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Rising Sun, Abenhall Road GL17 ODY

Abenhall is a hamlet about half a mile to the south of Mitcheldean, on the road to Flaxley beyond the Dene Magna Community School. John Gwilliam is recorded as landlord at the Rising Sun in 1839. The ‘Gloucester Journal’ reported of a serious fire in 1865 which completely gutted the premises, describing the Rising Sun as a basic thatched cottage. Presumably it was not rebuilt and closed thereafter, although it was apparently insured. There are now two semi-detached stone-built cottages in Abenhall Road, with the address of 1 & 2 Sun House, which presumably have been built on the site of the Rising Sun. (GL17 0DY). The building stands alone with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside looking over to Plump Hill to the North-West. There would have indeed been spectacular sunrises looking east towards Blaisdon.

When one of the properties was put on the market in July 2001 it had an asking price of £195,000 and the particulars of sale gave the information that it had five bedrooms (with one en-suite). ‘This spacious semi-detached home is situated in a rural location in the historic Flaxley Valley. It was formed by conversion of an old public house and has large rooms and a split level format.’

Blacksmiths Arms, Main Road GL16 6AU

In 1876 the landlord of the inn was William Thorn, a blacksmith by trade, and the premises was listed as not having a name. Presumably the occupation of William Thorn gave the Blacksmiths Arms its name. Listed in both 1891 and 1903 as a beerhouse with an annual rateable value of £21.10s.0d., the Blacksmiths Arms was free of brewery tie and owned by Phoebe Thorn. Closing time in 1903 was 10pm. Phoebe Thorn is also mentioned at the pub in 1892. In 1939 Albert W.Thorn is recorded as landlord, so the pub was in the same family for at least 63 years.

The Blacksmiths Arms is an attractive traditional sandstone building with rendering on the upper floor, featuring raised stone lettering bearing the pub name. The Blacksmiths Arms have a dedicated website (as seen in April 2019) in which the following description is taken. ‘Situated in the village of Alvington on the A48 between Chepstow and Gloucester this traditional village inn features a character bar and snug room, two restaurants, a pool room equipped for darts, large garden with a children’s play area, and can provide accommodation or camping facilities.’

‘The Blacksmiths Arms originated in 1820 as cottage dwellings with fruit orchards producing local cider. Traditions of warming jugs of cider on the cast iron hobs are remembered to this day and the early Victorian fires and old wood panel seats have been retained to create an atmosphere of old-world charm. These days the Blacksmiths is well known throughout the area for its extensive and varied menu as well as a good selection of beers, wines and real ales.’

Globe Inn, Clanna Lane GL15 6BA

The Grade II listed Globe Inn, on the Clanna Lane junction with the main A48, dates from at least 1805 when a Friendly Society is recorded as meeting there. Although free of brewery tie in the 1891 and 1903 licensed premises documents, it appears that the Globe Inn was later acquired by the Bristol United Brewery, a business that was acquired by Georges' Bristol Brewery in 1956. In 1891 and 1903 the Globe, an alehouse, had an annual rateable value of £189.0s.0d, a considerable amount but the property did include 143 acres of land. Closing time was 10 pm.

The entire estate of Alvington, including the Globe, was owned by Daniel Higford Davell Burr. He had inherited the estate in 1836 and in 1849 also purchased the Aldermaston estate in Berkshire. He was elected Conservative MP for Hereford in 1837 and went on to become the High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1851. Daniel Higford Davell Burr was known to be an eccentric and is known to have kept monkeys and snakes.

Early landlords at the Globe include J.Holder (1856), R.Ebdon (1863) and from 1876 to at least 1919 the Wintour family were running the Globe. James Wintour is listed as both landlord and farmer in 1876 and from approx. 1902 until 1919 Albert Wintour was in residence (James’s son?). Miss Jane Taylor was recorded in 1923, Tom Luker in 1927, Frederick Bathurst Robbins (1935) and Walter Alexander Swift (1939). A recent landlord was Richard Newman who was at the Globe Inn at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The July 1978 edition of 'Real Ale in Gloucestershire' describes the Globe as a 'Comfortable Victorian Pub' with Whitbread PA and Draught Bitter sold on handpump. Traditional cider was also available. The Globe Inn is listed as a ‘freehouse’ in the CAMRA 'Pubs in Gloucestershire' published in 1990.

