The Fleece, a timber framed building, was once a substantial coaching inn and had stabling to the rear. However, it had closed by the 1870’s. Amongst the carved wooden corbels restored by Thomas Collins in the last decade of the 19th century was the Fleece sign bearing the date 1591. The impressive coat of arms carved over the entrance can still be seen at 12 High Street.
From ‘Tewkesbury Pubs’ by B.R. Linnell (1996)
Another victim of the railway the ‘Fleece’ has kept a link with the licensed trade by becoming a vintner’s store. The present arched entrance may not be original. It is too small to admit coaches but big enough to allow the passage of horses to any stabling at the rear. This through access was closed off c.1947. Overall the building is a very fine example of 16th century timber framing with very thick and heavy studding. The front was exposed and renovated in the last quarter of the 19th century by workmen employed by Thos. Collins. Ornate brackets supporting the first floor display the mark of the Woolmerchants’ Company and the date 1591. These are copies of the originals, fitted in 1891. The Royal Arms that were on display until the 1950’s indicated that the firm was a supplier of liquor to the Royal Family in 1838, 1885 and 1901. The firm was, of course, Dobell’s, which took out a first licence in this town in 1866. This coincided with the end of the tenancy of John Wagstaffe, so the last recorded licensee of the Fleece – Henry Newman – may have been a manager for Dobell. A century later new partners, takeovers and merges succeeded in losing the name of Dobell.
A word here about Benny who was employed here for the whole of his working life. Born Benjamin Sutton he was the only brother of two spinster sisters who looked after him from his childhood to the time he died. Five feet nothing and skinny to boot, lacking a marble or two as they say, he was the most cheerful and hard working ‘boy’ to be found in any business. Today our ‘Caring Society’ would class him as unemployable. For some thirty years between the 1920’s and the 1950’s he was Dobell’s.
To the left of the main entrance a small window and a heavy door mark the premises of a 19th century woodworker, re-occupied by the vintner in 1866. This was a mark of survival through sub-letting.
Map Reference: SO 894327
Landlords at the Fleece include:
1774-1797 John Ludgrove
1797-1807 Charles Dudfield
1812-1848 Thomas Merrett
1848 – 1861 William Preece
1861 – 1865 Charlotte Preece (widow)
1865-1866 John Wagstaffe
1869 – 1873 Henry Newman