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Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames Gatcombe to Kilcot
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Ship Inn GL15 4AU
Gatcombe is a small village on the banks of the River Severn. It was once one of the Forest of Dean’s busiest ports and the waterfront once had a quay, pier and a slipway. Timber was shipped to Plymouth from here for the construction of ocean going sailing vessels. There was also a thriving salmon fishing industry

The Ship Inn was an early 19th century hostelry located at the property now called the Court House, on the west side of the hamlet of Gatcombe, standing above the riverside. It is known that the Ship was the meeting place for the Etloe Duchy Manor Court. When the Ship Inn closed in the late 1820’s or soon afterwards, the property became known as the Court House. The building, though largely of the 19th century, incorporates an early 17th-century range, which includes a room with moulded and chamfered beams.

Historian and retired teacher Ann Bayliss passed away in February 2008. She was born in Gatcombe and lived in the house that was once the Ship Inn. It had been in her family since 1878. Her great grandfather moved to the Severnside hamlet of Gatcombe to become a salmon fisherman and ran the pub in its heyday, making cider from local apples in the attached cider house.

Sloop Inn GL15 4AU
It is thought that Sir Francis Drake, the famous Elizabethan mariner, briefly resided at Gatcombe. He may have been visiting Sir William Wintour, a Vice-Admiral of the Fleet, who lived in Lydney. Perhaps Sir Francis Drake was just making sure that the oak timbers felled from the Forest of Dean for shipbuilding were up to his expectations.

In 1763 the riverside house that Sir Francis Drake had resided in had become an inn called the Gatcombe Boat. By the 1830’s the inn, on the east side of the hamlet, was known as the Sloop.

Heather Hurley writes in her book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ that in 1843 the ‘well frequented inn called the Sloop’ was for sale as part of the Hagloe and Poulton Court estates, and was acquired by one of the morgages, Nathaniel Morgan, from Ross on Wye. He resold the estate to the Crown Commissioners in 1853, and from 1863 Mrs Maria Wiggell kept the Sloop until it closed as an inn around 1880.

In 1850 the Great Western Railway were constructing the line from Gloucester to Chepstow and onwards to South Wales. The route of the railway followed the banks of the River Severn for three miles. At Gatcombe the railway was built directly across the riverside frontage, destroying the pier and slipway. The remains of the quay still exist on the landward side of the railway but are now heavily silted up. The railway engineers built an arch to allow fishermen and boat owners access to the River Severn but when the South Wales Railway was opened in September 1851 Gatcombe was no longer a port. After the trade from the port had declined and the navvies had finished working on the railway the Sloop Inn was left in isolation which may have been the reason for closure.

The 16th century building is now known as Drakes House.

Landlords at the Sloop Inn include:
1763 Richard Caple (Gatcombe Boat Inn)
1856 W. Wiggell
1876 Mrs Martha Wiggell

New Inn / Roadmaker Inn, Forty’s Pitch HR9 7SW
The Roadmaker Inn is located on the B4221 just to the east of Junction 3 of the M50. The Gloucestershire / Herefordshire county border runs through Gorsley and the Roadmaker Inn is on the Herefordshire side, just a few yards outside the Gloucestershire boundary. There are no records of the premises in either the 1891 or 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books, confirming the pub was in the Herefordshire administration.

Originally called the New Inn, it had a change of identity in 1976 to become the Roadmaker Inn. Landlord Bill Pierce told ‘Citizen’ reporter David Browne in a Pubwatch feature in 1997: “It doesn’t have anything to do with the M50, which is just down the road from here. The pub was built in 1847 and is named after a local man who built roads with chippings from a nearby quarry, which has long since closed. He built the New Inn as a place where he could brew cider and breed pigs – and probably retire to.”

In 2006 four former Gurkha soldiers took on the running of the Roadmaker inn. Together they clocked up a total of 76 years together in the 1st Royal Gurka Rifles. The pub now has a reputation for the excellence of its Nepalese dishes and its popularity means that to dine at the Roadmaker it is advisable to book in advance. There is a large bar area where meals are served. The restaurant overlooks the pub gardens.

A dining review in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper in October 2012 noted that ‘on one side of the building you have a very English looking inn but venture into the lounge bar and it has all the red carpet and golden guiding of a town centre curry house.’

