Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard, on 8th March 1902: “An unfortunate accident happened to Mr Frank Soper, landlord of the Ormonds Head Hotel, as he was returning from the meet at Worcester Lodge. He called at the Hare and Hounds Hotel with a friend on their way home, and it appears that Mr Soper was mounting his horse, when his friend touched it with his whip in fun. The animal at once reared and threw Mr Soper to the ground, falling on top of him and completely stunning him. Mr Soper was at once conveyed home and attended by Dr Wickham. He lies in a critical condition.”
From ‘Take a closer look at Tetbury’s Inns & Public Houses’ by S.G. Mosdell
The Ormonds Head, which is another Inn to have become a prominent Hotel has also changed its name at least once, for in the late 17th century it was known as The Lamb. This title could have come from the market activities or as a tribute to the Crusade – the ‘Lamb’ formerly part of the heraldic device of the Knights Templer. Its present title reflects the political allegiances of the customers who were Jacobite supporters and who used to drink the toast of the Pretender, they did so kneeling to avoid discovery of any passer by. Lord Ormond was an active Jacobite and his memory is perpetuated in the inn’s title. At one time the toast was “Ormond for ever”, but when the name of the inn was changed the exact date is not known.
The sign is of more recent date for at one time its title was incorporated in a large gas lamp over the entrance. This was replaced with an ornate metal and glass canopy which overhung the footpath with the name in coloured glass, and was taken down during recent alterations.
A popular coaching inn it had large stables at the rear with an attendant blacksmith, a fine pump still remains in the cobbled courtyard – the only reminders of the double gable ended building which was demolished in 1891 to make way for a more modern hotel.
A photograph of the inn dated 1890 shows that it was a receiving depot for the Midland Railway (at Nailsworth) and also offered Allsops Beers, amongst others.
Disaster seemed to stalk the town’s innkeepers for when in 1891 alterations were taking place the inn-keeper Mr Soper took time off, on a borrowed horse, to visit Badminton to see the Prince of Wales hunt with the Beaufort, and being inexperienced was killed when he fell from his horse.
The Citizen, Friday 3rd March 1984 – Ronay’s praise for Judy’s pub food: Good life convert Julie Knock has scooped a top award for her Gloucestershire country pub – only a year after abandoning the London rush. Judy gave up her career in psychology, husband Warren gave up his in publishing, and they moved away from the bright lights of the capital city to the peace and quiet of the Cotwolds. They now run the Gentle Gardiner in Long Street, Tetbury, and have just won acclaim from Egon Ronay for the excellence of their pub grub. The Tetbury hostelry is listed in Ronay’s newly released 1984 pub guide.
Mrs Knock said: “Obviously I’m very pleased about it. It’s nice to get a little credit for all the hard work you do. I gave up psychology because I liked cooking more. I wanted a complete change and I much prefer living in this rural atmosphere.”
Regulars at the rambling old coaching inn are treated to a highly varied menu ranging from a sumptuous Omelette Arnold Bennett to Hungarian goulash served in a pancake and Mrs Knock always tempts her customers to end their meal with a good, old style English pudding like Rhubarb Crumble. She said: “There’s so many things I want to try out that the menu’s never the same.”
In March 1985 the Gentle Gardener just missed out on being chosen the Egon Ronay 1985 Pub of the Year, the honour going to the Royal Oak in Yattendon. The presentations were made at the plush Inn on the Park Hotel in London where the owners Warren and Judy Knock attended. The Egon Ronay guide described the Gentle Gardener as a ‘handsome old coaching inn, where super lunchtime snacks can be enjoyed in the comfortable bar or out in the courtyard. Filled rolls and ploughman’s platters are popular quick bites, or you could start with flavoursome celeriac soup and go on to duck pancake with cheese and apple, or splendid roulade.’ One of Mrs Knock’s specialities, Liver Italian Style, was prepared by Inn on the Park staff at the awards event and served to some of the appreciative diners at the ceremony. Those who sampled the liver included top wine and food writers and Mrs. Egon Ronay.
The Citizen, 15th March 1985 – Tetbury pub among country’s top six: A Tetbury inn has just missed out on being chosen Pub of the Year. The Gentle Gardener reached the top half dozen and owners Warren and Judy Knock were wined and dined this week in London’s plush Inn on the Park Hotel, where the top pub was announced. That honour went to The Royal Oak, Yattendon, Berkshire.
