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Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames Drybrook to Fetter Hill
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China Court, Morse Road GL17 9AT
The China Court, set at right angles to the road, is now a private residence with nothing to suggest that it was once a public house. I have found no details of the China Court after 1903, which suggests that it had closed before the outbreak of the First World War.

Sarah Wysom was the owner of the China Court Inn in 1891 and 1903. It was licensed as a beer house, free of brewery tie, and had an annual rateable value of £12.5s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. The occupying landlord in 1891 was E. Marfell and in 1903 Robert Yemm is in residence serving the pints. Robert was later to move to the Nelson Arms.

Crown Inn, Hawthorns GL17 9BS

The Crown Inn was situated in the hamlet of Hawthorns about half a mile to the north of Drybrook. The detached building is constructed of local sandstone and dates from 1832. The property is now residential and called the Old Inn.

The hamlet of Hawthorns straddled the Gloucestershire / Herefordshire border. It is said that the bar of the Crown Inn was in Gloucestershire and the lounge was in Herefordshire! There is also an unlikely tale that the bars even had different closing times!

It seems that the Crown Inn was under the jurisdiction of Herefordshire licensing authorities, it being listed in the parish of Hope Mansell.

Just to the west of the old Crown Inn is the southern portal of the 636 yard Hawthorns Railway Tunnel, also known as Euroclydon and Puddlebrook tunnel. This tunnel is possibly unique in railway history as, although the engineering works were completed, trains never passed through it. It seems amazing to think that the navvies working on the railway tunnel were labouring under harsh conditions for nothing! Still, at least they could quench their thirsts at the Crown Inn.

Hearts of Oak / New Inn, The Cross GL17 9EE

The New Inn (now the Hearts of Oak) is set back from the road at the centre of the village. It was established in 1838. It is a nicely proportioned rendered building with a central door flanked by two bay windows.

Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean owned the New Inn. It was designated as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £24.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. Closing time was at 10 pm.

When the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean put their tied estate on the market in 1923 the New Inn was described as ‘freehold and fully licensed, situate about two miles from the brewery and built of stone with rough cast and slate roof.’ On the ground floor there was a serving bar, tap room, sitting room, beer store, kitchen and pot house. The first floor comprised of a club room and five other rooms. To the rear and at the side there was a ‘stone erection of coach-house with tile roof, stabling for three, loft-over, closet, public urinal, stone erection of stabling, and brick pig cots situate at other side of the house is a small meadow and garden.’

Cheltenham brewed beers were supplied to the New Inn for many generations, through Cheltenham Original Brewery, then Cheltenham & Hereford, West Country Breweries and finally Whitbread / Flowers. A legacy of its past is a ‘Best in the West 1760 West Country Ales’ ceramic plaque still in situ at the Hearts of Oak. 1760, by the way, being the coincidental date of the founding of both the then independent Cheltenham and Stroud Breweries…. not the establishment of West Country Breweries as is often thought.

The New Inn was renamed the Hearts of Oak in the 1970’s. The name was chosen to incorporate the names of the public houses which once served the village.

In May 2007 landlady Lorraine Crowden told the Forester newspaper “almost all our trade is from the village and we have darts, crib and skittles teams, plus a popular quiz.”

An application to extend the opening hours of the Hearts of Oak was submitted by owners Admiral Taverns in 2014. A petition was organised in protest of the extended trading hours, but it was noticed by an officer of the licensing committee that many signatories were not residents of Drybrook. Other concerns related to the additional noise generated when leaving late at night and the potential to increase crime and disorder in the area. But councillor Graham Morgan said that he had not heard about noise issues or disturbances relating to the Hearts of Oak. The changes were approved, subject to conditions, to enable the Hearts of Oak to serve alcohol on the premises on Monday to Wednesday from 10 am to midnight, Thursday to Saturday 10 am to 1 am and Sunday between 11 am and midnight.

Admiral Taverns were looking for someone to take over the running of the Hearts of Oak in September 2014. The pub company had been handed the keys back by the previous tenant who had been resident for only 10 months. A spokeswoman for Admiral Taverns, who had been advertising for a new publican to run the pub for some time, said: ‘We are in the middle of the recruitment process and are looking for someone, or a couple, to run the pub and do the best for the community that it serves. We need the right type of person to enter into a business arrangement of this nature. To ensure that we get it right, it might take a little longer to fill the vacancy.’ She added, ‘Our vision is to get it opened up as soon as possible and bring it back to life. What we and the Drybrook community don’t want is a tenant who only stays for a month or two and goes again. We are looking for someone who wants to be at the heart of the community at the Hearts of Oak.’

