Commercial Projects

Speech House Wedding Suite



The Speech House was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Charles II in 1669. It was here that Verderers court, for the protection of vert and venison was held. The first recorded use of the new Court was in 1676 when there was a swanimote held before two Verderers.

Mr and Mrs Hands who are the current custodians of the property were looking to update and improve the wedding suite. Starting the project in late October 2017 (low season) and complete in April 2018 ready for their spring bookings.



(the story so far!)

In the days before the magistrates courts, The Verderers had powers to deal with misdemeanours in the Forest. They could even sentence people to hanging on the gibbet located outside the building. This included transportation of offenders and floggings, the whipping beam still exists in one of our bedrooms.
In 1688 there was a riot protesting against the events that happened in The Speech House. The riot caused serious damage to the Speech House costing £219 & 10 Shillings, today this would be nearly £20,000!
From 1858 The Speech House was let by the Crown as an Inn, however the courtroom was still being reserved for Verderers when required.
Some extensive work was made to The Speech House between the years of 1881 and 1883.  The front west of the building remains completely original, however the east of the north wall now dates from 1883. The original stones of the demolished sides were preserved and used in the front end of the hotel.
2017, the architect Philip Thorpe of Thorpe & Hunter was employed by the current owners to design an extension which would replace the marquee to host large events. The beauty of this grade 11 listed building and the importance to the history of the Forest of Dean District meant that design and material were led by Conservation Regulations and harmony with the surrounding landscape.


I met Philip indirectly through a mutual client which involved extending an old cottage dating back to 1680. We understood each other from the get go, forging an excellent working partnership and the rest is history…..

What Parker SW brought to the project.


As main contractor, there were several issues to contend with to make a success of the project. Apart from safety, these are the big 3:


Fulfilling the design whilst questioning the drawings to reach a practical solution to issues arising during construction.


Starting the project in late October 2017 (low season) and complete in April 2018 ready for the spring bookings was going to be of paramount importance. We could not allow the project to go over the allotted 6 months programme. Can you imagine having to tell the ‘would be’ bride it isn’t happening?

The hotel guests had to be considered during construction. Noisy work had to wait until after 9am and finish at 4.30pm. We did not receive a single complaint during the whole time we were there which I feel is a significant accolade. If the guests were happy, the client was happy.


I was tasked with finding the products that would meet with the Conservation and Planning approval. The mix of tradition materials of stone &lime mortar with modern aluminium and synthetic Tapco slate was a challenge. After several visits to different quarries and many mortar mix samples, I found the correct combination to satisfy the authorities and make the building beautiful.

Our niche skills in the business of Conservation, the use of both traditional and modern material with ability to grasp and fulfil designs lent itself to The Speech House project and subsequent invitation to meet the clients and offer our tender.

I am delighted that we made it over the line in time despite the extreme weather conditions. All the credit goes to the contractors for their exceptional quality and experience and our surveyor for his strong leadership.

As for the finished building, well it speaks for itself, Mr & Mrs Hands boast of bookings well into 2021 with many compliments of both the interior and exterior design.

We at Parker(SW)Ltd are excited to be part of the rich history of The Speech House and ponder the thought of being mentioned as the ‘builders of our time’ by the generation to come.

Alex Parker Director