The Rising Sun has been trading as a pub since 1787. Heather Hurley writes in her book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’, “From the late 18th century the Rising Sun was the meeting place of a local Friendly Society, a venue for political meetings, the headquarters of a local Rugby Club and a place to roller skate!”
Thomas Morse (Junior) owned and occupied the Rising Sun alehouse in 1891 when it was trading free of brewery tie. It had an annual rateable value of £16.0s.0d., a figure that was maintained in the subsequent licensing book enumerations of 1903 when the closing time was 10 pm.
In 1903 the Rising Sun was owned by W.J. Rogers & Co, Jacob Street Brewery in Bristol. The beers were probably shipped to the Forest of Dean by rail, most likely through the Severn Tunnel. According to the licensing books of 1891 and 1903 Rogers & Co Bristol Ales were only available in five Gloucestershire outlets – all in the Forest of Dean. The Rising Sun, and indeed the village of Bream, must have been frequented by enthusiastic Edwardian beer connoisseurs!
A century later the Rising Sun also enjoyed an excellent reputation for the quality of its ales. It was named CAMRA Forest of Dean sub-branch Pub of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Peter and Julie Hinks introduced a large and varied range of real ales of all types, mainly from small micro-breweries. They also changed the name of the pub back to the Rising Sun – it traded as the Village Inn for a period in the 1990’s.
In October 2017 a planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council to change part of the Rising Sun into a Co-op retail store. The pub owner explained, “The plans are for an ancillary building which we would never fill with business from the pub. If the plans go through they will secure the long term viability of the pub. It has never been our intention to close the pub and we do not have any plans to move away.”
West Dean Parish Council applied in December of 2017 to have the Rising Sun listed as a community asset (ACV) in a well-meaning move to stave off possible closure of the last pub in the village of Bream, no doubt the recent demise of the Keys being a factor in their decision making. However, the owners of the Rising Sun were dismayed at the prospect of the ACV listing. He wrote to the district council, “I find the timing of this application by members of the West Dean Parish Council highly coincidental, coming at a time when I have a planning application ongoing with the Forest of Dean District Council regarding the change of use of a currently disused section of the building for retail use. This planning application has been made in regard to a part of the property that currently plays no part in the day to day running of the pub as a business and is, at the moment, costing us the owners a significant amount of money each month in terms of mortgage and council tax etc.” He added: “Aside from the fact that an ACV order does not preclude the change of use of ancillary property to our core business, our intention in making the planning application was to render our entire property effectively mortgage-fee by generating income from that section of the property by means of a long term lease to a third party. This would also have made it a more attractive proposition to a prospective purchaser should we at any time in the future decide to move on and sell the pub as a going concern. Therefore, in applying to have my property listed as an ACV, the applicants are not only seeking to prevent me changing the use of any part of my property for whatever their reasons. They are also effectively putting in motion a chain of events which would ultimately bring about the very situation they say they wish to avoid – namely the possible closure of the last pub in Bream – due to non-viability of the business.”
There is a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still in situ at the Rising Sun.
Landlords at the Rising Sun include:
1870 Richard Wilden
1876,1885 Thomas Morse
1891 Thomas Morse junior
1902 Albert Long Ellesmore (Elsmore in 1903)
1906 Charles William Morse
1919 Arnold Henry Morse
1927 Alfred Robbins
1939 Jack Turner
1998 Julie and Peter Hicks
2009,2017 Peter and Jan Coates