(Lower) George Hotel, High Street GL14 1BS
The (Lower) George was located a few yards to the west of the clock tower on the junction with Station Road. Referred to as the George Hotel in 1927 it had earlier been known as the Lower George. This is to distinguish it from the Upper George further up the High Street. At the rear of the building in Station Road there is still a prominent sign which reads ‘The George Hotel. Family & Commercial’.
The Wickwar Brewery were the owners of the Lower George Hotel in 1891 and 1903. Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. also supplied their Wickwar ales to the Upper George. Licensed as an ale house, the annual rateable value in 1891 and 1903 was £45.0s.0d. Closing time was at 11 pm. Ownership then passed through a succession of operators based at the Cheltenham Brewery – Cheltenham Original Brewery, Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries and West Country Breweries. It closed in the early 1970’s and it may have retained its West Country Ales signage even in Whitbread ownership.
The landlord’s name in the 1930’s was Tom Jones, but apparently it’s not unusual.
Refurbished between 2003 and 2005, the property now houses the George Café, which was set up as an outreach venture in by the Camphill Village Trust. An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in October 2007 commented that although the George is ‘already known for its large gallery and weaving shop, its home-cooked food is a bit of a local secret.’ A tapas meal was enjoyed, and it was noted that ‘although by day it is popular for coffee and cakes and pannini lunches the place changes at night into a relaxed space with a more grown-up feel.” Another review in April 2010 said, ‘As soon as you enter the front door you know that you are in for a treat; the George Café breathes atmosphere. The rooms tell the story of its past as a village pub and the décor is warm and tasteful, while providing the ideal backdrop of contemporary paintings.”
In April 2018 the decision was made to close the George Café after running for years at a loss. A spokesman for the Camphill Village Trust said, “We believe we are unable to continue subsidising the cafe. Whilst we are sorry we are no longer going to be able to run the George Café we would like to thank all our customers and in particular the local people who have supported both the charity and the people we have worked with for many years.” In response a community share offer was launched in March 2019 to save the George Café. In the first week of its launch £110,000 was promised with the share offer achieving 75 per cent of its target. Siobhan Smith, chairman of the Newnham on Severn Community Benefit Society (NoSCBS) said, “More than half of Newnham’s population are over 45 and of that number 31.6 per cent are 60-plus. Community facilities are a lifeline to people who live in isolated locations. Forest of Dean District Council has also registered the George as an Asset of Community Value, safeguarding it from change of use.
The aim of NoSCBS is to secure the George for community use. The proposals are for an all-day café and bakery, gallery and venue for music and events, a business hub offering flexible short-term workspaces, a permanent home for the village Post Office, retail space and meeting / function rooms. In July 2018, however, the Camphill Village Trust could not be contacted. A spokesman said, “We would like to talk to someone at the Camphill Village Trust what they plan to do with the building and find out if we can buy it for the community, but so far we haven’t got a response from them.” Negotiations with the Trust were ongoing in January 2019.
Landlords at the Lower George include:
1830 Samuel Pegler
1842 John Morgan
1856 W. Hobbs / E.H. Smith
1891 W.H. Jenkins
1902, 1906 George Percy Pope
1919,1927 David Wells
1930’s Tom Jones
1939-1970 Herbert Hyett