The Hearts of Oak re-opened with new tenants on July 10th 2015 but within weeks of their arrival a neighbour complained about noise issues and other licensing conditions that he felt were not being adhered to. The complaint was investigated by the environmental protection and licensing team. The chairman of Forest of Dean District Council licensing committee, Councillor Richasrd Lepington, said, ‘This is the only pub in Drybrook and they are trying to make a go of it and make the pub the heartbeat of the village and want to do it properly and fair.’ In defence the landlady, Jackie Fieldhouse, told the ‘Citizen’, ‘It’s not been a rowdy pub since we opened it back up. We were really busy on our opening night, but most people had wandered off my midnight. We’ve never had to call last orders so far because everyone had gone home beforehand.’

Landlords at the Heart of Oak / New Inn include:
1876 Joseph Meek
1885,1902, George Moore
1903,1906 John Moore
1919 Jane Brain (Mrs)
1927 Arthur S. Elsmore
1937 Walter Virgo
1939 M. Virgo
2000 Chris, Pippa, Mel, Jane and Butch ?
2003 Robert Crowden
2005, 2007 Lorraine Crowden

Nelson Arms, Morse Road GL17 9AH

The Nelson Arms was situated to the south-west of Drybrook on the road from Ruardean to Nailbridge.

The owner of the Nelson Arms in 1891 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Nelson Arms is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Nelson Arms was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £19.10s.0d and it closed each night at 10 pm.

When the tied estate of the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean was put on the market in the 1930’s the sale details of the Nelson Arms read: ‘All that messauge or Inn known as the Nelson Arms situate at Morse Road, Ruardean, in the County of Gloucester all all outbuildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging comprising in the rear and at side two ranges of stabling, beer store, pot house, club room, brick closet, pig cot, public urinal etc., and all other out buildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging together with the site thereof and the land occupied therewith which said premises are now in the occupation of Albert Theophilus Matthews as tenant.’

Jayne Chalmers contacted me from Canada about her Great Grandfather, Robert Yemm. Robert had been landlord at the nearby China Court in 1903 and soon afterwards took over the Nelson Arms. He had nine children.

Jayne’s grandmother also worked in the the Nelson Arms. Jayne has in her possession an old clock that has the words ‘The Nelson Arms’ written in the face.

When the Nelson Arms was put up for sale as a going concern in August 2001, a price of £225,000 was wanted for a ‘large versatile accommodation to include bar, games room, lounge, inner function room with second lounge and dining room, skittle alley.’ There were four bedrooms on the first floor, an attached cottage and outbuildings, ample off-road parking and beer garden and formal gardens.

Diane Prestidge, landlady of the Nelson Arms in November 2003, had just split up from her husband, had two of her dearest friends die, and then caught a nasty strain of the flu. She was rightly fed up and decided that she wanted a helping-hand to run the pub. She placed a blackboard outside the Nelson Arms with this vacancy notice: ‘WANTED. PART TIME SINGLE WHITE MALE 40’S-50’s. MUST LIKE CATS AND HAVE A WICKED SENSE OF HUMOUR TO CHEER UP AN OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID, FLU-RAVAGED P----D OFF PUB LANDLADY!!! PREVIOUS APPLICANTS EX-HUSBAND NEED NOT RE-APPLY.’ Officers from the Racial Equality Council (Glosrec) and Forest of Dean Racial Incidents Group (FODRIG) requested Diane to remove the sign after it was reported as being racially abusive. An acting director of Glosrec said, ‘We were alerted to the sign by a member of the public and I drew it to the attention of FODRIG. I went to look at the sign myself with two people from the Forest group. It was advertising a vacancy for a bar assistant and it was obviously written by the lady who owns or is licensee of the pub with her tongue in cheek. We decided that it was offensive but unintentionally offensive. We thought that rather than make a big song and dance about it we thought we should knock on the door and explain that you can’t advertise for white staff or male staff. It breaks race discrimination and sexual discrimination laws.’ In response, the rather bemused landlady told the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ newspaper, ‘People who have come in here have seen it for what it is – a joke sign. I certainly wasn’t actually looking for a single white male, it was just a bit of fun. Anyone who knows me knows I like to do that kind of thing and none of us here are racially prejudiced. The council hasn’t said whether or not it will take any further action but if they do I will defend myself against it. I just feel it is ridiculous we pay for these people to do this kind of thing.’

