The Nags Head is a pleasant rendered traditional looking building which dates from 1788.
A dark chapter in the history of the Forest of Dean occurred on the night of the 29th July in 1851 at the Nags Head. A 26-year old man named Hiram Archer was drinking with his friends at the pub. They were all local lads who worked together down the mine at Parkend. Fuelled by too much alcohol an argument ensued and a scuffle broke out. Hiram Archer was apparently always getting into trouble and was well known by the local constabulary. The landlord, William Charles, sent for the police but the young men dispersed. What happened next was described by the local newspapers as ‘The Brutal Outrage in the Forest’. A middle-aged woman called Mary McCarthy was apparently warming herself by a brazier outside the Nags Head. With Hiram Archer acting as the callous ringleader she was set upon and systematically raped in turn by nine men. Archer and his accomplices were sentenced to transportation for life. Hiram Archer died in October 1853, aged 28, having contracted yellow fever.
Stroud Brewery owned both the George and the Nags Head in Yorkley in 1891. The annual rateable value of the Nags Head was £14.8s.0d. and it was a fully licensed ale house. In 1906 the closing time of the Nags Head was 10 pm. Stroud Ales could be enjoyed at the Nags Head for a further 67 years until the amalgamation with the Cheltenham Brewery in 1958 to form West Country Breweries Holdings. The Nags Head then became a Whitbread pub. In 2013 it was owned by Admiral Taverns. A reminder of its past brewing heritage is a ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that is inlaid into the wall by the front entrance.
Myra Byett became the landlady of the Nags Head in January 1983. At the time of her 30 years’ service behind the bar in 2013 Myra was the longest-serving licensee in the Forest of Dean. Her daughter Sara Byett organised a surprise party for Myra and her regular customers at the Nags Head. For one night only a couple of barrels of beer, donated by the brewery (Admiral Taverns), were sold at early 1980’s prices – just 50 pence a pint. A 1980’s fancy dress disco was the highlight of the evening. Myra said, “The Nags Head is the first and only pub I have run, and I don’t know where the last 30 years have gone. It’s a beautiful building and, apart from the windows, it is exactly the same pub today as it was in 1983.” She added, “The Nags Head is a real homely place and we are always hosting annual events for the community such as a bonfire for Guy Fawkes Night and a Santa’s Grotto at Christmas. I’ve seen generations of the same family come and drink in the pub and I’ve made plenty of lifetime friendships during my time here.” Admiral Taverns also sent Myra some complimentary T-Shirts to mark the anniversary – but spelt her name wrong.
In 2010 Myra started to serve food at the Nags Head. An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in November of 2010 noted that ‘the pub offers a cheap and cheerful service with no frills. The menu consists of the usual pub food suspects, including scampi, cod, curry and lamb shanks in mint gravy sauce.’
The Forester, January 25th 2023 – Cheers Myra! It was party time at the Nags Head pub in Yorkley on Saturday as landlady Myra Byett celebrated 40 years behind the bar. There was a large turnout to celebrate with Myra, who is a hugely popular figure in the community. There was live music all day and a pizza van arrived later to provide food.
Myra said: “It’s a proper Forest pub and I enjoy it here.”
Landlords of the Nags Head include:
1851 William Charles
1864 John Beddis (died November 10th, 1864 – aged 49)
1876 Mrs Louisa Kear
1885,1891,1897 William Morse
1902 Amanda Morris
1903 Mary Amanda Morris
1906,1927 Amanda Morris (listed as Aminda Morris in 1919 and 1927)
1939 William Hall
1944-1969 Mr and Mrs Leach
1983 Graham Byett
1983,2023 Myra Byett