“It was quite an achievement getting into the top six and we were very pleased with that,” said Mr Knock. The Egon Ronay 1985 Guinness Pub Guide to Food and Accommodation says of The Gentle Gardener, “A handsome old coaching inn, where super lunchtime snacks can be enjoyed in the comfortable bar or out in the courtyard. Filled rolls and ploughman’s platters are popular quick bites, or you could start with flavoured packed celeriac soup and go on to duck pancake with cheese and apple, or splendid spinach roulade.”
The Citizen, Saturday 19th April 1997 – Life in the old inn yet. (By George Henderson): The traditional 16th century coaching inn the Ormond’s Head, at Tetbury, might well have been lost to posterity on two counts. About ten years ago the name was changed to the Gentle Gardener and then about three years ago it was closed down. Plans to convert the inn into a block of exclusive flats were only thwarted when Lyndon and Judy Parry-Booth stepped forward and bought the premises.
Business is now booming again and the Ormond’s Head future looks assured. It now boasts a front bar, 40-seat grill room and courtyard bar and 20 bedrooms and are currently being refurbished in time for the 1997 summer season.
In its long and interesting history, it was once two pubs. During the 17th century it was The Lamb and the King & Queen before becoming the Ormond’s Head in honour of James Butler, the seventh Duke of Ormond. “It almost certainly began as a great town house in the 1400’s and became a pub in the 1600’s, possibly confiscated from Royalists after the civil war,” said Mr Parry-Booth. “When it was The Lamb, it was used by Stewart sympathisers who used to drink a toast to ‘the king across the water’ on both their knees. During the last war it was used as headquarters for American forces in the run up to D-Day.”
The Tippler, the magazine for the Gloucestershire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, March 1997 – The Ormond’s Head in Tetbury has reopened after refurbishment. the pub has bee known as the Gentle Gardiner for the last 10 years, but has now reverted to its original name.
Wilts & Glos Standard – Lyn’s last pint: The popular ‘Mine Host’ at the Ormond’s Head Coaching Inn in Long Street, Tetbury, has decided to take a well earned retirement after 40 years in the brewery and hotel trade. ‘Lyn’ Booth, who came to Tetbury in 1993, and took over the Royal Oak. After three years at the Oak he paused for breath and took on the daunting task of revitalising the Gentle Gardener in Long Street. With his wife Judy he brought the Coaching Inn back to life and developed a good reputation for his new venture which he renamed the Ormonds Head – the original name before it was changed to the Gentle Gardener some 20 years ago.
Lyn has sold the Inn to a pub and leisure company, Mapleshell of Nottingham, and he will pull his last pint towards the end of June 1999.
The Citizen, 6th September 2005 – Commercial Property. Tetbury hotel is sold: The Cirencester office of hotel and licensed property specialists Colliers Robert Barry have sold the Ormonds Head Hotel, Tetbury, on behalf of private clients to Iain and Adrienne Bailey. The Ormonds Head was on the market at offers over £900,000.
5th July 2007: There is a planning application for the Ormonds Head to have a change of title from public house to hotel.
The Citizen, 28th November 2009 – Gold Star for Gastro Delight: Nearly five years ago Iain and Adrienne Bailey decided they’d had enough of living in London and chose to embark on a new project which would change their lives. Running a hotel had always appealed to them so they quit their jobs in IT and marketing to search for the perfect place to start their new business. After a lot of searching, the couple eventually came across The Ormond in Long Street which was run down and needed some attention.
“It didn’t have a great reputation in town,” Iain says. “We took on a big project and over the past four-and-a-half years we’ve changed it into the business it is now.”
The hotel featured in the BBC Countryfile magazine earlier this year and hast just won a Gold Award from Taste of the West for being one of the best gastropubs in Gloucestershire. Iain said: We’ve had two bronzes in the past but to finally get a gold is the best you can get. We call ourselves budget boutique. We don’t want to be a boutique hotel because that gives people visions of glamour, so we are boutique for people on a budget.”
Owner in 1891: Nailsworth Brewery
Rateable value in 1891: £25.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Nailsworth Brewery
Rateable value in 1903: £32.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Landlords at the Ormonds Head Inn include:
1830 Lydia Ashbee
1844,1856 Joseph Maggs
1885 Joseph Clark
1891 William Dyke
1903 Frank Butler Soper
1906 Richard Rich
1913 Edgar Rawlings
1919,1927 Harry Miller
1985 Warren & Judy Knock (Gentle Gardener)
1996,1999 Lyndon ‘Lyn’and Judy Parry Booth (from Royal Oak)
2004 Terry Robertson
2005 Iain and Adrienne Bailey