The dispute attracted the attention of ‘Citizen’ columnists Martin Kirby and Vernon Harwood. In his column in the newspaper Vernon mused, ‘Despite being told that the board is a joke, that there is no job being advertised and Diane isn’t offering to pay anyone, Glosrec still insists it’s an offensive and racist ad. This is a prime example of a particularly threatening, odious and invasive type of political correctness. It’s normally practiced by humourless automatons who wouldn’t be out of place in George Orwell’s 1984. These are the sort of people who want to ban Christmas in schools and charity shops. They leap up and down when we talk about accident blackspots, Asian flu or a cover-up being a whitewash. It’s a creeping type of brainwashing which threatens our language, chips away at our heritage and rewrites our history. Worst of all, it brands anyone who objects as either a racist, a sexist, a bigot or an enemy of the truth.’ Martin Kirby pointed out, ‘All the black and Asian people I know would have seen the joke for what it was and forgotten about it. Still the Council for Racial Equality has saved Diane a great deal of money on advertising.’

The Nelson Inn closed in January 2006. In 2007 the property was put on the market for £465,000 with permission from the Forest of Dean Council to conversion into a three-bedroom home.

The boarded-up pub was set alight by arsonists on 29th November 2008, which destroyed the roof and half the building. A second fire took place in April 2009. A spokesman for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said, ‘It is being treated as arson and police are investigating, but at this stage we believe it was caused by youths getting into the premises and starting a fire. It’s not the first time and we have been called out to fires in different parts of the building. There are unforeseen dangers in derelict buildings so they are putting the crew and themselves at risk.’

Demolition of the forlorn and fire ravaged building finally took place in July 2014. A Forest of Dean councillor said, ’It is such an eyesore and residents will be relieved to see it taken down.’ Planning permission was granted for a block of four two-bedroom apartments to be built on the site.

Landlords at the Nelson Arms include:
1891,1903 William.W. Birt
1903 (or soon after this date) Robert Yemm (previously at the China Court Inn)
1939 Albert Theopholis Matthews
2003 Diane Prestidge
2004 Beryl Shadbolt

Rose in Hand, Morse Lane GL17 9BE

The Rose in Hand is first referred to in 1823 although an earlier reference simply calls the pub 'the house’. The pub is a true, yet somewhat surprising, survivor given its isolated location in an unclassified lane to the west of Drybrook. It is very much a locals’ pub and the meals consist of basic pub fare rather than elaborate gastro style menus.

The licensing book of 1903, detailing all the beer houses, alehouses etc in Gloucestershire, give reference to the owners of the Rose in Hand in Drybrook as ‘Lloyd & Co.’ Although not confirmed this is presumably Lloyd & Yorath, brewers at the Cambrian Brewery in Newport, Wales. The rateable value of the alehouse was £13.10s.0d. and the Rose in Hand closed at 10 pm. Lloyd & Yorath (Lloyd & Co.) must have bought the Rose in Hand to add to their small number of Forest of Dean pubs. Twelve years earlier in 1891 the pub was trading as a free house, with no brewery tie. E. Vaughan was the owner.

The Rose in Hand was featured in a ‘Citizen’ newspaper ‘Pubwatch’ review c.1999. Mother and daughter team Emma Fisher and Sally Smith were the new owners. At that time the Rose in Hand boasted three skittles teams – two ladies’, one men’s – plus league representation at darts and pool. The kitchen was in the process of being modified so that home-made meals and bar snacks could be served during the week. A small dining area with five or six tables was also planned. Sally told the ‘Citizen’, ‘Although we are making changes, we want the Rose in Hand to remain a local pub, and to retain a strong local atmosphere.’

A review in February 2006, following a Sunday visit by a family of three adults and two children, was quite complimentary: ‘The Rose in Hand is not on the main road and looks lost in time, but walk in and you’ll be welcomed by an open fire and friendly locals. On Sundays locals bring a dish of food- fried sweet potatoes, cheese and biscuits, sausages, crisps, onion bahjees – and you help yourself. You just put money in a box for a children’s charity.’ Of the pub food the reviewer wrote, ‘We went for a traditional roast. The food was delicious, large home-made portions and steamed vegetables. Sally the landlady even mashed-up beef and vegetables for my daughter, and pudding for her afterwards.’

An internet search for the Rose in Hand in May 2019 failed to get much up-to-date information, and their dedicated Facebook page has seen very little activity in some time.

Landlords at the Rose in Hand include:
1885 John Brain
1891 William Griffiths
1902, 1906 Thomas Baldwin
1919 Mrs Edith Maud Garnsworthy
1927 Thomas H. Nicklen
1977-1997(approx.) Tony Ryan
1998 Sally Smith (formerly ran the Nelson Arms)

Royal Oak, The Cross

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

True Heart, The Cross
The True Heart was opposite the Royal Oak on the other side of Hawthorns Road.

The owner of the True Heart in 1891 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the True Heart is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The True Heart was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £18.0s.0d and it closed each night at 10 pm.

