The Royal Oak was in the centre of Drybrook at the cross. The True Heart was opposite.
The Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean (Francis Wintle) owned the Royal Oak. In 1891 and 1903 it had an annual rateable value of £27.0s.0d. The Royal Oak was classified as an alehouse it closed at 10 pm.
The frontage of the building has changed since it was first constructed. In a photograph c1860 the corner of the Royal Oak facing the Cross was square and access was gained from two doors facing Hawthorns Road. In a later photograph, possibly taken in Edwardian times, the corner of the Royal Oak had been recessed to form the main entrance. The inn sign appears to have been hastily painted under the influence of several pints of Wintle’s Forest Best Bitter. There is a peculiar shaped tree, not in the least resembling an oak, with the uneven and badly spaced words ‘The Royal’ either side of it. W. Heaven is painted underneath. Even more mysterious is a ghostly, yet sharply defined, two-dimensional image of a horse that appears to be crudely painted on the side of the building with its head, still in proportion, in front of a window. It almost appears to be a two-dimensional cut out of a horse propped outside the side of the pub.. either that or a horse with very narrow spindly legs.
When the Royal Oak was put up for sale in 1923 in the auction of the Wintle’s Forest Brewery tied estate it was described as being ‘freehold and fully licensed’ and ‘well placed to command a good business. The building was stone and rough cast and accommodation comprised of a bar, tap room, smoke room, private sitting room, beer store, storeroom and pot house. On the first floor were four bedrooms. To the outside of the property was a yard with a pair of folding gates, public urinal, coal store, W.C, brick-built blacksmiths shop with shoeing house and a small garden. At that time the property was of freehold tenure and was let to Mr William Heaven, ‘a tenant of about 14 years standing, on Quarterly Tenancy at the reduced rent of £28.0s.0d. per annum.
It is believed that the Royal Oak closed down in the 1960’s. In recent years the premises were used as a ladies’ hairdressers, Ajays hair studio, but has since been converted to a private house.
Landlords at the Royal Oak include:
1863 Philip Jordan
1885 James Jordan
1891 W.J. Long
1902,1906 Arthur J.A. Reed
1919,1923 William Heaven
1927 Mrs William Heaven
1939 Oswald John Roberts (Oswold and Evelyn Roberts celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in October 1987. Mr Roberts first worked at the Cable Works in Lydbrook and later the Lydney Tinplate Works)