Last Updated on 21st January 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
Tiny, secluded, and off the beaten path, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the tiny village of Stinchcombe is miles away from the closest hint of habitation. After all, step outside the car and you’ll hear nothing: silence with the exception of a nearby bird-call or perhaps the sound of the wind rustling through the trees.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, Stinchcombe lies along a tiny country lane somewhere between Dursley and North Nibley (famed for its towering Tyndale Monument that sits on a steep hill, presiding over the town and is one of the best-kept secrets of the Cotswolds) and is just half a mile or so from the ever-busy M5 motorway.
The tiny community of under 500 residents is home to just one church, a drinking fountain, and the buttery stone houses that are so synonymous with this region of the English countryside. Once upon a time, the village would have also have had a village shop and post office, though these closed in 1956.
Before planning a visit, just be clear that this is the kind of the pretty Cotswold village you simply stop through en route to somewhere else, as there is little by way of attractions to see once there! Luckily, gems such as Berkeley Castle and the Jensen Museum are less than a ten-minute drive away.
A brief history of Stinchcombe
Like many other places in this region of Gloucestershire, there’s evidence of human habitation of Stinchcombe since as early as the Iron Age, with nearby earthworks still in existence. A chapel in the village is first attested as early as the Berkely manuscripts of 1156.
Rather interestingly, one of the first ‘Lords’ of the manor of Stinchcombe was actually a woman, Agnes de Bradeston, who lived during the 14th-century. Fast forward a few centuries and Stinchcombe was completed divided during the English Civil War, with Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland even meant to have stayed in the village for the briefest of periods.
Many of the village’s houses are easy to spy from the central green that connects the three roads in and out of the village. However there’s one house that’s famed across the country, and not just because the property was once called ‘home’ by Evelyn Waugh, but also because it’s widely regarded to be one of the most beautiful properties in Gloucestershire.
Further information about Piers Court can be found in this article. Otherwise, it’s worth noting that Waugh resided at Piers Court between 1937 to 1955 and is even said to have written some of his most famous novels at the mansion, including Scoop, Men and Arms, and Officers and Gentlemen.
When it comes to notable residents of Stinchcombe, some believe that 16th-century scholar and translator of the English Bible, William Tyndale, was actually born in the village.
St Cyr’s Church at Stinchcombe
Truth be told, with the exception of the Village’s Church, there is little else to see or do when it comes to Stinchcombe. The imposing church of St Cyr is surrounded by a graveyard with around 50 headstones and appears as if it has been standing for centuries.
However, appearances can be deceiving and intensive Victorian ‘restorations’ mean that only the West Tower and North Porch predate the 19th-century. The rest of the ecclesiastical building is largely the brainchild of the architect J.L. Pearson, who was engaged in restoring the near-derelict St Cyr’s in 1854.
Back to the unusual dedication of the church itself… Who exactly was St Cyr? Well, Cyricus and Julitta were a mother and son duo who are venerated as Early Christian Martyrs. Cyr was the three-year-old son of Julietta who is thought to have been crucified during the 4th-century after she refused to renounce her faith during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian.
Also, close by to the church, and not far from the triangular point where the three village roads converge, there’s a drinking fountain is dedicated to the memory of George Phipps Prevost. Covered with its own little roof, nearby there’s a public footpath that will truly transport you into the Cotswold countryside.
Of course, most people who look up ‘Stinchcombe’ are not searching for the village, but instead for the associated area of land which is known as ‘Stinchcombe Hill’. Located to the West of Dursley, the hill is part of the Cotswold Way, a beautiful trail that wends its way through the Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty that is the Cotswolds.
Considered to be a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest since the 1960s, the hill was once owned by three of the most important families of the area; the Berkeley Estate, the Stancombe Estate, and the Purnell family.
Though there has always been some kind of public right of way to the land (and despite a controversial legal case less than a decade ago, there remain several public points of access to the land), there’s also a golf course at the top! The Stinchcombe Hill Golf Club was created in the late 1800s and is often said to be one of the most beautiful courses in England, if not Europe.