When the Forest Brewery put all their pubs up for sale in 1923 the True Heart was described as a ‘freehold beer house.. situate about two miles from the brewery and occupying an important position at cross-roads’. The building was stone and rough cast and comprised on a serving bar, tap room, sitting room, kitchen, larder, beer store and pot house, etc. On the first floor were four bedrooms and a club room. To the outside of the property was a ‘yard with pair of folding gates, private WC, public WC, Urinal, Pig Cot, Wood Store’. At that time the property was of freehold tenure and was let to Mr W.J Morgan, ‘a tenant of aver 15 years standing, on Quarterly Tenancy at the reduced rent of £20.0s.0d. per annum.

The True Heart closed in the early 1970’s. The building was refurbished in 2003 by owners John James (builders) Ltd. Four other homes in the centre of Drybrook were redeveloped as part of the same housing project.

Landlords at the True Hart include:
1891 A. Rawlings
1903 John. E. Hughes
1923 W.J. Morgan
1937,1939 William Charles Roberts

Anchor Inn, Leominster Road, GL18 2AN
The Anchor Inn was located at Shakesfield, just to the north of Dymock, on the Hereford and Gloucester canal where it crossed the Leominster road. The canal opened in 1798 following the completion of the 2192 yard Oxenhall tunnel and emerged in a deep cutting near Boyce Court and its northwards course passed immediately west of Dymock village before curving by the Old Grange and Tiller's green to adopt a route close to the river Leadon. The Anchor Inn was probably built at the same time as the Hereford and Gloucester canal, initially serving the navvies constructing the canal and later boatmen. It is known that the landlord of the Anchor Inn in 1851 was also a coal dealer, so barges might call at the inn for fuel and, no doubt, liquid refreshment. However, the life of the canal was shortlived and the Great Western Railway utilised much of the course of the waterway for their Gloucester to Ledbury line which opened in 1885. The GWR Dymock station was closer to the village, and the so the Anchor must have suffered from a decline in trade.

In the twelve years from 1891 to 1903 the Anchor Inn was trading as a free house, and the annual rateable value of the beer house was £14.0s.0d. Elizabeth Jones is listed as the owner in 1891, with W.A. Welsh in occupancy, and George Jones the owner in 1903, with Rose Ann Welsh as the occupying landlady. Closing time was at 10 pm. I have found no other records pertaining to the Anchor Inn suggesting that it had closed before the First World War.

Beauchamp Arms GL18 2AQ

In 1856 a coach service is known to have left the ‘Plough Inn at Dymock’ for the Gloucester and Ledbury town markets, and there was a daily mail coach calling at the inn running between the two towns. Samuel Averill is listed at the Plough in 1851 when he was aged 60 and his occupation is described as inn keeper and farmer. In the 1876 Morris Commercial Directory it is referred to as the Plough Commercial Inn. Mrs Sarah Thurston was the occupying landlady, and she was still there in 1885. After that reference the Plough changed its name to the Beauchamp Arms.

The Beauchamp Arms was in the ownership of the Earl Beauchamp estate in 1891 and 1903. Categorized as an alehouse the pub was free from brewery tie and ‘time, gentlemen please’ was called at 10 each night. The annual rateable value increased by £5 from 1891, then set at £27.0s.0d., to £32.0s.0d. in 1903.

When the landlady of the Beauchamp Arms, Ann Evans, retired in 1996 following the death of her husband Ron it was feared that the pub might close for good leaving the village 'dry.’ George Henderson wrote in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper on 3rd May 1997: ‘Pub Watch – When villagers at Dymock talk about their village pub, they really know what they are talking about. For the Beauchamp Arms is the only pub in the country that is owned by the very community that it serves. The story of how the Beauchamp Arms staved off the threat of closure reads like the outline for one of the old Ealing Comedies. A shiver of horror ran through the community last year when the word went round – landlady Ann Evans had decided to hang up her apron. At that point the Beauchamp looked just like another country pub going to the wall. As the village’s only other pub, the Crown, had closed down about five years ago, it looked like villagers would have to walk the two miles to the Horseshoe at Brooms Green. In many villagers that would have been that, but Dymock folk are made of sterner stuff. Alarmed by the prospect of becoming a ‘dry’ community, parish councillors put their heads together and came up with a daring plan. If no one else wanted to buy their pub, why not buy it themselves. Eventually a deal was struck to raise £160,000 from the Public Works Loan Board to cover the cost of purchase, stamp duty and so on and the pub’s future was secured. It is now to be leased to a management company who will cover the 20-year repayments. New licensees Nick Line and Carol Ann Witts are now firmly ensconced, pulling pints and serving meals for all they’re worth. ‘We are now working to get the garden into shape’, said Carol. ‘At one time it won a best garden of the year award, but it’s been let go a bit over the years. We’re hoping to open it up to customers in about another month in time for the summer.’

