The Ruffitt is part of an old turnpike road that once was the main route from Newnham on Severn into the Forest of Dean via Littledean Hill. The Swan Inn was located at the southern and bottom end of the Ruffitt near the junction with High Street, just a few yards from the Littledean House Hotel. From here there is a steep climb up the Ruffitt to Littledean Hill.
The Swan Inn had an annual rateable value of just £8.0s.0d. For reasons not known the premises was rated as an alehouse in 1891 and a humble beer house in 1903; maybe just an administrative error in the Victorian licensing administration. Mrs Susan Goold owned the Swan Inn and it was run as a free house. Henry Wilks was the occupying landlord in 1891 (he was also there in an earlier 1876 listing), and he was succeeded by Joseph Phelps as landlord in 1903.
Joseph Phelps was also employed as a wagoner and was found guilty of causing cruelty to his horses. The Forest of Dean Mercury reported in May 1901 that a policeman had stopped Phelps and his employee Frederick Jackson when they were leading two horses pulling an excessively loaded wagon with two tons of stone. Both horses were old and not fit for heavy work and one was found to have severe lacerations underneath the saddle causing the animal much pain. On another charge Frederick Jackson was found guilty of being drunk in charge of a horse and wagon. Joseph Phelps was fined £2 with costs of £13.10s.0d for cruelty to animals. He argued that it would be more humane to destroy the horse rather than face the full penalty. Frederick Jackson was fined ten shillings for being drunk in charge of a horse.
There is no mention of the Swan Inn after 1903, which suggests that it might have closed by the outbreak of the First World War. The property is now residential but still retains the name of the Old Swan.
Forest of Dean District Council. Planning. ‘Alterations to dwelling, installation of dormer windows on front elevation. The Old Swan, The Ruffit, Littledean’. 3rd October 1989.