The 13th century Ostrich Inn is opposite the impressive Newland church – known as the ‘Cathedral of the Forest’ which contains the “Miners Brass”, just one foot high, which depicts a helmet, crest and figure of a mediaeval miner of the Forest of Dean with a hod and pick in his hand and candlestick in his mouth. The inn might have originally opened for the purpose of accommodating the workers who were building the church. The unusual name could be a corruption of the medieval name ‘hostelry’, or from the coat of arms from the local Probyn family, who were iron ore merchants and landowners.
The owners of the Ostrich Inn in 1891 and 1903 are recorded as the Trustees of Bell’s Charity. The Ostrich was licensed as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £14.10s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. Although the Bell’s Charity ran the pub as a free house in 1891, twelve years later it was leased to Oliver Burgham’s Redbrook Brewery.
There was once a large oak tree in a field just to the north of the Ostrich Inn called the Newland Oak which was reputed to have been one of the largest trees in Britain with a circumference from 41 to 52 feet. It collapsed in 1956. The venerable tree achieved its reputation because it was a great survivor. According to diarist Samuel Pepys there was a terrific gale in 1662 which blew down hundreds of trees in the Forest of Dean, but the Newland Oak survived into the mid-20th Century. Vandals set fire to the remains of the tree in 1970, but a tree planted from cuttings in 1954 now stands in its place.
The Campaign for Real Ale have listed all the pubs in the UK that have unspoilt interiors that are of historic interest. The National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors is a joint project with English Heritage. The Ostrich Inn is recognised as being of Regional Importance. Geoff Brandwood describes the Ostrich as a ‘late 17th century inn that was last refitted in the 1950s and is little changed since. A flagstone passageway runs from the front door to the rear. To the left the main bar, which would have two small rooms in the distant past, has a very large old stone fireplace with huge stone lintel and there are shutters on the windows. It has a bar counter installed in the 1950s, bar back shelves look more recent, the dado panelling has bench seating attached, and there are two curved high-backed settles. On the right of the passage is a small dining room which would also have been two very small rooms in the past but has been one for some time. Outside gents’ and ladies at rear.’
The Citizen: Wednesday, 30th December 1987 – Death of former licensee: The funeral takes place next Monday of retired Berkeley licensee Mr Stan Barrett who died suddenly at his home on Christmas Eve. Mr Barrett (66) was landlord of the Mariners Arms for 25 years until retiring in 1985. (1960-1985). He moved to Berkeley from the Ostrich, Newland, in the Forest of Dean, which he kept for 12 years. Mr Barrett was born in South Wales and was a former captain of Penarth Rugby Club. During the war he was a radar specialist with the Royal Navy and at one period was attached to the Australian Navy. He leaves a widow, daughter and three grandchildren.
Forest of Dean and Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): In a delightful village setting, this is a dark but cosy little den with a log fire and devoted clientele who crowd into the single bar and devour bar snacks, natter and down plenty of ale. The pleasant host and hostess work hard to keep their customers content and have a laudable policy of “No fruit machines. No piped music. No chips and no lasagne!” Hot and cold food is available from an interesting and imaginative menu but the beers more varied under previous management, now limited to Whitbread’s own plus, as honoured guest, Bass. Another example of “Free” house selling their birth right to the brewers? I don’t know but as one publican said to me the other day, “There is no such thing as a free house”. I hasten to add he was tied (shackled?) to Whitbread’s.
The Ostrich Inn has built up an excellent reputation for its cuisine, gaining many recommendations over the years. In 1998 the Ostrich was commended by the Harden Guide for its ‘bewildering variety of good food that is on offer in this cosy if slightly eccentric inn’
Kathryn Horton took over the unspoilt country pub on October 30th 2000. She had previously been a columnist for ‘Penthouse’ magazine and had written an article giving advice to men readers how to spice up their sex lives through food. She gave naughty step-by-step guide on how to produce three-course meals to woo the ladies. She turned her imaginative writing skills to her Valentine’s Day menu at the Ostrich. Foie gras stuffed chicken supreme with masala cream sauce became heaving breast of local bird willingly stuffed with a large portion of sumptuous sausage melting into a satisfying cream. Also on the menu was well-buttered crumpet and finish with a hot sticky and moist aftermath pudding.
In 2015 she was voted Licensee of the Year by the Good Pub Guide. Kathryn was praised by the judges for her warmth and generosity of spirit. “I am absolutely delighted,” she said “It doesn’t get any better than this. We have been recommended in the Good Pub Guide for the last 14 years and we were nominated for the top award once and we got into the top 16, but to win a national award like this outright is fantastic.”
An ‘eating out’ review in January 2013 commented, ‘The first thing that strikes you on arriving at the Ostrich Inn is the charm. With its fire roaring in the corner, low-beamed ceilings and ambient music, you can see why it is such a hit.” The reviewer summed up with: “The Ostrich manages to blend the charms of traditional inn, with quality food very well. The real ales on offer – as well as a burgeoning wine list – gives yet more variety to customers looking for variety when eating out. Though eating of the restaurant-style menu is quite expensive, there is no denying the service, quality of produce and attention to detail to everything that goes in eating and drinking at the Ostrich makes it excellent value for money. My partner described it as one of the best meals he has had in three years, and the Good Pub Guide, the AA Pub Guide and the Harden’s Restaurant Guide also speak very highly of this wonderfully homely and award-winning establishment.”
Sadly Kathryn passed away on February 12th 2022. She was the innkeeper at the Ostrich at Newland for 22 years.
Landlords at the Ostrich Inn include:
1856 J. Wen
1863 H. Freeman
1885 Mrs Sophia Monk
1891 Anna Perry
1902 Walter Pugh
1903 Robert Pring.
1906 Edward J. Smith
1919 Frank Smith
1927 Alexander Beattie
1939 James Morgan
1958-1970 Stan Barrett
2000 Richard Dewe
2000-2022 Kathryn Horton