The pub sign is still housed in an ornamental metal bracket, which features the castle trademark of the Cheltenham Brewery (West Country Breweries). There is also a ‘West Country Ales - Best in the West’ ceramic ornamental plaque still in situ.

Landlords at the New Inn / Roadmaker Inn:
1939 George Charles Stevens
1994,1997 Bill and Joan Pierce
2006,2009 Dil Thapamager, Keshar Sherchan, Ratna Rana & Ganesh Sherchan

Junction Inn, Northwood Green GL14 1PL

The name refers to the junction of the old Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Railway and the main South Wales Railway between Gloucester and Newport. There was a Railway Station at the junction, which opened on the 19th September 1851 and closed 113 years later in November 1964.

The original Junction Inn was located just to the north of Grange Court station. It was a simple brick-built ale house, free from brewery tie. An old photograph shows landlord and owner Philip Woodman contentedly standing at the doorway of the pub with his dog. There is a well cared for vegetable garden. In 1891 the annual rateable value of the Junction Inn was £19.15s.0d.

The Junction Inn closed at 11 pm, perhaps surprising considering its rural location. The annual rateable value in 1903 had increased to £38.0s.0d. It seems that Philip Woodman, who was also a local farmer, was something of an entrepreneur as he had transferred the license of the Junction Inn to larger premises south of the Railway Station. He sold the pub to Henry Jackson who, in turn, sold it to the Stroud Brewery Company.

The Gloucestershire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale in their 1996 booklet ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ gave this summary of the Junction Inn. ‘Alongside former rail junction; old rail photos and crests adorn the two bars. Skittle alley and outside function room. Patio available for barbecues. Children’s play area and adjoining caravan / camp site. Guest beers. Lunchtime food only on Sunday. Evening food Thursday to Saturday.’ The beers on offer at the time of the research were Crown Buckley Best Bitter and Crown Pale Ale.

The Junction Inn is easily identified as it has the old station sign ‘Grange Court Junction’ proudly displayed on the front of the pub. The pub is still trading but it would be fair to say that searching the internet has found little details relating to the Junction Inn. The Facebook page has not seen much activity in the past year or so, and although the food ratings seem very good, there is no promotion of any food being served at the Junction Inn. Similarly, there is no signage on the A48 advertising the pub. Opening times are now also limited being restricted to weekends and the occasional weekday skittle match.

Landlords at the Junction Inn include:
1876, 1903 Philip Woodman
1906,1919 Henry Jackson
1927 Robert J. Currie
1939 Hubert C. Hancock
1965 Mrs F. Hill
1986 Brian Rowe and Tony Ephram
1987 Glen Jones

Carpenters Arms, Tumpkinhales GL15 6UR
Tumpkinhales was the name of a crossroads about a quarter of a mile west of Hewelsfield. It was strategically important many years ago as a transfer point where goods that had been unloaded from barges at Brockweir on the River Wye were taken up the steep valley slope by donkeys and then transferred to horse and cart for the onward journey to Chepstow and other destinations. An inn had been established at Tumpkinhales by 1830 to take advantage of the passing trade. References in 1865 and 1868 are to the Tumpkin Hales Inn.

Today the crossroads on the B4288 Chepstow to St Briavels Road is in the middle of the countryside. Church Road leads eastwards to Hewelsfield village and the road leading westwards from the crossroads goes down the Wye Valley to Brockweir. It is impossible to imagine the bustle of activity that once took place in this isolated location. The Carpenters Arms was located on the north-western side of the crossroads.

The Carpenters Arms was classified as an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. John James Pritchard was the owner and occupier in 1891. The free house was sold to Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd., Wickwar Brewery in 1897. In late Victorian / early Edwardian times this voracious South Gloucestershire brewery had acquired more Forest of Dean pubs than any rival brewer. In 1903 ‘Time, Gentlemen Please’ was called at the pub for closing time at 10 pm.

It seems likely that John James Pritchard of 1891 was the son of John Pritchard of 1851. John Pritchard was aged 51 in the 1851 census. He would have been 91 years old in 1891!

The Carpenters Arms closed c.1965. The B4228 was improved in the early 1960’s and as the road was quite fast at this point and its potentially dangerous location on a crossroads may have been why it closed down. The building had been demolished by 1970.