More than 200 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Beauchamp Arms in June 1997. The party was sponsored by Identilodge, the management company running the pub on behalf of the council. The official opening was conducted by Kath Smith, who with her husband Jack ran the pub in the 1960’s and 70’s, and the last licensee Ann Evans. They were presented with flower arrangements. A steam engine, courtesy of Councillor Dave Prout, and a fair organ were also on display.

The celebrations were not to last long. The future of the Beauchamp Arms was put in doubt in June 1998 after the management company Identilodge went into administration. However, another company, Executive Inns of Newent was secured to run the finances. A new landlord and landlady had moved in the Beauchamp Arms in August 1997 (identities deliberately not mentioned here) and a dispute flared up between the tenants and the parish council. The council had argued that the couple had no tenancy rights since management company Identilodge went out of business. Rent was unpaid which necessitated an advance on the parish precept to help make the payments with a consequent doubling of the council tax which householders were due to pay in April. The dispute turned nasty when ‘squatters out’ was painted on the garage walls and abusive telephone calls were received by the standing tenants. The landlord said, ‘They are trying to intimidate us but we will not be forced out. They are breaking the law, not us.’ A long serving parish councillor member said,’ The council certainly does not condone any abuse or criminal damage and must try to prevent it. We have lost enough money already without losing any more. It has all got out of hand.’ It was reported in March 1999 that the tenants owed the council £10,500 and the amount was growing at the rate of £10,000 a month. The chairman of Dymock Parish Council said, ‘We are having to meet 16,000-a-year mortgage with no income coming in from the pub. Until the dispute is resolved we have no choice but to take further action through the courts.’

In a packed annual parish meeting in April 1999, parishioners agreed to write off £13,333 in back rent withheld from the council from the previous 10 months. The parish chairman said in front of the 130 Dymock residents that the tenants wanted to leave the Beauchamp Arms, but that the legal action to evict them had been unsuccessful. The judge had awarded costs against the parish council. He said, ‘We really do feel that Dymock is being held to ransom over this, and there is no doubt that the public do not wish to pay the tenants’ demand of £5,000 to move out. In the end the council agreed to waive the back rent of £15,000. The chairman said, ‘To fight this through the courts could cost us up to £30,000 more – on top of the £15,000 in back rent and the rent we would continue to lose as the case went on. It does not seem right to us, but we cannot afford to lose any more money.’

A grand party was held at the Beauchamp Arms on 4th June 1999 to welcome the new landlords, Ralph and Sally Palmer. A free barbeque was the highlight of the evening and a steam engine was on display outside the pub. A new management company, Neptune Pub Co. was now in place to secure the finances.

The final instalment on the loan was paid off at the beginning of June 2017 and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when the parish council stepped in to save the pub from closure the Friends of Beauchamp Arms (FoBA) held a village party on July 1st 2017 in the pub garden and on Wintour’s Green. Marston’s Brewery sponsored a ‘happy hour’ from 7-8 pm when beer and wine were sold at 1997 prices and the celebrations included music, barbeque followed by a disco. There was also a display of archive photographs and a video recording from 1997. Terry Ball, chairman of Dymock Parish Council said: ‘Since FoBA was set up by a group of villagers in April 2003 wishing to help the parish council with the improvement and maintenance of the pub, it has raised a lot of money which has been put to good use. One of the first improvements was the start of the window replacement programme which has made the building more comfortable and better protected against the weather.’

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

Landlords at the Beauchamp Arms include:
1891 T.R. Chew
1902, 1906 Mrs Martha Comeley
1919 James Townsend
1927 H.V. Edwards
1960’s – 1970’s Kath and Jack Smith
1996 Ann Evans
1997 Nick Line and Carol Ann Witts
1999 Ralph and Sally Palmer
2009 John and Linda Griffiths

Bell Inn, Bell Lane, Bromsberrow Heath HR8 1NX

The 1891 and 1903 licensing books lists the Bell Inn as being in the Parish of Dymock. Today Bromsberrow Heath is within the Bromsberrow and Dymock ward/electoral division, which is in the constituency of Forest of Dean, but has a Ledbury postal code (HR8). Bromsberrow Heath, located at the southern tip of the Malvern Hill range, is near the borders of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The M50 dissects the village close to the A417 junction 2.

The Bell Inn had a low rateable value of just £9.0s.0d. in 1891. Edward Gibbs was the owner and the Bell was a beer house free of brewery tie. Twelve years later in 1903 Edwin Gibbs is listed as the owner of the Bell (could Edwin be Edward’s son?) The annual rateable value had increased by £3 to £12.0s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. The lease of the Bell Inn had been taken by Lane, Bros & Bastow of the Vine Brewery in Ledbury. They also supplied their beer to the Anchor in Newent, the Horseshoe Inn at Brooms Green and the Glass House near May Hill.

