The Kilcot Inn, a mile to the west of Newent, is on the B4221 road close to the county border with Herefordshire. The inn was built by Thomas Davis in the 1690’s but records show that there has been a dwelling on the site since the 1530’s.
Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar owned the Kilcot Inn in 1891 and 1903. With alehouse status it had an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. and closing time was scheduled for 10 pm. Their beers must have been particularly good as the pub has an arched cellar with a spring running through it –the perfect place to keep beer cool particularly during hot weather.
In February 1981 the pub had an unusual customer – a beer swilling chicken named Gertie!
The Kilcot Inn closed in 1997. It was bought in 2001 by Sue Harper, a former nurse who had to leave her profession after a back injury curtailed her medical career after a serious car accident in 1994. The Kilcot Inn reopened again in the summer of 2002. The décor was described as an ‘eclectic mix of function and folly: odd white oars hang next to faded tapestries on walls painted in rich hues of raspberry and electric blue, chunky beams adorn the ceiling and there are nick-nacks everywhere.’ When officers of the Department of Work and Pensions visited the Kilcot in December 2003 they reported Sue Harper for working behind the bar, clearing plates and serving drinks whilst claiming disability benefits. However, she was cleared of fraud by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court with the QC stating that he did not think that she was doing anything wrong by occasionally helping out at the pub. She said ‘I was in a lot of pain so my sons ran [the Kilcot Inn] for me and my sister used to come down. My sons were a godsend.’
The Kilcot Inn had a favourable review in the ‘Eating Out’ feature of the ‘Forester’ newspaper in December 2007. The landlady said, ‘The restaurant used to be the kitchen and we’ve virtually rebuilt the whole place. It’s been a lot of work, but it now has the rustic feel I wanted. There are no doors between the three main rooms and the bar, which gives it an open and welcoming ambience.’ The food was locally sourced and award-winning chef Heather Creighton speciality dishes based on freshly caught fish, couriered daily from Cornwall included porbeagle shark steak, Cornish plaice and sea bass. A starter dish included tiger prawns with Chinese spices, fresh chilli, ginger and garlic on a bed of wilted pak choi.
The Kilcot Inn was repossessed by the bank in November 2008 after running into financial difficulties. The pub closed in March 2009 and was boarded up.
In May 2010 a planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for alterations, extension and renovation works at the Kilcot Inn. The work was given permission and work started to restore the pub to its former glory in October 2010. The new owners Elliott and Helen Thomas said, ‘When we bought the place it had been ripped apart, and we’ve had to strip it down and start again.’ Mr Thomas, from Much Marcle, was a builder by trade and the plans included reinstating fireplaces, oak floors, window frames and beams. He said, ‘We will be a free house and aim to serve good pub grub as well as plenty of real ales and ciders. We have dug a new car park with 70 spaces, and aim to welcome both locals and be a destination pub. We will also have four rooms for people to stay in. I can’t say at this stage how much it will cost us to do all the work, but it will be a few hundred thousand pounds.’ Thankfully the sensitive restoration retained the ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that adorns the front of the pub.
The revamped Kilcot Inn opened for business again in July 2011. Helen Thomas’ son Mark Lawrence and Richard Parker took over the running of the pub. It was an immediate success with the restaurant being fully booked and the pair said that they had been ‘rushed off their feet’ and the ales and ciders had been ‘flying off the shelf’.
An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in May 2014 was extremely complimentary about the Kilcot Inn. Reviewer Steve Watson wrote, ‘Every time I come to the Kilcot it feels fresh. The menu is constantly changing, the beers and ciders are always altering and they seem to do what all good businesses do – constantly look for ways to improve. The Kilcot has a fantastic manager, two excellent chefs and service that is good as any in the area. Everything looks smart. The pub itself is spotless and the restaurant area is bustling – you’re already in a good mood before you’ve taken the first sip of your pint.’ He concluded, ‘The Kilcot is a very good pub, it’s definitely one of the best food pubs in the area. The menu is fantastic and there are some good twists on classic dishes. It offers one of the more expensive menus, but for quality of food you receive and the cuts of meat used, it isn’t overpriced. Value has nothing to do with cost, value is the cost of the meal versus the quality of it. Great techniques, wonderful presentation and a menu that gets better with every visit are worth paying for.’
The Kilcot Inn was named runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly Award under the Best Sunday Lunch category in October 2017. The Observer’s Killian Fox described the inn as a ‘beautifully restored pub’ and recommended the Welsh leg of lamb with leek sauce or a rib of beef with roasties. The accolades also include the winner of the Restaurant of the Year in the ‘Forester’ Business Awards 2017, Best Pub in the ‘Taste of Gloucester’ awards in 2017 and has gained the distinction of Certificate of Excellence in Trip Advisor 2019.
The Kilcot Inn website states:
Here at our refurbished Inn, our emphasis is on tradition. We are a family owned, independent business, striving to always offer the very best. We are proud to offer great food with our own ‘twist.’ Real ales and ciders are balanced out with an interesting wine menu, focusing on quality and value. You can also enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in one of our four beautifully appointed rooms, which are a mixture of traditional oak woodwork and modern comforts. The rooms have recently been upgraded to 4* Gold by the AA. Follow a restful night’s sleep with a magnificent breakfast- bacon, free range eggs and sausages. If that isn’t for you, we are happy to offer a lighter breakfast to start your day. We have a beautiful Rose Garden and unique African Pods for al fresco dining. Children are always welcome and enjoy burning off energy in our large enclosed play area. Dogs are welcome in the bar area of the pub.
Landlords at the Kilcot Inn include:
1876 John Wood
1891 G.F. Burcomb.
1902, 1906 Fred Smith
1919 Joe Bennett
1927 Albert Hayward
1939 Mrs Edith Mary Hayward
2002 Sue Harper
2010,2019 Elliott and Helen Thomas, Mark Lawrence