Landlords at the Carpenters Arms include:
1851,1885 John Pritchard (aged 51 in 1851 census)
1891 John James Pritchard
1902, 1906 Thomas Keedwell
1919 Charles Edwards
1927 William Hall
1939 Chas. J. Vincent

Parrot Inn, Churchyard GL15 6UH

The Parrot Inn was in the village of Hewelsfield close to the church. It is documented that a friendly society met at the Parrot in 1805. It sold beers from the local Redbrook Brewery; Eliza Burgham, proprietor of the Redbrook Brewery, is recorded as owner of the Parrot Inn in 1891 and 1903. It had an annual rateable value of £12.17s.6d. and was classified as an alehouse. Closing time was at 10 pm. I have not seen any references to the Parrot Inn after 1906, which suggests that it had closed by the time of the outbreak of the First World War. The two-storey house on the east side of the churchyard that once housed the Parrot Inn bears a date stone of 1706.

Landlords at the Parrot Inn include:
1876 John Thomas (also listed as a timber merchant)
1885 George Scrivens
1891,1892 Samuel Morris
1902,1906 Nehemiah Moulton

Poolfield Arms?, GL15 6UW
There is a reference to a Poolfiels Arms (sic) in the 1892 Chepstow Commercial Directory. Frederick Rugman was in occupancy. However, there is no mention of a licensed premises of the same name in the contemporary petty sessional records of 1891.

It is possible that this hostelry might have been situated just to the south of Hewelsfield where there is a Poolfield Court House and Farm.

Rock Inn GL16 7NY

An early1839 reference to the inn at Hillersland lists the premises as having the name of the Cock. John Delaney (junior) was the owner. It is not known if the pub ever traded as the Cock Inn - perhaps it was just a simple administrative error. When James Gwilliam was landlord a few decades later the pub was recorded as the Rock Inn. The name makes sense as the pub is on the route to the famous Symonds Yat rock outcrop.

Visitors to Yat Rock in late Victorian times might have called in to the Rock Inn and sampled a few pints of Charles Garton & Co’s Bristol beers. In 1891 Garton’s Lawrence Hill Brewery in Bristol owned the Rock Inn. It was designated alehouse status an had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. The license stipulated that closing time was at 10 pm.

Anglo-Bavarian Brewery from Shepton Mallet, Somerset had acquired the estate of Charles Garton & Co. including the Rock Inn by 1903. The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery also owned several other pubs in the Forest of Dean at this time including the Bailey Inn at Yorkley, Rising Sun at Moseley Green, Queens Head in Lydbrook, Travellers Rest in Aylburton, and the Railway Inn and Riflemans Arms in Lydney.

The 1993 edition of CAMRA’s Real Ale in Gloucestershire described the Rock Inn as a ‘17th century inn with good views’. Draught Bass and Wadworth 6X were the beers on offer. The Rock Inn closed on 1st June 2002. It was converted to Bed & Breakfast accommodation.

In November 2009 an application was submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council for change of use of the skittle alley and function room to three bed and breakfast rooms.

When the property was put up for sale in 2017 for an asking price of £895,000 the particulars of sale stated that the one-time country pub ‘The Rock’, ‘has been converted into a very spacious family home with a successful four-star holiday business attached. The letting rooms include two purpose built individual self-catering chalets, one single letting room, and an attached cottage divided into four en-suite letting rooms. The accommodation is finished to a high standard throughout. A bright and cheerful breakfast room / lounge is available for the use of guests, as is the hot tub and the peaceful gardens. The large four-bedroom family home is self-contained. The separately fenced paddock has a stable block. The property has a large carpark. The Rock presents a very flexible package, a family home, a readymade business in a great location, an exciting life-style choice.’

Landlords at the Rock Inn include:
1839 John Delaney (Jnr) (Cock Inn)
1876, 1891 James Gwilliam (also listed as a grocer in 1876)
1902, 1906 Levi Harris
1919,1927 Arthur Cooper
1939 Charles James
1960’s / 1970’s Mr S. Harding

Red Lion, North Road GL19 3DU

The Red Lion Inn, on the A40 Gloucester-Ross road, is thought to date back to the 17th century. Deeds for the property date back to 1732 and 1757 and it is mentioned as a coaching inn on the Gloucester to Hereford toll road.

The annual rateable value of the Red Lion appears to show some discrepancies as in the twelve years from 1891 to 1903 the rates are shown to decrease by £30. In 1891 the rateable value of the alehouse is documented at a substantial £61.0s.0d, yet in 1903 the rates are set at £31.10s.0d. In those intervening years the pub had been sold to the Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. Wickwar Brewery by B.St. John Ackers, who had run it as a free house. Closing time was set at 10 pm.

