Green Dragon Inn: History of Yorkshire Dales 13th century pub in Hardraw as owner sees significant rise in global visitors this year due to its links with Channel 5 series All Creatures Great and Small
In light of recent news that owner of Yorkshire pub, D Mark Thompson, has decided to retire after 22 years under his belt, The Yorkshire Post has spoken to him about how the Channel 5 series has impacted the business.
The interior of fictional pub Drovers Arms in All Creatures Great and Small was filmed in the Green Dragon for the last three seasons.
The most recent adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small first aired in 2020 and is based on a series of books about a Yorkshire veterinarian written by Alf Wight under the pen name of James Herriot.
Over the last three years, fans of the series quickly became more familiar with the set of the show and as a result, the Green Dragon Inn attracted lots of visitors.
Mr Thompson told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s been featured a number of times in the series as the interior of the Dovers Arms of the inn in Darrowby.
“It took a little while for people to realise the location and in the last couple of years it has grown and grown [in popularity].
“We’ve noticed this year, especially earlier in the seasons, we’ve had a larger number of, particularly Americans, visitors coming in and wandering around the Parlour Bar, taking photographs, wanting to be there and just taking in the atmosphere.
“Most of them were saying that it’s just the same, they recognise it being on the programme even though it doesn’t have all the props. Obviously it’s not the exterior, the exterior is in Grassington as are much of the other shots taken.”
Mr Thompson has seen around 40 to 50 people a week who have travelled from abroad to visit the pub this year.
“We’ve had quite a lot of people from Belgium; it’s grown a lot,” he said.
“During the first year, the programme was new and people were just digesting it all. But this year it’s quite noticeable the additional number of visitors we’ve had from abroad; more foreigners are asking about the programme than the English visitors, so it’s really taken off.
“It’s a little off the beaten track, but never-the-less, I’ve seen significant visitor numbers since it has been featured as the interior of the pub in the series and this year.
“The majority of visitors we have seen among additional guests are Dutch from Holland. I feel every year the number of people we’ve had have doubled up. There’s not a day that goes by now that these people don’t come and say, ‘Is this the setting for the interior of the Dover’s Arms?’”
Mr Thompson described what it was like during the filming for the show when the TV crew arrived at the pub.
“I was here during the first season filming and they asked us to close down,” he said.
“They came twice that year and there was one day for dressing, three days for filming and half a day to ‘dress the pub’; it was a four-day event.
“The pub was let [during season two and three of filming], so it was the tenants that dealt with the various filming crews who came.”
History of Yorkshire pub Green Dragon Inn featured in All Creatures Great and Small
The inn reputedly dates back to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest pubs in the Yorkshire Dales. It is famous for being the entrance to Hardraw Force, England’s highest single drop waterfall falling at 100 feet.
The building is thought to have started life as a single storey one-roomed ling thatched building which offered simple home-brewed beer to travellers and potentially acted as a toll house for the nearby ford crossing in bad weather.
A group of single storey stone buildings were built and later put together with an upper floor; the Georgian section of the inn was built on a more grand scale and this is where romantic painter, printmaker and watercolourist, JMW Turner, stayed for a couple of days in the summer of 1816 while on tour in Yorkshire. He was known for his expressive colouring, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent, marine paintings.
Mr Thompson and his partner Yvonne Lovatt bought the inn at the end of the foot and mouth outbreak in December 2001. However, he has been an innkeeper in the Dales since 1979 and he restored the Green Dragon during the 2002/2003 uncovering of the ancient plasterwork and removing cement from the old stone flagged floor. They were said to be gravestones from the nearby churchyard washed out in the great flood of 1899.
During the period the inn was modernised in 1971, a Priest Hole was discovered when walls were demolished in a previously unknown room that contained a small tunnel which was thought to lead to the grave yard.
Famous visitors include William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy and more recently Kevin Costner during the filming of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. This was during the famous scene of him showering under the waterfall and caught by Maid Marion. A wooden platform was built for Costner to gain access at the side of the pool to the waterfall.
An ancient fossil that pre-dates the pub was also found in the waterfall at Hardraw Force.
“On our sign we’ve got a white rose along with the green dragon because the previous owner told me that at the back of the Green Dragon Inn it was a rallying point for the troops whenever there was a battle, a meeting point centuries ago,” Mr Thompson said.
“It’s got historical connections; in the waterfall there is a five hundred million year old fossil of a creature that came out of the water onto the land, a fossil was found with its footprints.
“Perhaps that’s where the name came from ‘the green dragon’, there’s not many green dragons about, you just wonder where the name came from.”