Little is known about the Folly Inn or how it got its unusual name. The 1891 census gives detail that it was situated in Folly Lane that exists today heading north from St Pauls Road towards Tommy Taylors Lane. In the 1891 licensing book the Folly Inn is recorded as a beer house, free of brewery tie, with an annual rateable value of £15.5s.0d. The occupying landlord was James John Yeend and the owner was James Leighton. It seems likely that the Folly Inn was demolished during slum clearance in late Victorian / early Edwardian times. There is no mention of the Folly Inn in the 1903 licensing book. Folly Lane now consists mostly of council housing probably dating back to the 1930’s.
James Leighton owned seven other pubs in Cheltenham. The Black Horse in Rosehill Street; Bridge Inn in Tewkesbury Road; Early Dawn in the Lower High Street; Greyhound Inn in Hewlett Road; Hop Pole in Gloucester Road, Midland Inn in Gloucester Road and the Railway Inn in New Street. James Leighton lived at Ash Tree House, High Street – next to the present day Frog & Fiddle.
The Great Western Railway ‘Honeybourne Line’ to Stratford-on-Avon was constructed to the immediate west of Folly Lane at the beginning of the 20th century. The area was previously laid out as market gardens known as Plough Gardens.
Query by Denise Beaven on a Facebook Group:
Could anyone help. Just been talking to my Dad about his childhood down Folly Lane, Cheltenham. He was born in 1938 and lived in what he recalls a house possibly called Shaftsbury Cottage. Would anyone have a photos of the area. He mentioned his grandparents living in what he always thought was an old pub at the bottom of Folly Lane.
Reply by Martin Edwards:
As a keen local pub [amateur historian] I can tell you that Shaftesbury Cottage was a indeed beerhouse/pub it went under the names of The Folly Inn or Yiends Beer House. The Craven Cottage at the track up to had also been a pub at onetime called The Craven Arms.