An inventory taken in 1903 lists a front hall, club room, smoke room, tap room, larder or dairy, kitchen, and seven bedrooms. Outside was a fowlhouse, stable, coal house, orchards with fowl, chaff house, cider house with trough, granary, spirit room and a painted swinging inn sign with ironwork supports.

A photograph of the pub taken c.1930 shows that there was a garage - the Westgate Motor House Co. - attached to the pub. Those were the idyllic days of motoring and presumably not a second thought was given to the fact that car owners could fill up with petrol, pop into the pub for a few pints of Cheltenham Ales and then happily resume their journey.

In March 1973 the landlady became suspicious after two Irishmen asked if they could leave their car in the pub car park for a couple of days. She alerted the authorities and a full-scale bomb scare was initiated which temporarily closed the pub.

A fish and chip shop opened in the Red Lion in February 2009. The takeaway service was introduced in response for a demand from their regular customers and the challenges of the credit crunch. Chef Kate Norton said, ‘We wanted to try out a new idea and give the locals what they asked for. It’s been absolutely brilliant, people have said what a wonderful idea it is and are really happy they don’t have to travel out of the village to get fish and chips.’

A roof collapse at the property in early 2011 was a financial burden for the tenants of the Red Lion and, without the necessary capital for remedial works, it was a contributory factor to its closure. The tenancy was taken on by Lee and Debbie Christie who had been running the George Inn in Newent. Debbie said, ‘It will be great to get the pub open again because it’s been closed for a while now and the locals have nowhere to go. Pubs are having a tough time, but we are confident we can make this work.’ The Red Lion re-opened in February 2011.

The Red Lion closed again in October 2012. The tenants had fallen foul of the excessive rental demands of the owning pub company, Enterprise Inns. A resident of Huntley told a ‘Citizen’ reporter, ‘It’s such a shame. The village will be devasted because it really was the hub of the community. Loads of us locals used to call in to chill out for an hour after work and Lee and Debbie were fantastic landlords’. Another villager remarked, ‘It is very upsetting. I heard it was all down to the brewery. The rent went up after the first year so no matter how hard they worked, they could not make any money.’ Enterprise Inns stated that they had paid around £20,000 to fix the collapsed roof so that the couple could re-open the closed down pub.

Enterprise Inns ran an ‘open day’ at the Red Lion at Huntley in October 2014. The marketing advertisement read, ‘Are you thinking of running your own business? Invest in yourself and we will invest in you. We are the largest pub company in the UK. Our on-going investments help to create business opportunities. Could you be a part of this? Run your own pub business! With access to the finest support and training from day one. This is not just a business it could be your home. Come and join us.’

Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1876 James Dobbs (also a farmer)
1885 Mrs Mary Ann Amoyl
1891 W.H. Drinkwater
1902, 1903 Julius Bawman (Julius Baumann in 1903)
1906,1919 William Rees Harry
1927,1939 Geo. William Thomas
1973 Jill Bollen (Mrs)

  • John Phillips

1996 Steve and Jill Pugh (moved to the Glasshouse Inn, May Hill)
2010 Jim and Audrey Norton
2011 Lee and Debbie Christie

Yew Tree, North Road
In 1903 the pub was a rare outlet for W.J. Rogers’ Bristol brewed beers. The Yew Tree was owned by Mrs J. Haile but leased to Rogers Ales. John Phelps was the occupying landlord. The premises, licensed as a beer house, had an annual rateable value of £19.10s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. The Yew Tree was later acquired by Francis Wintle, of Mitcheldean. It was described by the Forest Brewery as a 'very attractive property, and stone built, with slate and tiled roof... just off the main road.’
Albert Inn GL16 7AR
Joyford is a small hamlet to the immediate north-east of Berry Hill. The Albert Inn was situated near the road junction at bottom of the steep hill on the unclassified road towards English Bicknor.

The Harrison family were owners of the Albert Inn at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century. The premises had beer house status with an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. Charlotte Harrison was the owner and occupier in 1891 when the Albert Inn was trading free of brewery tie. Twelve years later the lease had been acquired by John Arnold & Sons of the High Street, Wickwar, with John Harrison listed as owner. In 1903 closing time was at 10 pm.

