The Running Horse Inn is located in Bewdley, nestled in a spectacular spot of Worcestershire countryside, with views towards the beautiful expanse of Wyre Forest. Perfect for exploring the picturesque region of western England.
According to popular legend, the uniquely titled Running Horse Inn pub received its name from a sheep rustlers who partook in cross-border raids into England from over the Welsh border, and reputedly fled through Welsh Gate. The Running Horse Inn stands on the edge of the diminutive Worcestershire town of Bewdley, in a tranquil, rural spot overlooking the majestic, bluebell-covered landscape of the Wyre Forest. Bewdley’s history and beauty bely the town’s small size handsome brick homes and timbered shops nestle alongside one another, and the River Severn winds through tree-lined fields, and up through the centre of this picturesque Medieval town. Further afield in the town, lie the magnificent Beaucastle, a spectacular country home with a romantic tower and spires, and to the East, a different kind of incredible sight, at West Midland Safari & Leisure park, where you can glimpse the only white lions in the whole of Britain.
With the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within half-an-hour by car, and Birmingham less than an hour away, The Running Horse Inn is ideally situated for exploring the rich culture and beautiful vistas of scenic Worcestershire, and the west of England.
Dating back at least to the 19th century, according to a former landlord, The Running Horse Inn received its unique name due to regular border raids by Welsh sheep rustlers crossing the border and fleeing through Welsh Gate. The heritage of the area around the pub, however, goes back many centuries further. The settlement of Wribbenhall, in present-day Bewdley, is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as an important part of the Manor of Kidderminster. By the 14th century, the area of Bewdley had developed as ‘beau lieu’ (French for ‘beautiful place’), with a market and fair, and the forward-thinking locals made extra profit by running a ferry across the River Severn. The most famous site of late-medieval Bewdley was the Grade II* listed Tickenhill Palace, owned by the Mortimer family, who held the title of the Earl of March, though Henry VII enlarged and took over the house, and it was later a residence for Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, and this handsome Grade II* building still stands in the town today.
The stunning Grade I listed Church of St. Mary stands at the heart of Kidderminster, a pleasant, green town which was once a world-famous site of manufacture for the carpet trade. The excellent Museum of Carpet is housed in one of the town’s largest former mills, and beside the charming, traditional Blakedown Railway Station is Kidderminster Railway Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of vintage train exhibits, including early signaling instruments and destination boards and signs dating back as far as the first days of steam trains.
Nearby Beaucastle, a splendid country house in the Venetian Gothic style, designed in part by world-renowned art critic John Ruskin, also highlights the outstanding architectural heritage of this corner of Worcestershire. The town’s most famous resident is Stanley Baldwin, born in the leafy Lower Park area of the town. Baldwin was British Prime Minister three times, and remains the only PM to have served under three different Monarchs (George V, Edward VIII and George VI). Baldwin was also the Member of Parliament for Bewdley for over three decades, and a monument erected in his honour stands in the nearby village of Astley.
Wyre Forest began as a chase of land with hunting rights belonging to the Mortimer family, and was leased to wealthy local gentlemen by the crown. This attractive tract of land between Bewdley and Kidderminster was later used as a coppice to provide cordwood in producing charcoal – an important business during the 17th and 18th century, and helped support iron forges throughout the Stour valley.
Kidderminster was mentioned in the Domesday book as having 16 settlements, owned by King William. However, a charter of 736 by King Aethelbald of Mercia granting land for a monastery, is believed to have been written in reference to Kidderminster. During the First Barons War against King John, which arose from the King’s refusal to accept the Magna Carta of 1215, the manor of Kidderminster was owned by William of Huntingfield, an opponent of King John. The manor was subsequently taken by the local sheriff, in support of the King.
In modern times, Kidderminster has achieved prominence as a world leader in the carpet industry. The cloth industry developed in Kidderminster from the 17th century onwards, with carpets central to this trade. The Victoria carpets, produced in Kidderminster, are used in world-famous locations including the Eiffel Tower. However, problems arose from the trade – Kidderminster’s important traders resented the power wielded by the town’s traditional elite, and the municipal elections in Kidderminster were known for their riotous nature, with the bailiff-elect frequently pelted with fruit and vegetables by the frustrated figures of the carpet trade. This influential trade is explored in Kidderminster’s excellent Museum of Carpet, whilst the area’s social history is on display in the Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury Castle, the residence of the bishop of Worcester for over 700 years, with Walter de Cantilupe, an influential supporter of Simon de Montford, the first incumbent.