The enumerator has listed John Woodhouse at the Bell Inn in 1891 and John Woodward at the Bell in 1903. An administrative error perhaps? Or maybe a coincidence of two near identical surnames.

In the late 19th century the Bell Inn was a meeting place of a Friendly Society which drew membership from Bromsberrow and Dymock.

The Bell called ‘last orders’ for the last time in 1991. The building is now a private residence called Bell House.

Crown Inn GL18 2AJ

In 1891 and 1903 the Crown Inn was listed as a beer house and the owner was Mrs Deane. In the twelve years from 1891 to 1903 the annual rateable value more than doubled from £12.0s.0d. to £27.0s.0d. A possible reason for the increase is that Ind Coope Brewery of Burton on Trent had taken on the lease by Edwardian times and may have expanded the property. In 1891 there was no brewery tie and the Crown Inn was a free house. Closing time was at 10 pm.

The Crown Inn closed c.1992. In its final years it traded as a free house selling Hook Norton Best Bitter and even gained an entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide in 1986,1987 and 1988. It is now converted into residential flats. (Crown Close).

Landlords at the Crown Inn include:
1885 Francis Edwin Stallard
1891 T.R. Chew
1903 Walter W. James
1939 Alfred Mayo

George Inn GL18 2AJ
There is a private residence in Dymock called the Old George (GL18 2AJ).

The 1851 census shows that the Cummins family were resident at the George Inn in Dymock. The licence of the George Inn was held by Hannah Cummins, aged 48. Her husband, James Cummins - aged 50, is listed as a farmer of 170 acres. They had a son, aged 12, who was also named James. It is likely that the James Cummings of 1876 was their son – aged 37. James Cummings senior would have been 72 in 1876.

It is known that the Wesleyans used one of the rooms in the George for their assembly.

The Gloucestershire licensing book of 1891 does not mention the George Inn.

Royal Oak, Greenway GL18 2DT
Greenway is a small hamlet on Ledbury B4216 road, one mile north of Dymock. The Royal Oak was put up for auction in May 1870 and it is not mentioned in 1891. More research is required to pinpoint the precise location of the Royal Oak. It is likely that it was on the crossroads of the B4216 and the roads leading off towards Much Marcle and Brooms Green. The Victoria County History gives information of a farmhouse at the Lynch, Ryeland..on the Ledbury Road north of Dymock village ‘was a public house in the mid-19th century.’

East Dean is an administrative area of the Forest of Dean that extends from Newnham on Severn in the south to Lydbrook in the north, including Cinderford. The original petty sessional divisional records listed all the pubs in the area under the parish of East Dean. It has been very difficult to locate some of the licensed premises, particularly when most of the off-licences have no name.

George Inn, Drybrook?
Simply listed as the ‘George Inn, East Dean’ in the 1891 and 1903 petty sessional licensing books, this establishment is proving hard to identify and confidently locate within the large and scattered parish of East Dean. The George had a license to sell intoxicating liquor off the premises only. In 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £14.10s.0d. The off-licence closed at 10 p.m. which tends to suggest that it was in a rural location. In 1891 S. Griffiths is listed as being the owner of the George Inn and it was operating free of brewery tie. The Nailsworth Brewery Company had bought the property in 1903, with James H. Cox in occupancy.

During my research I have found a reference relating to a document housed in Gloucestershire Archives (Ref: D2308 1/5). Unfortunately, I have only made a brief note of the information without cross-referencing it with dates. Apparently, there is a reference to the George Inn beer house, Drybrook where John Wilce is named in connection with the premises. Certainly, this corresponds to the written entries in the licensing book where the George Inn is listed within the same selection of pubs of those in Drybrook. In Heather Hurley’s book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ (Logaston Press 2004) she makes a brief reference to a beer retailer at the Cross. At the time of her research the premises was the Cider Press, an award winning licensed restaurant, which she claimed to have once housed a former cider house. The property is now a private residence. Was this the George Inn?

No name, Cinderford?
In 1903 the closing time if this establishment was at 11 pm, indicating that it was situated in an urban area – probably Cinderford. It was described as a beer house but limited to off-sales only. Free of brewery tie, this premises had an annual rateable value of £14.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. S. Baggs was the owner of the off-licence in 1891 and Martha Powell in 1903. More research is required to ascertain its actual location.