When the owner of the Globe Inn applied for planning permission for possible conversion into residential use in August 2008 it was feared that the pub would close forever. The owner reassured the local press that the Globe was "still open for food and drink for the foreseeable future" and dismissed the possible closure as malicious gossips and rumour. When ill health caused landlord George Newman to retire early the Globe Inn went for auction on June 1st 2009 with the asking price dropped from £725,000 to £450,000 in the hopes of generating a quick sale. In his design and access statement submitted to the Forest planners Mr Newman said that "the licensed trade is generally going through uncertain and difficult times with a number of established houses closing or in danger of doing so and the Globe Inn falls into this category. The pub has been marketed for a considerable time and there appears to be no interest in the site being acquired for use as a public house. There are two other public houses in Alvington and it is not therefore considered detrimental to such village amenities for the Globe to be converted into units of accommodation."

The Globe was still open for business at the end of June 2009 but must have closed soon afterwards. The Globe Inn was put up for auction again on 18th April 2012 with planning consent for the creation of five residential units but with an option of retaining the licence to continue operating as a pub. It was described as an extensive property 'currently arranged over three floors with numerous trade and residential rooms along with a garden, outbuildings, cellar and parking.' The guide price at the Public Auction was £175,000 to £200,000.

The future of the Globe as an operational pub was in serious doubt, but fortunately a group of local people purchased the property in 2012. The building then went through a complete renovation and re-opened in 2014.

The following is taken from the Globe Inn website: ‘The Globe Inn is a traditional pub and restaurant located in the village of Alvington on the edge of the beautiful Forest of Dean and close to the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are passionate about good food and we use locally sourced and seasonal produce whenever possible. We also have a good range of cask ales, lagers, ciders and wines. Our relaxing bar and restaurant areas feature oak beams and a log fire. For the summer months we also have a large sunny beer garden. The Globe is now a modern pub which has retained its traditional charm.’

Swan Inn, Cone Valley GL15 6AD

The Swan is located at right angles to the A48 midway between the villages of Woolaston to the west and Alvington to the east. The Swan has a pleasant aspect beside the Cone Brook. In the past the fast running stream has been used to power forges and paper mills. No doubt the Swan was once frequented by mill workers. The history of the pub can be traced back to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Thomas Taylor was the owner of the Swan Inn in 1891 and 1903 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was £15.7s.0d. and it was free of brewery tie. It closed at 10 pm.

The 1856 directory lists John James at the Swan Inn. In 1863 James Williams is recorded there who was also a fisherman. John Davis in 1885, and in 1894 Edward Davis was landlord who tragically was killed in the Boer War. Presumably his son Abraham Davis took over who is mentioned in 1897. The Estcourt family then had a long tenancy from at least 1903 when William R. Estcourt was in residence, Mrs N.E. Estcourt c.1930 and William Estcourt (son?) in 1939. In recent times Jennie Linham was at the Swan in 1999 and Trevor and Betty Morgan in 2000.

In 1999 the Swan Inn looked as if the fortunes of the pub were on the rise. There was a quiz night on Thursday, a bar disco on the second Friday of each month and karaoke on the first Sunday of every month. An article in the local press stated that ‘there is also a Tuesday night special, with two steaks and a bottle of wine costing a tenner – a saving of £20!’ ‘Things are also on the move outside the pub. The little stream has been cleaned out to provide a perfect setting for the extensive gardens and patio, and there is now space for five caravans for holiday makers visiting the district or passing through.’ The landlady added: “I like to think we are offering something for everyone – we even have a model railway club who are making their own layout here. It’s certainly getting busier and we are always pleased to welcome customers old and new.”

In April 2003 the Swan Inn was on the market – leasehold capital required £24,000. It was described as a main road destination inn enjoying exceptional setting, two good bars, restaurant (30), three bedrooms. Beer garden and car park. ‘Ideal ‘beginners’ house with favourable 10 year premium lease’. It was being sold by Admiral Taverns along with 19 other pubs in their portfolio.

The Swan Inn closed in the first week of September 2009. A farewell party was held late in August. Regulars were upset about losing two neighbouring pubs [The Globe] in a matter of months. A local Councillor lamented that ‘If the Swan closed for good, the Blacksmiths Arms would be the only pub left in the village, but added ‘It’s a real shame that pubs are going out of business but it’s a sign of the times. Pubs everywhere face exorbitant rents and cheap supermarket booze’.

In June 2010 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for ‘listed building consent for conversion, alterations and extensions to existing public house to licensed tea rooms with bed and breakfast facilities and living accommodation. (Part demolition of rear extensions).’ A spokesman for the FoD District Council said that ‘it is important to the applicant that the heritage of the Swan Inn should be respected and the character of the Grade 2 listed building should be retained.

