An early reference lists J. Short as landlord in 1856. In 1891 the Kings Head was described as a beer house, being free of brewery tie. Harriet Godwin is listed as both owner and occupier. John Arnold of Wickwar (High Street Brewery) had acquired the pub in 1903 and closing time was at 10 pm. The annual rateable value in 1891 and 1903 was £12.0s.0d. Henry Godwin is listed as landlord in 1903, presumably the husband of Harriet. It seems as if they accepted an offer to buy their pub. Ernest Beach is listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory.

Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): This compact inn by the roadside lists a good selection of brews including Webster’s Bitter, Theakston’s and Youngers. The menu is fast and chippy and the wine is available by the bottle or glass. A stone fireplace housing an imitation ‘coal’ fire dominates the lounge.

In the early 2000’s the pub had a change of identity and was re branded as the King of Spain – a tapas bar.

The King of Spain Pub and Restaurant.

As editor of ‘the tippler’ the magazine for the Gloucestershire branches of the Campaign for Real Ale, I wrote this article in the autumn of 2006: ‘The Kings Head at Berry Hill, just to the north of Coleford, opened again in August after a six month period of closure. In its last incarnation the pub was a tapas bar called the King of Spain but it will now revert to its true identity.  Gary Hogsden is a real ale man through and through and takes great delight in serving his Wye Valley Brewery beers and Brains SA in tip top condition. He has also launched a menu using fresh local produce.’

Gary Hogsden at the bar of the Kings Head

In May 2010 an application was submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council to demolish the old pub and build four self-contained units on the site. In February 2011 estate agents were marketing the property as an ‘superb development opportunity with full planning for the existing dwelling to be converted into three two-bedroom apartments as well as a pair of semi-detached properties to the rear’. The guide price was £250,000. The decision to call time on the Kings Head was met with mixed responses from the community. Dr Steve Yeates, a research fellow of historical landscapes at Wolfson College Oxford, conducted a survey into the building and submitted his findings to the planners. He claimed the building could actually date back to 1683-5 and remarked “If this is the case then it is an important building in the Forest of Dean, being of a similar date to the Speech House.” Conversely a neighbour living next door to the Kings Head said “We’ve had problems over the years with noise and it never shutting on time. The pub has run at a loss for years so there’s no point in keeping it open.”

The building has been slowly renovated over the last few years to a high standard. The rendering has been removed exposing the natural stone. Now in residential use it is barely recognisable as the old Kings Head.

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