John Hullett is listed as the owner of the Unicorn in the 1891 petty licensing book. It had an annual rateable value of £14.10s.0d. It was leased to J.W. Watts.
John William Watts was a wine and spirit merchant who established his business in Coleford c.1880. (see Wine & Spirit Vaults, St John Street). At the turn of the eighteenth century he owned a few public houses in Coleford including the Red Lion in Cinder Hill and the Unicorn Inn. In the 1903 licensing book John William Watts is listed as being the owner of the Unicorn Hotel. He also seems to be in residence there.
When John W. Watts died in 1921 his considerable property estate, including the Unicorn Hotel, was put on the market. It was described as ‘a very valuable fully licensed premises occupying one of the most important positions in the town with a frontage to Market Place of about 20 feet.’ On the ground floor there were two front bars, smoke room, large sitting room, kitchen, pantry and scullery. The first floor comprised of a sitting room, five bedrooms and box room. The details of sale put emphasis on the ‘large underground dry cellarage’.
Of interest is the description of the outside of the Unicorn Hotel: ‘At rear with side entrance is an extensive range of buildings, formerly Malt House, which are readily convertible into stabling or warehouse, and attached to same is a pleasant walled-in garden and lawn’.
Unicorn House is now a jewellery, bag and scarves shop (Celestial Adornment Co.) and a Baguette shop which is located on the corner of Mushet Walk – the pedestrian access to the Co-Op and Pyart Court.
The front façade of the building once had a distinctive moulded plaster cast of a Unicorn which was in situ for many years after the pub closed. Its disappearance was discussed in the letters pages of the ‘Forester’ newspaper in 2014 when a correspondent claimed that the Unicorn was still extant in 2004, but was contradicted when a letter in reply stated that he had worked at Unicorn House for the previous owners in the late 1980’s and had no recollection of the plaster cast being in situ then.
Landlords at the Unicorn Inn include:
1861 Sarah Wintle (maltster and beer seller). Living with her was her nephew Joseph Nash, maltster and brewer.
1870 Francis Kirk
1876,1885 Edward Aston Smith (aged 71 in 1881 census)
1888 John Hullett (had purchased the Unicorn. His son Thomas Henry Hullett was running it for his father. also as a wine and spirit store.
1891,1902 John William Watts. He took the tenancy from John Hullett, leaving his wife to run the wine and spirit stores (rented in 1902 to Sarah Blanch Reeves)
1906,1919 Sarah Blanche Reeves
1935 Charles Radford
1939 Alfred Jones