No name / ‘Hobbs’, Cinderford?
The premises closed at 11 p.m. which suggests that it was probably an off license in Cinderford. The property had an annual rateable of £10.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years R. Hobbs is listed as the owner of the beer house, restricted to off-sales only, and it was free of brewery tie. Further research is necessary to determine the precise location. Of note, however, is that George Critchley Hobbs was landlord of the Bridge Inn in Cinderford in 1919 and, in 1856 there is a G.Hobbs at the ‘Miners Arms Drybrook’.

No name / ‘Morse’
The property, classified as a beer house, had a license to sell alcohol off the premises only. The premises had an annual rateable of £14.10s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. The closing time was set at 10 pm which tends to indicate that it was not in an urban area. The Morse family ran the off-licence. William Morse was the owner in 1891 and Priscilla Morse in 1903. It was free of brewery tie. It may be a reference to another William Morse, but a man of that name was landlord of the Nags Head in Yorkley Slad in 1891. W. Morse is also listed as the owner of the New Inn in Ruspidge in 1891.

No name / ‘Meredith’, Cinderford?
The property had an annual rateable value of £15.10s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. Classified as a beer house and free of brewery tie, it had a license to sell intoxicating liquor off the premises only. It closed at 11 p.m, which suggests that it was probably in Cinderford. R. Meredith was the owner / occupier in the twelve years from 1891 and 1903. More research is required to find out exactly where this off-licence was. A search for the surname Meredith finds a M.A. Meredith at the New Inn in Littledean in 1903 (10 pm closing) and a Samuel Meredith at the Railway Hotel in Cinderford (also in 1903) which closed at 11 pm. Perhaps the same Samuel Meredith was at the Turks Head in Woodside Road, Cinderford in 1891.

No name / ‘Hewlett’, Cinderford?
This property, classified as a beer house, had an annual rateable value of £25.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. It was free of brewery tie and had a license to sell alcohol off the premises only. Closing time was at 11 p.m., which suggests that it was located somewhere in Cinderford. In 1891 and 1903 J.S. Hewlett is listed as the owner. A search for the surname Hewlett has failed to find any matches in the Forest of Dean. More research is required to locate the premises.

Plough Inn, Elton Road GL14 1JJ
It is thought that the Plough Inn was located on the left-hand side of the road heading towards Littledean just before the parish boundary with Popes Hill. The Greyhound Inn at Popes Hill would have been just a few yards away on the right side of the road. This area of Elton was known as Blackmore’s Hale and consisted of scattered cottages of which one housed the Plough Inn. In 1785 the inn was described as a ‘Messuage at Blackmores Hall known by the sign of the Plough with a garden orchard.’

The 1891 licensing book of Gloucestershire does not list the Plough, and it is likely that it had ceased trading by 1880. Sarah Barnett is listed as grocer and inn keeper in the 1851 census, aged 50. She was also there five years later in 1856. In the 1876 Morris Commercial Directory Charles Mitchell is listed as a beer retailer in Elton. Heather Hurley in her book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ suggests that the license of the Plough might have been relinquished in favour of the Greyhound Inn.

Travellers Rest, Elton Road GL14 1JQ
The Travellers Rest was located on the road to Littledean and Cinderford, a quarter of a mile from the junction with the A48 Gloucester to Chepstow Road. It closed in 1927. Bernard Edwards and George Barton were owners of the Travellers Rest in both 1891 and 1903. The licence had beer house status and the premises had an annual rateable value of £13.0s.0d. The Travellers Rest was free of brewery tie and closed at 11 pm, which might be considered surprising considering its rural location.

The property is now residential but still retains the name Travellers Rest.

Landlords at the Travellers Rest include:
1851,1861 Charles and Mary Townsend (Charles died on 12th June 1863, aged 65)
1863-1883 Mary Townsend (widow – Mary died on 14th September 1883, aged 96)
1891 William Taylor
1901,1903 William and Harriet Nicholls

George Inn GL16 7LU

Fetter Hill is a hamlet about a mile and a half to the south east of Coleford on the road from Parkend to Coalway. The area was once heavily mined for both coal and iron. Quarrying, stone works and brick making also took place near Fetter Hill. It is difficult to image a scene of industrial activity in the present-day rural landscape where mature trees now proliferate.

There were once two pubs in Fetter Hill to cater for the needs of the local workforce – the Royal Oak and the George Inn.

Elizabeth Blanch owned the George Inn in 1891 and 1903. Classified as an alehouse it had an annual rateable value of £14.0s.0d. and ‘last orders’ were called each night for the 10 pm closure. Although free of brewery tie in 1891 the lease had been taken by the Cambrian Brewery in Newport (Lloyd & Yorath & Co.) twelve years later in 1903.

