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Bisley was originally a major crossing point in the Cotswolds for the wool trade routes. Because of this it originally had around nine thriving village pubs and inns.
Unfortunately, there are now only two left; The Bear and the Stirrup Cup. Thankfully both pubs are now thriving again and well worth visiting for a great selection of quality drinks and imaginative menus.
Both the pubs serve food at lunchtime and the evening; contact each establishment directly to see if you need to book a table.
The Bear Inn is a sixteenth-century building which was originally the village court house and assembly room. The building was originally recorded as a pub in 1631 and has remained one ever since, even though prior to this date, the Bear Inn was housed in a building across the street.
It has a beamed bar-room with a large inglenook fireplace with a fire constantly alight throughout the winter months. Even when it was a pub, it was still a Manorial Court up until 1838, and at one time was owned by one of Nelson's captains. The facade of the building dates from the late Jacobean period, and at one time housed a very small cobblers shop. The windows date from the Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian periods
The back part of the building dates from Tudor times, as does the cellar, which was dug out of the rock beneath, and contains a 58-foot deep well. At about 15 feet down, there is a lintelled tunnel going off from the well in the direction of the Church. The fireplace dates from the 17th century, and, on close inspection, what is probably a priest's hole, can be seen up inside it. website
The Stirrup Cup
The Stirrup Cup was originally known as The New Inn, in 1891 the pub was owned by Godsell & Sons of the Salmon Springs Brewery in Stroud and had a rateable value of £8.5s.0d. Whilst the outside of the pub has changed very little from those days, inside there have been many alterations to the interior, reflecting the changing needs of the business.
Records show that in 1856 S Morton was the licensee followed by the Skinner family, who held the licence from 1870 until 1919. After this came William Ewan followed by Gilbert & Bessie Restall in 1929. Their son Les and his wife Esmie continued as licensees until their retirement in 1984. Both Les and Esmie are still remembered with great affection in and around the village.
During the Skinners time, in addition to running the inn there was a butchers shop at the premises along with a large coach house and a stable with a hayloft over it. They also let out rooms at the adjoining Myra Villa. At this time the public bar was a small square room to the right of the entrance door with a large bay window. To the left of the entrance were two small rooms, one with a small snug and fireplace that was used by the ladies. The other was a family sitting room.
In Juliet Shipman's book about Bisley, Les Restall recounted that "there was no service to any of these rooms. You had to carry the drinks into all the rooms. If you wanted a drink, you'd rap the table. They had a big wooden partition along the back, and they used to bang! bang! on the bloody partition. Nearly shake the house down to let you know they wanted a pint" website