The pub is now the Swan House Tea Rooms. Their website describes it as ‘the perfect venue to enjoy a morning coffee, glass of wine with a light lunch, cream tea or delicious home-made cake. Afternoon tea is our speciality. Fully licensed.’

No name – possibly Awre Railway Station, GL14 1ES
In 1876 John Thomas Bowen is listed as stationmaster at Awre railway station on the South Wales section of the Great Western Railway. The station closed in 1959 and no trace of it remains today. There was once a junction here – the Forest of Dean Central Railway which ran from Awre Junction station to New Fancy Colliery to the north-west of Parkend. Awre Station, midway between Blakeney and Awre, was never well patronised so it seems somewhat surprising that John Thomas Bowen should be recorded in the 1903 petty sessional licences as a beer dealer in Awre Parish some 27 years later. The premises had no name and was restricted to a six-day licence closing at 11pm. Presumably it was closed on Sundays. Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd owned the property and supplied beers from their Wickwar Brewery. In 1903 the premises had an annual rateable value of £22.10s.0d. Was Awre railway station licensed or was there another property nearby? The custom in either case must have depended on just a handful of travellers either waiting for or disembarking from trains, so such sporadic trade would have made the trade challenging. Little wonder there is no mention of the premises after 1903.

Red Hart, GL14 1EW

The Red Hart has been licensed since about 1483. It is thought that the original wattle and daub construction was built as a hostelry for the workers brought in to renovate the 13th century parish church of St. Andrew. The Red Hart has been added to and altered in a variety of architectural styles over the last few centuries. It seems to have been altered in the 17th Century.

Sir Thomas Rich’s Hospital in Gloucester owned the Red Hart in 1891 and 1903, and in those years the alehouse had an annual rateable value of £17.0s.0d. It was free from brewery tie. The Red Hart closed at 11 pm, which seems unusual considering its isolated rural location. The 1885 and 1906 directories list Samuel Pearce as occupier, and in 1919 Mrs Eliza Pearce (his wife?) was landlady. Mary Clara Awre (1927,1936) and Ernest C.P. Awre (1939) are then recorded at the inn. In more recent times George and Roma Price were mine hosts in the mid 1970’s and David and Dawn Howle in the mid 1980’s. Martyn Cocks was at the Red Hart in 1988 and in the early 21st Century Marcia Griffiths was in residence.

In 1937 an anonymous letter was send to a local newspaper by a resident of Awre that claimed that the village was ‘one of the ungodliest in Britain, a place where the church was empty and the pub full; where villagers drank nothing but beer and went on incessant outings and where children of eight or nine years of age where regularly given beer and cider to drink’. Mrs Cook from the village said that the people of Awre said that local people were quiet and docile and that there was never any rowdiness. It was true, she said, that some of the children were given beer and cider but only because the water was not fit to drink. Interest in the story spread and a reporter from the ‘Daily Herald’ was sent to Awre to investigate the claims. There were no scenes of juvenile intoxication to report and the story fizzled out. However, the mystery remained who sent the scandalous letter in the first place. It was eventually revealed that the writer of the letter was Wing Commander John Scorgie, a highly decorated RAF officer who was later promoted to Group Captain and awarded the BEM and OBE. The motive behind his campaign to darken the names of his fellow villagers and ridicule Awre is still shrouded in mystery.

In April 1956 a Mr Golden, of the Red Hart in Awre, was reported to be gradually working through a big building project. A report said that he was building a model village of Awre in a nearby field and had already completed two of the principle buildings of the village, namely St Andrews Church and the pub.

A unique feature of the Red Hart is a stone lined well in the bar area. One July evening in 1977 members of the Gloucester Diving School were invited to explore the well – regular drinkers at the pub would have been entertained and bemused by divers in wet suits sharing the public bar. Beneath the accumulated silt they found old coins, part of an old water pump and some building materials. The divers were able to determine that the old well was 29 feet and 6 inches deep and ‘belled out’ at its foot.

By 2001 the Red Hart was a dining pub. Given the fact that the pub is in an isolated location with no passing trade - and the population of Awre was only 1,714 in the 2011 census - positive marketing with the emphasis on good food was essential to ensure viability. On the menu was Charwood Chicken – oven baked chicken filled with smoked bacon and asparagus mousse, glazed with smoked cheese and served with red wine sauce.

Marcia Griffith bought the pub in 2005 and further promoted the Red Hart as a destination dining pub. Within a year Marcia and her team had gained an entry into the Which? Good Food Guide 2006. Dishes included sea bass, yellow tail snapper and red mullet or Earl Grey infused Brazilian crocodile tail. The pub had to close for significant renovation works that took place in 2008 with £40,000 spent on the project, but the reputation of the Red Hart as a popular dining pub was maintained when it reopened in the summer of 2009. The restoration of the bar area involved the removal of modern paint from the original wooden oak beams.