The George Inn was immediately in front of the railway embankment carrying the Coleford branch line. At this point the railway was on a very steep gradient leading towards Coleford. The gradient was 1 in 30, which was extremely demanding for steam engines. The photograph above, courtesy of Ben Ashworth, shows two Great Western Railway pannier tank locomotives taking a coal train bunker-first up the gradient towards Coleford. They are working to their limit as clouds of white exhaust are seen billowing from their chimneys. You can almost hear the cacophonic roar as the two ex GWR steam engines struggle up the hill with their heavy load of coal. The branch line survived until 1967 and was mainly used to take ballast extracted from Whitcliff Quarry to the east of Coleford down the gradient to Parkend and on towards Lydney Junction to the main South Wales railway line. The route of the old railway is now a cycle path / footpath and the severe gradient is very noticeable cycling uphill towards Coleford.

Nestling in the shadow of the railway embankment undisturbed by the commotion is the humble George Inn; a typical forest pub with whitewashed exterior and slate roof. I must confess that as a train spotter and beer lover this isolated spot in the Forest of Dean must have been the nearest thing to heaven. Imagine supping rare pints of Lloyd & Yorath’s Cambrian Ales from Newport in Edwardian times in the backyard of the George Inn and watching and listening to the heroic exploits of the whining, hissing leviathans of the Great Western Railway heading up the gradient in a mild inebriated bliss. Or the squealing of the wheels and clattering of trucks on the downward descent.

Fred Cook from Nottingham contacted me in 2006 with his memories of the George Inn at Fetter Hill. He wrote: I can remember the George Inn from my childhood. I am now 60. In those days I used to go on holiday from London to the Forest of Dean with my parents and they took me into the George when they went for a lunchtime or evening drink. The elderly landlords of the George Inn were Mr and Mrs Barnard. Their daughter used to help out in the bar from time to time. The pub was simple and basic. There was a passage running through the middle of the building back from the front door to the back. There was no bar as such. Instead there was a beer-servery half-way along the passage to the right behind a wooden and glass partition. The main drinking room ran from the front of the building to the back on the left-hand side of the passage with doors in and out at the very front and back of the room. The furnishings were plain wooden benches and seats with old tables. There was a small room to the front of the pub on the right-hand side of the passage where a few ancient pub games could be found. I think there was an indoor quoits game. There was some singing on Saturday nights but I do not recall whether there was a piano of any sort. The beer was Ansells from Birmingham and there was traditional cider. I can remember being taken around the cellar which was situated at the back of the pub. There was a railway line immediately behind the George but I cannot recall seeing any trains during my visits with my parents. I think the pub closed down in the early to mid-sixties. It is sad that such traditional pubs have faded away.

The George was converted to a private house in 1973 but may have been closed as a pub for some time even then.

Landlords at the George Inn include:
1876 John Carter (George Inn, Futterill)
1885,1891 Richard Nelmes
1902 George Porter
1903 John W. Porter
1906 George Porter
1919 Edward Hale
1927,1939 James Barnard

Royal Oak
The Royal Oak was a tied house of the Redbrook Brewery. Eliza Burgham, proprietor of the brewery, is listed as owner in 1891 and twelve years later her son, Oliver Burgham, was the owner. The Royal Oak, a humble beer house, had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. It closed at 10 pm. Upon the retirement of Oliver Burgham in 1923 the Royal Oak was sold with eight other licensed properties belonging to the brewery for £9,700 to Ind Coope & Co., Ltd. of Burton on Trent.

An advertisement for Ind Coope & Allsopp Burton Ales stated that their ales could be obtained from the following houses.

Ross – Noah’s Ark Inn, Tudorville
Monmouth – Mayhill Hotel, Queens Head, Agincourt Hotel, Barley Mow, Bridge Inn, Bull Inn
Redbrook – Queens Head, Bush Inn
Penalt – Bush Inn, Boat Inn
Coleford – Prince of Wales Inn, White Hart
Fetterhill – Royal Oak Inn
Clearwell – Lamb Inn
Lydbrook – Courtfield Arms.

The Royal Oak was located on the bank almost opposite the George. It closed in 1954 and was demolished.

Landlords at the Royal Oak include:
1876 ? James Brown (listed as beer retailer, Futterill. No name of establishment)
1861 Richard Kearsley
1891 Daniel Nelmes
1903 Louisa Banks
1919 Richard Merry
1927 William Rudge
1931 William Jenkins (William was at the Royal Foresters in Mile End in 1935)
1935 Bill Rudge
1944 Don White (Don White later ran the Lamb Inn in Coleford, 1954)
1950-1952 Ivor Cox (Ivor Cox later ran the Rising Sun in Broadwell)

Gloucestershire Pubs
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