in the iron-work.
Landlords of the original Cross Keys include:
1870,1876 George Wintour
1885 Charles Brice
1891 Hannah Brice
1902,1903 Thomas Jones
1906 William Camm
1919,1927 Albert L. Elsmore
1939 Richard Denis Yarmouth
And the second Cross Keys:
1998 John Grail (Hedgehog Ale & Eating House)