In 1891 the Glasshouse Inn was a free house owned by Emma Haile. The lease had been secured twelve years later by the Vine Brewery in Ledbury (Lane, Bros & Bastow) although Emma Haile was still the owner. The annual rateable value in 1903 was £22.0s.0d. and the beer house closed at 10 pm. The Vine Brewery was acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery after the First World War in 1919.
The licence for the pub was transferred in the 1920’s from the original Glasshouse Inn which is now the private cottage opposite.
The name of the pub, and indeed the hamlet where the pub is located, commemorates the Flemish glassmakers who came to England in the reign of Elizabeth I. They were refugees from religious persecution, and many migrated to Gloucestershire in search of raw materials for their trade. The glassmakers were finally driven away by a series of measures beginning in the reign of James I, which denied them the wood for their furnaces.
Steve and Jill Pugh moved into the Glasshouse Inn in 1996. They had previously been landlords at the Red Lion in Huntley. Steve had been in the licensed trade all his life. He was born at the old Leather Bottle Inn in Archdeacon Street, Gloucester.
George Henderson, columnist in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper, wrote in September 1998: ‘Even today, the Glasshouse remains a wonderfully old-world pub with a timeless air that has survived the centuries which have wrought such appalling change elsewhere. Just soak in the evocative red tiled floor, open fire, decent cask ale and home-cooked food, and outside there’s a lovely garden with an old circular cider mill filled with flowers.’ Landlord Steve Pugh said, ‘It’s an absolutely beautiful pub and it’s been unchanged for years. People come from all over just to see what a traditional English country pub should be like and American’s especially love it.’
In February 2000 a new extension was opened at the Glasshouse Inn. Senior golf professional and former Ryder Cup captain Brian Huggett MBE, a regular customer at the Glasshouse officially opened the extra bar, improved kitchen facilities and added living accommodation. Care was taken to use traditional materials so that it complemented the style of the original building. Traditional Forest of Dean stone was used in the construction and heavy flags for the floor, 500-year-old oak beams and a salvaged old cherrywood bar were installed and supplied locally. Steve Pugh commented, ‘The builders have done a first-class job. I think they really enjoyed working with local materials on something that was out of the ordinary but completely in keeping. It is a tribute to local craftsmen.’
An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper in January 2003 gave this account of the Glasshouse Inn:
‘It was a Saturday night. Outside was all quiet. I feared the place was shut. It wasn’t. Opening the door, we stepped into the welcoming atmosphere of one of the county’s classic English country pubs. Simple wooden furniture, pictures of hunting scenes on the walls, constant chatter and occasional laughter providing the soundtrack to everyone’s evening out. A biker’s jacket was drying by the fire, families were gathered round tables, couples leaned toward each other in secluded corners and groups of merry-looking drinkers chattered and exchanged jokes at the end of the bar. After our meal we sat around the table, toasting ourselves besides the fire. We all relaxed in our chairs, glowing with that comfortable feeling of being well and truly satisfied.’
In February 2010 Forest of Dean District Council gave permission for the erection of three holiday chalets in the orchard at the back of the Glasshouse Inn. The original application was for the construction of five chalets. Steve Pugh said, ‘We get people from all over the country coming to May Hill and many of them want to stay but there is a shortage of accommodation.’
The English flag of St George is flown at the Glasshouse Inn for 364 days a year. Steve Pugh said, ‘I love my country. By doing it we mean no disrespect to anybody, it’s just something we like to do.’ The only day that it is not flown is on November 11th, when it is replaced by a Union flag to commemorate Armistice day.
The Glasshouse Inn enjoys an excellent reputation for good food, which attracts diners for miles around. Richard Ashcroft, local resident and singer with the band The Verve, took his friend Noel Gallagher of the band Oasis to the Glasshouse for a Sunday dinner in December 1998. According to the ‘Sun’ newspaper’s showbiz gossip page the celebrities were “looking even more miserable than normal when they were denied lunch at the pub”, which prompted a response from Steve Pugh who said that Richard Ashcroft had been to the pub before and knew that the Glasshouse didn’t serve food on Sundays.
A ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still graces the outside of the Glasshouse Inn and an ornamental bracket bearing the ‘Castle’ emblem of West Country Breweries houses the pub sign.
In May 2019 the Glasshouse Inn and Lodges were up for sale with an asking price of £1,300,000.
Landlords at the Glasshouse Inn include:
1891 John Haile
1903,1939 Philip Smith
1967,1996 Ted and Geraldine Hulme
1996, 2019 Steve and Jill Pugh