In 1905 the local newspaper, the Forest of Dean Guardian, reported the death of a Mrs Smith, who had died at the Albert Inn. She had lived there for some time, being a relative of the licensee. Grantley Kear was the tenant in 1909, and he was charged with supplying beer in an improperly sealed bottle to a child under the age of fourteen. Part of the licensing laws passed in 1902 covered this misdemeanour, known as the Child Messenger Act. Grantley Kear was fived five shillings and costs.

Grantley Kear was replaced by Martin Howell, who was affected by conscription in the First World War. His wife, as were all publican’s wives, was given a protection order until their husbands returned. So Emily Howell ran the pub until Martin returned in 1922. He took up the licence and retained it until 1936, when his widow took up the licence once more.

The Albert Inn closed c.1952.

The whitewashed property is now residential and is called Albertin. The building was put up for sale in June 2001 for a guide price of £325,000. The particulars of sale mentioned that the old pub still retained many attractive features such as exposed beams and a spiral stone staircase. ‘It stands in its own formal gardens and grounds of approximately six acres together with a range of useful outbuildings which include a double garage, stone barn, three stables and a feed store. The property itself comprises a large reception hall, dining room, living room, study, kitchen, laundry room, cloakroom, breakfast room, four bedrooms and two bathrooms.’

Landlords of the Albert Inn include:
1891 Charlotte Harrison
1900,1903 Thomas Howell
1908 Grantley Kear
1909 Martin W. Howell
1917 Emily Howell
1922 Martin Howell
1936 Emily Howell

New Inn / Britannia Inn / Dog and Muffler GL16 7AS

The Dog and Muffler is in an isolated position in the hamlet of Joyford. It has a history that can be traced back to at least 1838. James Hall, a brewer and maltster from Redbrook*, was the owner in 1838. At that time the pub was called the New Inn and John Hill was the resident licensee. (*Note: I have not found any other reference to a brewer and maltster from Redbrook called James Hall)

When the 1891 petty licensing book was issued containing the names of pubs in Gloucestershire, the New Inn had been renamed the Britannia. The pub was a basic beer house with an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. The Britannia Inn was owned by the Fox family. The executors of the late Edward Fox are listed as owners in 1891, with presumably his son Frederick George Fox taking ownership of the property in 1903. Free from brewery tie it is thought that cider was being produced at the pub for consumption on the premises. An ornamental cider press in the garden of the Dog and Muffler is probably the original. Closing time in 1903 was 10 pm.

A ‘Citizen’ newspaper ’Pubwatch’ review of the Dog and Muffler in 1999 written by David Browne gave this account: ‘There has been an ale-house at Joyford for as long as anyone can remember. Joyford lies between Coleford and Berry Hill and boasts a very good pub which currently lacks an inn sign. But locals do not need to be reminded of its name – it’s the Dog and Muffler (formerly known as the Britannia). The building – or at least a part of it – dates from medieval times. It first saw life as an old cider house and then become a traditional pub. At its zenith, in the earlier years of this century, it was a very good one indeed. But it did not keep up with the times. When Dennis and Nadia Brain took it over nine years ago, they recognised that the Dog and Muffler had to reflect changing trends. The building was extended and a new conservatory restaurant, en-suite bedrooms, bar, kitchen and toilet facilities were added. Old and new sit easily together here. The oak-beamed lounge bar, with its open-hearth fire, retains much of the much of the atmosphere of a traditional English pub. Food, as well as drink, has become a major attraction – not only for locals but also for holidaymakers and visitors to the area.

A free house, the Dog and Muffler offers popular beers, a choice of real ales – Sam Smiths, plus a guest – and, remembering its origins, cider (but not scrumpy) from Herefordshire and Somerset. The pub also boasts a play area, a beer garden and a large car park.

But what about the dog and muffler? Where did this unlikely combination come from? “You’ll find the dog – or rather its head – above the fire breast in the Stable Bar,” says Nadia. “It’s actually a Tibetan mastiff, which we think once belonged to a doctor in Lydbrook. The knitted woollen muffler round its neck bears the colours of Berry Hill Rugby Club. It was installed by a previous landlord, Edgar Hillman, who still lives locally. If nothing else, it is a good talking point, and never fails to intrigue visitors.”

