Winstone: Introduction

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Winstone: Introduction', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 145-147. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]


The rural parish of Winstone is situated on one of the bleaker heights of the Cotswolds about 5½ miles north-west of Cirencester; its chief settlement is ¾ mile west of the main road from Cirencester to Gloucester, the Roman Ermin Street. Apart from a tongue of land extending east of Ermin Street the parish is confined by that road on the east and by the river Frome on the west; the northern boundary is formed in part by a stream which meets the Frome at Washbrook, and the southern follows field boundaries. The parish in 1971 retained its ancient boundaries and comprised 1,491 a. (fn. 1)

With the exception of the wooded slopes of the Frome valley, the parish lies almost entirely above the 700-ft. contour on an exposed plateau not ideal for arable farming. (fn. 2) The land is formed mainly by the Great Oolite with the Inferior Oolite in the western valley; the main settlement stands on a large exposure of fuller's earth (fn. 3) and the soil is stone brash resting on clay. (fn. 4) The parish has arable and grassland in almost equal areas and a considerable extent of woodland in the Frome valley, including Winstone wood in the north-west part. The open fields and commons occupied most of the land south-west of the village, and all the land east of the village, where Foss field and Foss common, names deriving from the Roman road, were situated. (fn. 5) The woodland of the parish was recorded from the 13th century (fn. 6) and extended to 120 a. in 1842. (fn. 7) The north-eastern part of the parish is dominated by the masts of the Winstone radio station established by the Air Ministry in the Second World War and also used for air traffic control in 1971. (fn. 8)

Winstone village lies in the angle of Ermin Street and an ancient ridgeway and salt-way, (fn. 9) which survives as a track in the northern part of the parish where it passes by Salter's hill. Ermin Street has been an important thoroughfare throughout its history, and in 1747 it was turnpiked between Cirencester and Birdlip. (fn. 10) The ancient crossing of the river Frome near Miserden castle formed part of the drive approach to Miserden Park from Winstone in 1971. In the south-west corner of the parish the bridge at Bullbanks is linked to the village by a road which the parish had negelcted to maintain in 1602. (fn. 11)

The location of the parish church (fn. 12) and the former manor-house (fn. 13) suggests that the original settlement at Winstone was east of the older part of the present village, which forms a village street each side of the junction with Church Lane, (fn. 14) the lane linking the village to the church. The manor-house and Townsend Farm, (fn. 15) at the west end of the village, both date from the 17th century, but most of the other houses are later stone buildings with no distinctive features. At the junction with Church Lane, on the north side of the street, are High Cottages, a pair of 18th-century coursed-rubble cottages with two storeys and basement. In the early 19th century an alley was cut between High Cottages and a malthouse, (fn. 16) giving access to some rubble cottages, which were in a dilapidated state in 1971 when the malthouse had been converted to make a house. The north-eastern end of the village street contains a number of plain rubble cottages, one of which was formerly the post office, (fn. 17) and the western half of the street contains similar, but larger, cottages placed at right-angles to or backing on to the street. The Baptist chapel was built among the latter buildings c. 1817, (fn. 18) and in the early 20th century the site opposite the chapel was occupied by the smithy. (fn. 19) At the village end of Church Lane stands a 19th-century cottage which from 1856 or earlier was a public house, the New Inn, (fn. 20) until it closed in 1967. (fn. 21) East of the cottage are three mid-20th-century bungalows and further east are the rectory and Croft Farm. (fn. 22)

Development during the 20th century has shifted the focal point of the village away from the junction with Church Lane to the cross-roads further north where there is an agglomeration of houses and bungalows built in brick or reconstituted stone; the oldest are the rough-cast houses built during the Second World War to house workers at the R.A.F. radio station. (fn. 23) To the west of the village was the pound, situated near Townsend Farm in a corner of a field called Greensward Dancers, (fn. 24) which probably derived its name from the Dancer family, ancient copyhold tenants of the manor. (fn. 25)

A small settlement was recorded at Washbrook, in the north-west corner of the parish, from the early 18th century when it contained three cottages (fn. 26) including a blacksmith's. (fn. 27) By the early 19th century there was only one house at Washbrook (fn. 28) and it probably formed part of the rubble cottage that stood there in 1971. To the south of Washbrook at Woodside, by Winstone wood, there was probably a habitation from the 17th century. Behind a 19thcentury cottage are the ruins of an out-building with large wooden lintels over the windows and doors, a typical feature of other early buildings in the parish.

