top of page
WhatsApp Image 2024-01-15 at 16.08.44.jpeg

The story so far

Originally known as the Three Horseshoes, on the edge of the delightfully un-spoilt village of Chedington the Winyard’s Gap Inn has an interesting history.

A Public House has stood on this site for over 300 years, overlooking the glorious Dorset and Somerset hills.


Winyard’s Gap was immortalised by Thomas Hardy in his poem A Trampwoman's Tragedy. Hardy ranked the poem highly amongst his works, and came to believe that it was "upon the whole his most successful poem."


The poem begins with the speaker describing a journey across England.


From Wynyard's Gap the livelong day, The livelong day, 

We beat afoot the northward way 

We had travelled times before. 

The sun-blaze burning on our backs,

 Our shoulders sticking to our packs, 

By fosseway1, fields, and turnpike tracks We skirted sad Sedge-Moor.


It's current name comes from General Winyard, who blasted his way through the area to move heavy artillery.


In 1651 Charles II, the rightful claimant to the English throne found himself on the run in Dorset and the route of his flight is commemorated with a long-distance path called the Monarch’s Way, which leads through Winyard’s Gap. 


Prior to that in 1644, his father, King Charles I led his troops through the Gap during the English Civil War.


There are tales of highwaymen and smugglers, but the most notorious event was a 1752 story concerning gypsies, prostitution and a court case which rocked London that brought fame to the Gap. It involved Mary Squires, an ageing gypsy, accused with Mrs Susannah ‘Mother’ Wells of carrying out an abduction (Elizabeth Canning) for prostitution, as brothel matrons.


The magistrate was Henry Fielding (1707–54), who had used similar character material in his earlier novel Tom Jones. He allowed dubious evidence from Elizabeth Canning and an even less credible account from a young lady named Virtue Hall. Squires and Wells were tried and convicted.


The case went to the Old Bailey. As a result, Mary Squires was sentenced to death, though this was commuted to transportation. The charges were eventually overturned and both women were vindicated, although Wells had already been branded by the public hangman.


Although there are tales of poachers, smugglers & highwaymen, frequenting the pub over the years the present Innkeepers swapped life in London pre-lockdown in early 2020.


Landlady Bron Ellis, “After thirty-five years in London, working in financial services, it was time for a completely new adventure and together with my daughter Lucy, we have swapped city life for country life and have re-opened the doors of the Winyard’s Gap Inn to locals, holidaymakers, and tourists.”


Arriving with a hire car and completely unsuitable footwear Lucy then persuaded her American boyfriend, now husband to join her. John can be found behind the bar, a keen music fan, you’ll recognise him by his distinct New Jersey accent.

bottom of page