The Dog and Muffler made unwelcome front-page headlines in the local newspaper ‘The Citizen’ in November 2001 when a mother-of-two from Coleford was asked to stop breast-feeding her six-week old son whilst her family were dining in the restaurant. The manager requested that the mother fed her baby elsewhere on the premises, intimating the toilet. He said, ‘I don’t think a restaurant is the most appropriate place to sit there breast-feeding. I can understand she has needs but to start feeding in a restaurant without even asking permission was inappropriate.’ The Citizen contacted a few pubs and restaurants to ask their opinion on the subject and one publican gave the amusing remark: ‘As long as they don’t flap their boobs out everywhere I don’t mind – it’s perfectly natural.’

In February 2003 a chef working at the Dog and Muffler called a taxi at a quarter to six in the morning and left the premises, never to be seen again. The following morning it was discovered that over a thousand pounds was missing along with a laptop computer, CD’s and clothing. After five years on the run the ex-chef gave himself up telling police that he could ‘no longer face carrying it around on his shoulders’. He told the police ‘At the time I had a drug problem and was taking cocaine and Ecstasy. But I have been clean for four years and I have got a good, stable job and am very happy. I don’t know why I committed this offence – I am not a bad person. I am very remorseful and if I could take back what I have done, I would. I have had a guilty conscience, as that was not the way to conduct oneself.’ He was ordered by Gloucester Magistrates in February 2008 to pay £1,300 compensation and costs of £50.

Landlords:
1838 John Hill (New Inn. Owner James Hall, Redbrook)
1891 John Kirby
1903 Frederick George Fox
1939 Edwin Powles
1970 (approx) Edgar and Mary Hillman (from the George Hotel, St. Briavels)
1990 Dennis and Nadia Brain (Dog and Muffler)
1998--- Nadia Kemley (Dog and Muffler)
2001-2005 Adrian Eyles & Kathleen Croft (Dog and Mufffler)
2006,2013 Richard and Susan Manning (Dog and Muffler)

Cross Keys Inn
The Cross Keys at Kempley had closed by the end of the 19th century. Details of the pub are scarce, but the Cross Keys is mentioned in 1871 and twenty years later the licensed premises is described as a beer house with an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. Landowner Earl Beauchamp of the Dymock estate was the owner with William Hopkins in occupancy as the landlord. The Cross Keys was free from brewery tie in 1891. The Victoria County History give detail that the Cross Keys was located at Little Adams in the village of Kempley, although no modern address corresponds to that name. The Victoria County History notes that ‘in 1899 the Cross Keys, which had recently closed, became the premises of a new club for the men of the parish and in 1903, on the building of St Edward's church, the nearby temporary church it replaced became the church hall. The clubhouse closed soon after the First World War and the church hall, which came to serve as a village hall for Kempley and the neighbourhood, was rebuilt in 1994’.

Kilcot Inn, Ross Road GL18 1NA

The Kilcot Inn, a mile to the west of Newent, is on the B4221 road close to the county border with Herefordshire. The inn was built by Thomas Davis in the 1690’s but records show that there has been a dwelling on the site since the 1530’s.

Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar owned the Kilcot Inn in 1891 and 1903. With alehouse status it had an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. and closing time was scheduled for 10 pm. Their beers must have been particularly good as the pub has an arched cellar with a spring running through it –the perfect place to keep beer cool particularly during hot weather.

In February 1981 the pub had an unusual customer – a beer swilling chicken named Gertie!

The Kilcot Inn closed in 1997. It was bought in 2001 by Sue Harper, a former nurse who had to leave her profession after a back injury curtailed her medical career after a serious car accident in 1994. The Kilcot Inn reopened again in the summer of 2002. The décor was described as an ‘eclectic mix of function and folly: odd white oars hang next to faded tapestries on walls painted in rich hues of raspberry and electric blue, chunky beams adorn the ceiling and there are nick-nacks everywhere.’ When officers of the Department of Work and Pensions visited the Kilcot in December 2003 they reported Sue Harper for working behind the bar, clearing plates and serving drinks whilst claiming disability benefits. However, she was cleared of fraud by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court with the QC stating that he did not think that she was doing anything wrong by occasionally helping out at the pub. She said ‘I was in a lot of pain so my sons ran [the Kilcot Inn] for me and my sister used to come down. My sons were a godsend.’

