Unchanged since the mid-17th century, The Fleece Inn, a National Trust treasure, has a quarry of little rooms surrounding a tight little bar. High-back settles face in toward an inglenook fireplace and there’s a famous pewter collection in the main dining area, beside the servery hutch. It is a welcoming, traditional pub in the finest sense. On tap, guest cask ales and Uley’s Old Spot, which has leanings toward malt sweetness, and while the hop bitterness lags initially, hops come charging through in the finish.
Hearing that the timeless Fleece had sustained considerable damage in a ripping fire a few months after a visit in December of 2004 was most distressing, though it didn’t surprise me as the fireplace in the pewter room was discharging quite a bit of smoke into the room the day of my visit. The fire, however, did not originate in the pewter room as one might have suspected but in a fireplace in a small room at the far side of the bar, and from there spread to the roof, as well as to the toilets out back. Villagers raised the alarm and raced to help remove and save the fine pewter collection and the antique furnishings.
In order to restore the pub interior as close to original as possible, the pub’s landlord, Nigel Smith, requested that anyone who had pictures or digital images to send them to him. I sent a few images along and I like to believe I helped in some small way to restore this quality inn, which has a single letting room.
Fortunately, the pub has been returned to its former state of glory as a traditional pub serving locals and visitors alike. They even re-painted in the witches’ circles in front of the main fireplace.
Since then, I have been back many times to the Fleece and can happily vouch for the quality of the cask ale and the plentiful plate of perfectly cooked fish and chips.
The Fleece featured in the first CAMRA Good Beer Guide back in 1974 and is on CAMRA`s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.