Believed to date back to the 16th century and built as a Drovers inn, The Fforest is one of Wales’ oldest pubs. From the front the building can be seen to be made up of three distinctive sections. The left part of the building has always been the “pub” with roaring fires and a well stocked bar.
Valuable livestock en-route to market were kept in the barn section in the middle (the less valuable livestock in the fields behind). This section was converted to a restaurant/function room some time ago when it became redundant as a barn. And to the right was the forge, home of the resident blacksmith who shod the animals ready for their long journey ahead.
Situated high in the hills, the inn is famous for extreme weather. Many weary travellers have sought refuge from the impassable snow drifts that form just past the inn on the road to Llandrindod Wells and Aberystwyth. A novel written in 1946 by H.L.V.Fletcher and called “The Forest Inn” tells a story of romance and murder when a mail carriage is forced to stop and its passengers spend the night.
Thankfully the weather is rarely so extreme now, but the high vantage means the inn benefits from spectacular views…
The inn is also at the centre of the famous local legend of “Silver” John Lloyd. A regular at the inn, Silver John was a kind local sheep farmer famed for his bone-setting skills. Not wanting to be paid for his services, offerings of thanks were given in the form of silver treasures such as buttons, buckles and a much prized walking stick. He soon became famous for his heavily laden sparkly attire and became affectionately known as “Silver John the Bonesetter”. One night he was travelling home from a Michaelmas fair in Builth Wells in his horse drawn cart. But the horse and cart arrived home alone. Despite a thorough search Silver John could not be found. Early the next year at the Radnor Candlemas fair, which was held on Lyn Hilyn (behind the inn), Mary, the daughter of the landlord was skating on the lake. She fell and screamed. There frozen into the ice and looking up at her was the corpse of poor Silver John. The locals waited for the lake to thaw before attempting to remove him, which took several weeks. When they were finally able, Silver John was recovered minus his coat and silver treasures. Sadly it became evident he had been murdered for them. The grass is said to be always green on the slopes of Harley Valley where his body was laid to rest.