The Kilcot Inn had a favourable review in the ‘Eating Out’ feature of the ‘Forester’ newspaper in December 2007. The landlady said, ‘The restaurant used to be the kitchen and we’ve virtually rebuilt the whole place. It’s been a lot of work, but it now has the rustic feel I wanted. There are no doors between the three main rooms and the bar, which gives it an open and welcoming ambience.’ The food was locally sourced and award-winning chef Heather Creighton speciality dishes based on freshly caught fish, couriered daily from Cornwall included porbeagle shark steak, Cornish plaice and sea bass. A starter dish included tiger prawns with Chinese spices, fresh chilli, ginger and garlic on a bed of wilted pak choi.

The Kilcot Inn was repossessed by the bank in November 2008 after running into financial difficulties. The pub closed in March 2009 and was boarded up.

In May 2010 a planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for alterations, extension and renovation works at the Kilcot Inn. The work was given permission and work started to restore the pub to its former glory in October 2010. The new owners Elliott and Helen Thomas said, ‘When we bought the place it had been ripped apart, and we’ve had to strip it down and start again.’ Mr Thomas, from Much Marcle, was a builder by trade and the plans included reinstating fireplaces, oak floors, window frames and beams. He said, ‘We will be a free house and aim to serve good pub grub as well as plenty of real ales and ciders. We have dug a new car park with 70 spaces, and aim to welcome both locals and be a destination pub. We will also have four rooms for people to stay in. I can’t say at this stage how much it will cost us to do all the work, but it will be a few hundred thousand pounds.’ Thankfully the sensitive restoration retained the ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that adorns the front of the pub.

The revamped Kilcot Inn opened for business again in July 2011. Helen Thomas’ son Mark Lawrence and Richard Parker took over the running of the pub. It was an immediate success with the restaurant being fully booked and the pair said that they had been ‘rushed off their feet’ and the ales and ciders had been ‘flying off the shelf’.

An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in May 2014 was extremely complimentary about the Kilcot Inn. Reviewer Steve Watson wrote, ‘Every time I come to the Kilcot it feels fresh. The menu is constantly changing, the beers and ciders are always altering and they seem to do what all good businesses do – constantly look for ways to improve. The Kilcot has a fantastic manager, two excellent chefs and service that is good as any in the area. Everything looks smart. The pub itself is spotless and the restaurant area is bustling – you’re already in a good mood before you’ve taken the first sip of your pint.’ He concluded, ‘The Kilcot is a very good pub, it’s definitely one of the best food pubs in the area. The menu is fantastic and there are some good twists on classic dishes. It offers one of the more expensive menus, but for quality of food you receive and the cuts of meat used, it isn’t overpriced. Value has nothing to do with cost, value is the cost of the meal versus the quality of it. Great techniques, wonderful presentation and a menu that gets better with every visit are worth paying for.’

The Kilcot Inn was named runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly Award under the Best Sunday Lunch category in October 2017. The Observer’s Killian Fox described the inn as a ‘beautifully restored pub’ and recommended the Welsh leg of lamb with leek sauce or a rib of beef with roasties. The accolades also include the winner of the Restaurant of the Year in the ‘Forester’ Business Awards 2017, Best Pub in the ‘Taste of Gloucester’ awards in 2017 and has gained the distinction of Certificate of Excellence in Trip Advisor 2019.

The Kilcot Inn website states: Here at our refurbished Inn, our emphasis is on tradition. We are a family owned, independent business, striving to always offer the very best. We are proud to offer great food with our own ‘twist.’ Real ales and ciders are balanced out with an interesting wine menu, focusing on quality and value. You can also enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in one of our four beautifully appointed rooms, which are a mixture of traditional oak woodwork and modern comforts. The rooms have recently been upgraded to 4* Gold by the AA. Follow a restful night’s sleep with a magnificent breakfast- bacon, free range eggs and sausages. If that isn’t for you, we are happy to offer a lighter breakfast to start your day. We have a beautiful Rose Garden and unique African Pods for al fresco dining. Children are always welcome and enjoy burning off energy in our large enclosed play area.  Dogs are welcome in the bar area of the pub.

Landlords at the Kilcot Inn include:
1876 John Wood
1891 G.F. Burcomb
1902, 1906 Fred Smith
1919 Joe Bennett
1927 Albert Hayward
1939 Mrs Edith Mary Hayward
2002 Sue Harper
2010,2019 Elliott and Helen Thomas, Mark Lawrence


Gloucestershire Pubs
*****
© 2000 - 2019 Geoff Sandles
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