The Yew Tree Inn is on the A4136 Monmouth Road, just to the west of Longhope Village
There is a very early reference to the Yew Tree in Longhope in 1608 when the innkeeper was Thomas Dobbs. There then follows a gap of two centuries, when in 1838 the Yew Tree was occupied by Emmanuel Constance. Of course there is no guarantee that the sign of the Yew Tree did not move during this time from another property in the village to the existing premises.
The Yew Tree had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903 and was licensed as an alehouse, closing at 10 pm. The pub was free from brewery tie in those late Victorian and early Edwardian days. James Thomas is listed as the owner in 1891, and Jane Thomas in 1903. Were James and Jane husband and wife? Was Jane a widow in 1903? Perhaps the forenames James and Jane might even be a careless enumeration error.
Arnold Perrett & Co. of Wickwar acquired the Yew Tree Inn sometime before the Second World War. An inventory of sale in 1937 noted that the inn had a ‘yard, stables, coach-house, garden lawns, and piece of orchard land’.
In 2000 the inn sign was housed in an ornamental ironwork frame with the West Country castle emblem, but the pub sign has now been replaced with a modern bracket. The decorative scrolled ironwork sign bracket installed by West Country Breweries in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s was once a familiar feature in many of the pub signs of Gloucestershire. Such sign brackets have also disappeared from the Belfry (ex-George Hotel) in Littledean and the Keys pub in Bream). There are only two survivors left in the Forest of Dean, the sign of the Kings Head at Birdwood and the White Horse in Soudley.
A pub review in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper in March 2002 was not very complimentary about the food on offer at the Yew Tree. Under the headline ‘Pub will leave yew wanting for more’, the reviewer commented, ‘The staff are friendly and the welcome to children is warm. The food, sadly, is not the best. Ours arrived in dribs and drabs, some of the family practically finishing their food before others had started. The roast potatoes appeared to be deep-fried frozen ones and the Sunday roast meat tasted as if it had been individually packed and frozen. The experience sadly left us with a slightly less than satisfied feeling that there could be so much more to this.’
The fortunes of the Yew Tree Inn had changed for the better by the autumn of 2010 when Natalie and Steve Taylor-Pockett moved into the pub from the Nags Head on the Ross road. Natalie said, “The main attraction with the Yew Tree is that it’s a free house, so we can set our own prices and stock what we want. We’re serving several real ales and different guest ales, but because the Yew Tree has opened and shut so much recently we have our work cut out trying to get the regulars back in.” A partition was put in place between the bar and the restaurant and a renowned chef, Penny Hutchins, was employed to improve the cuisine. Natalie said, “Penny is well-known for her fish dishes and everything is home-made. You won’t find anything processed at the Yew Tree.”
A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in May 2011 for the construction of nine new chalets at the pub together with an extension to the main building. The chalets were officially opened in March 2012. Owner Paul Williams, who grew up in the village, said, “I used to drink in this pub as a teenager and I bought it as an investment. Building the chalets has been a great boost and we’re particularly busy this month (Cheltenham Gold Cup week).” The modern chalets include five double rooms and four family rooms with en-suite facilities”
The Yew Tree Inn was relaunched as a steak bar in April 2017 becoming the Yew Tree Steak House Grill. However, the bar, separate from the 40-seat restaurant retains the atmosphere of a country pub with a log fire and a special feature of a large tank of brightly coloured tropical fish. Owner Pete Matthews said, “We decided on the change because a lot of pubs in the area are opening restaurants, but there are no steak houses, so we thought we’d offer something a bit different to attract new custom and of course for our existing regulars.”
Landlords at the Yew Tree Inn include:
1608 Thomas Dobbs
1838 Emmanuel Constance
1856 M. Thomas
1891 William Howells
1903,1906 John Woodward
1919 Alfred Henry Lane
1927,1939 Thomas Hy. Weaving
2005 John Richardson
2009 John Bagshaw
2010 Natalie and Steve Taylor-Pockett (moved from the Nags Head)
2012 Paul Williams
2017 Pete Matthews