Jonathan, Julian and I popped into this JD Wetherspoon operated pub in Tewkesbury which is also listed in the Good Beer Guide. It was a relatively brief visit to this historic venue, an intriguing former coaching inn.
It’s a long building, with wood panelling seemingly everywhere, which dates to the fifteenth century although has some eighteenth century additions to it. It’s been a sympathetic renovation by JD Wetherspoon and it’s also one of their hotels with 28 bedrooms available. The Royal bit to the pub was added after Mary of Teck visited in September 1891. The pub was also mentioned in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers:
“At the Hop Pole at Tewkesbury, they stopped to dine; upon which occasion there was more bottled ale, with some more Madeira, and some port besides; and here the case-bottle was replenished for the fourth time. Under the influence of these combined stimulants, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Ben Allen fell fast asleep for thirty miles, while Bob and Mr. Weller sang duets in the dickey.”
In fairness, some of the old world charm has been lost, but that’s perhaps inevitable in a busy and modern pub. I’m fascinated by coaching inns as they provided entertainment, hospitality and comfort of some sort to generations of travellers. Tewkesbury was an important location as it was a stopover for travellers from London, Manchester, Bristol and God’s own city of Bath. There were once four coaching inns in Tewkesbury, but this is the only one which remains trading. The railway was the start of an economic boom for some locations, but not for Tewkesbury, the coaching trade came to a near immediate halt in the 1830s.
We visited during the pub’s beer festival, so I went for a third of three different beers. The Quiet Shadows from Fyne Ales was a drab affair with little depth of taste to it, but the Scallywag from Hop Union Brewery had a decent toffee flavour to it. Continuing on that theme, the Steel & Oak Easy Stout was a pleasant 4% beer with flavours of toffee, chocolate and coffee. It cost around £2.50 for these three, it’s hard to deny the value that they’re offering. Jonathan and Julian went for food, but I found some heavily reduced sandwiches in One Stop over the road. I know how to live the decadent life….
As a sense of scale, the rear entrance to the pub is just to the left and the front entrance is all the way back on that road at the rear. It’s a formidable building in terms of its size.
The pub goes back to the River Avon. It’s one of the best reviewed pubs in the chain that I’ve seen, although with such a beautiful building it would be rather a shame if it wasn’t. Some angry or upset reviews include:
“Didn’t like it. It felt rundown. We wanted a hot drink and they give us a mug to fill up in a drinks machine but could have as many refills as we liked. It was just under £5 for 3 of us. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the place looked like it had had better days as it was cheap.”
I’m not sure that warrants a 1 star review, but each to their own I guess.
“Absolutely crazy place to go always spent loads of money and there 14 of us as a family and the pub don’t like big families after 3 drinks were refused a drink even though we spend £300 at a time not a friendly or peaceful place to be what a shame in a little town this could. Be a nice place to go as pricing in good but this place is awful to go with a big family”
Perhaps it’s wrong of me to suspect that there’s a noise related issued here….
“Today I visited this Wetherspoons with every intention of using the app. When selecting Fish & chips it asked me how I wanted my steak done.”
Seems reasonable 🙂
“Food was good but the sign said no dogs, well our cat wasn’t a dog, she was in a cage and we were in the garden but were still abruptly asked to leave!”
There are numerous complaints from people who were annoyed that their dogs weren’t allowed in, but this is the only angry customer that had their cat thrown out.
Anyway, I digress. There were seven real ales, the venue was clean, the team members were friendly and the building was full of period charm. Quite rightly in the Good Beer Guide and a seemingly well managed JD Wetherspoon.