Sadly, Marcia was diagnosed with cancer that year and the doctors gave her less than six months to live. Tony Merrifield, appointed from the Swan Inn at Nibley, took over the running of the Red Hart whilst Marcia was having treatment. Marcia, aged 46, passed away peacefully on 29th December 2010. Mourners at her funeral were asked to wear pink in memory of the vibrant businesswoman. She was buried with the ashes of her beloved dog Jarvis and also the ashes of a life-sized wooden crocodile that she brought back from Papua New Guinea where she lived for a time in her 20’s.

The Red Hart opened again at the beginning of May 2011 with interim landlord Anthony Clements at the helm. It was reported in the ‘Forester’ newspaper that ‘the freehold goes on sale in two or three months and the pub will remain under the control of a management company until it finds a new owner’. It seems that the Red Hart closed soon afterwards.

In March 2013 it was reported in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper that pub owner, Ray Puttock, was looking forward to renovating the Red Hart at Awre in the summer after the buying the pub a year and a half ago. The Newnham-on-Severn district councillor said: “I’ve been raising funds and renovations are going to start in the summer. It’s a lovely building but needs about a year’s worth of renovation. However, the Red Hart remains closed.

Three Doves, GL14 1EQ
There is a reference to an inn called the Three Doves in 1824, but an unnamed beer house might have been operating at the same site since 1796. The inn, on the banks of the Severn serving river traffic, was located to the north-west of Awre in a hamlet called Hamstalls. The Three Doves had closed by 1830. Perhaps its demise can be attributed to the opening of the Gloucester and Sharpness canal, which made the River Severn passage redundant. An isolated property called the Priory is at the site of the Three Doves.

In 2018 the Priory was put on the market for £850,000 described as a ‘handsome Grade II listed country house set in excess of four acres of rural countryside in a unique riverside location having the advantage of a superb outlook over the River Severn. The accommodation in the house extends to three spacious reception rooms, hall and study, kitchen/breakfast room and five bedrooms.’

Butchers Arms, 71 High Street GL15 6DE
The Grade II listed property is now a private house tucked away just off the High Street in Wesley Close, at the side of the Aylburton Methodist Church. The Cross Inn is on the opposite side of the road.

The Butchers Arms beer house was tied to Arnold, Perrett & Co’s Wickwar Brewery and had an annual rateable value of £12.17s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. Charles W. Price was the occupier / landlord in 1891 who had a secondary occupation as a tailor. In 1903 tenancy of the Butchers Arms had been taken on by James Hopkins.  I have found no further references to the Butchers Arms after 1903. The present address is 71 High Street. 

Cross Inn, High Street, GL15 6DE

The Cross Inn is a large whitewashed pub sitting slightly back from the A48 Gloucester-Chepstow road. The 300 year old pub gets its name from the substantial 14th Century preaching cross in front of the building, where local people used to bring their produce for sale on market day. Today the Cross Inn is a traditional pub with cosy log fires and prides itself on offering a warm atmosphere, British inspired dishes and contemporary seasonal specials.

In 1891 Thomas Rowland was the owner of the Cross Inn beer house and it was free of brewery tie. Some twelve years later in 1903 the pub had been purchased by Godsell & Sons of Salmon Spring Brewery in Stroud. The Severn Railway Bridge had opened on 17th October 1879 which brought new opportunities for brewery companies such as Godsell’s, Nailsworth Brewery and Stroud Brewery to purchase pubs on ‘the other side of the Severn’. No doubt the acquisition of the Cross Inn was motivated by the ability to transfer beer by rail easily from the Stroud Valleys to the Forest of Dean. Stroud Brewery acquired Godsell’s brewery with their pub estate in 1928. The Cross became a West Country Breweries pub with the amalgamation of the Cheltenham and Stroud Breweries in 1958, and then evolved into a Whitbread pub.

The annual rateable value in 1891/1903 was £13.15s.0d. and the Cross Inn closed at 10 pm. In 1891 William Phelps is recorded as the occupier but was succeeded just a year later by Thomas Haddock (who was also there in 1903). Charles Henry John Edwards was landlord in 1939. At the turn of the 21st century Mike and Teresa Parnell were mine hosts. Richard and Emma Kemsley ran the Cross Inn in the mid ‘noughties’.