At Beech Pike, where there was a turnpike booth, (fn. 29) an inn was recorded from 1781 when it was called the Huntsman and Hounds. (fn. 30) The name had been changed to the Masons' Arms by 1856 (fn. 31) and remained that until c. 1960 when the buildings, basically of the 17th century, were restored and extended to incorporate the out-buildings and the name changed to the Highwayman. (fn. 32) A pair of cottages was built behind the inn in the later 19th century for labourers on the Combend Manor estate in Elkstone. (fn. 33) There are a number of stone and rubble cottages scattered along Ermin Street; Fosse Farm dates from the 18th century (fn. 34) but the others, one of which had a meeting room built onto it in 1873, (fn. 35) are 19th-century buildings. East of Ermin Street four stone cottages were built in the 19th century to accommodate workers on the Cotswold Park estate in North Cerney; (fn. 36) they were restored and converted in the mid 20th century to make a single house.

Thirty-four people were recorded at Winstone in 1381 (fn. 37) and there were 7 households in 1563. (fn. 38) By 1650 there were 21 families, (fn. 39) and in the early 18th century the 26 houses in the parish were occupied by c. 100 people. (fn. 40) In the 1770s the population was recorded as 160 (fn. 41) but had dropped to 143 by 1801. It increased to 192 in 1821 and, after falling away again, increased rapidly to 262 in 1841. There was then a steady decline in population until 1901 when 187 inhabitants were recorded, and the population fluctuated within 10 per cent of this figure until 1961 when 190 people were living in the parish. (fn. 42)

With the possible exception of a short period in the late 16th century it is unlikely that there has been a resident lord of the manor since the early Middle Ages, (fn. 43) and until the 20th century the life of the parish was dominated by the resident yeoman families, most of them related to the various branches of the Haviland family. (fn. 44)


  • 1. O.S. Area Bk. (1885); cf. Census, 1961. The history of Winstone given here was written in 1971.
  • 2. Rudder, Glos. 832.
  • 3. Geol. Surv. Map 1," solid, sheet 44 (1856 edn.).
  • 4. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 390.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 160; P.N. Glos. (E.P.N.S.), i. 142.
  • 6. Cat. Anct. D. A 943.
  • 7. G.D.R., T1/199.
  • 8. Ex inf. Mr. Saunderson, officer-in-charge, Birdlip radio station.
  • 9. Arch. Jnl. xci. 82.
  • 10. Cirencester Roads Act, 20 Geo. II, c. 23.
  • 11. B.L. Harl. MS. 4131, f. 517.
  • 12. See p. 150.
  • 13. See p. 147.
  • 14. E 317/22 Glos.
  • 15. See p. 148.
  • 16. G.D.R., T1/199; cf. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 160.
  • 17. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. NE. (1884 edn.).
  • 18. H.O. 129/340/1/6/6.
  • 19. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. NE. (1924 edn.).
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 390.
  • 21. Local information.
  • 22. See p. 148.
  • 23. Ex inf. the Revd. S. J. Wall, rector of Elkstone, Syde, and Winstone.
  • 24. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. NE. (1884 edn.); cf. G.D.R., T1/199.
  • 25. Smith, Men and Armour, 297; Glos. R.O., D 1042, Winstone ct. bk., ct. 1761.
  • 26. Atkyns, Glos. 841.
  • 27. Glos. R.O., D 182/III/188, copy of will of Wm. Abell.
  • 28. Rudge, Hist. of Glos. i. 330.
  • 29. Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).
  • 30. Glos. R.O., Q/AV 3; cf. ibid. Q/RI 160.
  • 31. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 390.
  • 32. Local information.
  • 33. Glos. R.O., D 2582/11.
  • 34. Cf. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 160.
  • 35. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. NE. (1884 edn.); date on bldg.
  • 36. Glos. R.O., D 1388/SL 6, no. 4.
  • 37. E 179/113/35A rot. 5A.
  • 38. Bodl. MS. Rawl. C.790, f. 9v.
  • 39. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxiii. 93.
  • 40. Atkyns, Glos. 841.
  • 41. Rudder, Glos. 834.
  • 42. Census, 1801-1961.
  • 43. See below.
  • 44. Cf. Glos. R.O., D 149/F 13, ff. 124-125v.; and below, p. 148.