The Ostrich Inn - An ancient and picturesque inn
The Ostrich Inn can be found in the middle of Newland, a beautiful village which lies on the western edge of the Forest of Dean and adjoins the Wye Valley, both areas of outstanding natural beauty. The Forest of Dean is one of the few surviving Royal Hunting Forests with its herd of wild fallow deer and with the scars of its ancient iron ore and coal mining now largely disappeared, it offers the visitor one of the most fascinating and largely unspoilt areas in this part of the United Kingdom. Add to this the rugged beauty of the Wye Valley set on the border of England and Wales and it would be difficult to beat the scenic variety offered to our visitors.
The exact details of the inn have been lost down the ages but the thirteenth century building was originally constructed to house the workers who built the church opposite. All Saints church in Newland is known locally as the Cathedral of the Forest because of it's proportions, history and setting and was first established by Robert de Wakering (1215-1237) in the thirteenth century. During this time a tunnel was also constructed from the next door Dower (or Dark) House to link to the church.
The Probyns were the dominant family in Newland taking over from the De Pembridges and could trace their ancestors back to the ancient territories of Wales between the 11th and 12th centuries. From very early on the Probyn family not only held lands and estates in Wales, but were also actively allied with other influential families. Family links extended into Cheshire and genealogically the Probyns were linked with the Earl of Carysfort at Elton Hall in Northampton. The Probyn Coat of Arms comprises:
The area had many links to the sea and the Forest of Dean timber was used to build many a ship right up to the time of Nelson who is commemorated in nearby Monmouth. By the eighteenth century, the Probyns family were prosperous merchant shippers operating mainly out of Bristol and using the Ostrich from their crest on the prow of their ship. The pub in their home village of Newland similarly become known as the Ostrich Inn.
The area has continued to welcome visitors over the years, with the most recent invasion being an RAF second world war airbase, now long disused, which was built on the outskirts of the village.
Close to the Ostrich Inn are the old almshouses which were founded by a London haberdasher in the 1500's and also nearby stands a huge ancient oak tree with its trunk measuring 46ft in girth. All Saints church opposite the Ostrich Inn comprises a west tower and a nave with five arches, adjoining very large north and south aisles, south porch and chapels. In 1305 Edward I added a small chapel (adjoining the south porch) and founded the chantry of King Edward's Service. All the early builders of the church were important men in the affairs of the State, and this may help to explain the unusual size of the church for such a small village.
There are many interesting monuments within the church including an effigy of Jenkin Wyrall, Forester of Fee (d. 1457), which shows interesting details of hunting costumes of that period. Also within the church is an old brass engraving known as "The Miners Brass" which depicts a helmet, crest and figure of a mediaeval miner of the Forest of Dean with a hod and pick in his hand and candlestick in his mouth. This has become one of the "symbols" of the Forest of Dean and at just one foot high, has been adopted as the badge of the local Freeminer Brewery.
The village itself has origins traceable to the time of Edward I and sits below a hill which was strongly fortified by the ancient Britons and which was called Drakehord, the place of the dragon's treasure, in 1337. Some five hundred years later, the hill's name had been corrupted to Dragons Ford on the local maps of 1840. The village has remained largely untouched since then whilst the Ostrich Inn retains its old world charm complemented by warm and attentive service.
With its outstanding natural beauty and wealth of historical associations, the area remains a popular location for visitors and the Ostrich Inn provides the ideal centre from which to venture out.