The Citizen newspaper featured the Cross Inn in their Pubwatch series in April 1999 when landlord Mike joked, ‘We don’t know the exact date of the building, but it’s certainly about 300 years.. almost as old as some of the customers!’ He added, ‘Nowadays it’s a food led pub because we have two excellently fitted kitchens and two chefs but at the same time it’s still very much a pub and we have crib and darts teams.’ The Cross Inn raised £560 for the Friends of Lydney Hospital charity in November 2000 when a bungee jump took place 200 feet above the pub’s car park, and to show the press photographer that Mike the landlord wasn’t afraid of heights the presentation of the cheque was handed over whilst standing on a table in the bar!

A ’Best in the West’ ‘West Country Ales’ ceramic plaque is still in situ at the Cross Inn.

George Inn, High Street, GL15 6DE

The George Inn is a sandstone building on the A48 on the junction with Church Road.

In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the George is listed as an alehouse being free of brewery tie. The owners are detailed as the Representatives of Mrs Stephens. The annual rateable value was £32.15.0d. and the George closed at 10pm. The Birks family were in residence at the George for at least 30 years. Joseph Birks is listed in 1876 and William Charles Birks (Joseph’s son?) was landlord in 1885 and 1906 references. In 1919 Henry Howard Davies was at the George Inn and the 1939 Directory lists Frederick Edmund Hyde. In recent years Derek Smallman & Gill Dennis (2001) have been mine hosts. Today the George is run by Ian and Carole Lilley.

In October 1999 an old stone building next to the pub was renovated to form an annexe to the George Inn. The building had been rendered and the conversion revealed the original stone. The owner at the time, Anthony Baber, said: “It has always been known as the Old Brewery but that isn’t necessarily what it was – it is such an old building it might have had several uses.” An old air raid shelter was found during the building works. The annexe is now called Millingbrook Lodge and offers en-suite facilities to all 14 rooms ranging from twin to king size.

The Millingbrook Lodge website states that The George Inn ‘serves a selection of fine locally sourced real ales along with draught beers, lagers, ciders, a range of wines and spirit combined with great home-cooked meals which can be sampled in our comfortable and welcoming lounge, restaurant and bar. The landlord Ian and his team keep an impeccable cellar and continue to offer award winning service.’ ‘The George Inn prides itself on great service, fresh home-cooked meals, a forest famous reputation for great value for money and has a ‘second-to-none’ standing with the local community.

An ’eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in March 2011 concluded that ‘the pub’s winning formula of value for money not only draws crowds to the carvery but has won them three awards recently including one of the top 100 businesses in the UK, and most loved business in the Forest.’

Hare and Hounds GL15 6BU
It is known that the Hare and Hounds was located at the north-eastern side of Aylburton, that it had opened by 1796 and two friendly societies met in the pub at that time, but other than that details are sparse. The Hare and Hounds is not listed in the 1891 licensing book of Gloucestershire suggesting that it had ceased trading by then. The building was demolished in the mid 20th Century, so the precise location is not determined. I would suggest the Hare and Hounds was approximately opposite Maplefield at the Lydney side of Aylburton, not far from Taurus Crafts. In 1840 the pub was owned by Charles Bathurst and Richard Evans was in residence, and Andrew Young is recorded as landlord in 1856 and 1861 references.

Travellers Rest, Lower Common GL15 6DU

The Travellers Rest, in a quiet location by the Ferneyley brook at Lower Common to the north of Aylburton, might be familiar to some as the Besom Inn, the name it carried in the last few years of trading before it closed in 1989. A besom is a broom made from a bunch of sticks – the classic ‘witches broomstick’, but why the Travellers Rest changed identity isn’t known.

The succession of breweries supplying beer to the Travellers Rest is interesting. In 1891 the pub was owned by Charles Garton & Co. of Easton Road, Lawrence Hill, Bristol. In turn they were acquired in 1898 by the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery of Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Anglo-Bavarian brewed lager style beers, probably similar in style to the ‘golden ales’ of today. (Incidentally the word ‘Bavarian’ was dropped from the title during the First World War.) Trading ceased in 1921 and the Anglo Brewery pub estate (including the Travellers Rest) was sold to the Cheltenham Original Brewery and Arnold Perrett of Wickwar. The pub was later part of the West Country Brewery estate – a ceramic ‘Best in the West’ plaque is still in situ, and then Whitbread before becoming a free house.

In 1891 and 1903 the pub had a beer house status with an annual rateable value of £13.15s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. Thomas James was landlord in 1885, William Jones in 1891, William Morse is listed in 1902 and 1906, and Charles Davies was serving beer at the Travellers Rest in 1939.

The pub is now a private residence and a hedge has grown around the property since its days as a licensed house.

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