This route has been created by the Stonehouse History Group.
Start at the car park in the High Street.
Leave the High Street car park turning right - noting the Tudor Tandoori Indian takeaway to your left and opposite which is an early 17th Century timber-framed building and the 18th Century Assembly Room and Coach House (now Stonehouse Pharmacy) to your right.
The High Street is part of an ancient route from the Severn crossing at Framilode, eastwards along high, dry ground above the Frome Valley and up the Cotswold escarpment to Minchinhampton and beyond.
Cross the High Street at the pedestrian crossing and continue past the Green and the War Memorial and then left into Elm Road. The fishing tackle shop on your left as you pass the Green is 16th Century, and adjacent Orchard House which was added in stone in 1606.
Bear left at Park Infants School onto the ancient Church Way footpath towards the Bristol Road, passing the Berryfield (which is the playing field for Wycliffe College, founded 1882 by G.W. Sibly) on your left, and then crossing over the railway cutting that carried the branch line to Nailsworth before the “Beeching cuts”.
Cross the Bristol Road at the pedestrian crossing then turn right along the Bristol road. On your left is Stonehouse Court Hotel which is the former Elizabethan manor house. Altered by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1906, the present building was seriously damaged by fire in 1908.
Just before the Railway bridge turn left - this takes you past Court Farm Mews - part of the Court’s farm until the 1980s. At Ocean Bridge which crosses the Stroudwater Navigation Canal turn right, the stretch of open water to your right is known as “the Ocean”.
Formed where the main village stream joined the River Frome, it may have provided one of three fishponds serving the old manor house before being incorporated into the Canal. Between 1789 and 1927, this Canal together with the Thames & Severn Canal, linked the Thames and Severn rivers.
A short deviation – after crossing ocean bridge and turning right onto the towpath - takes you to the 15th Century Bond’s Mill. Beyond the railway tunnel, note the straightened River Frome down the slope to your left. This was part of a novel, ill-fated, scheme by John Kemmett, around 1760, to create a canal without locks. It was the first known attempt at containerisation.
During WW2 Bond’s Mill housed Sperry Gyroscope’s “shadow factory” which produced instruments for aircraft and searchlight systems. - note the WW2 special pillbox and prize-winning plastic lift bridge over the canal.
Return to the main route by retracing your path back to the Ocean bridge then cross the bridge and turn right onto the footpath to St. Cyr’s Church - probably founded by a lord of the manor in the 12th Century.
The tower in front of you was built in the 14th Century and the rest was rebuilt in the 1850s. The chancel and the round-arched north doorway are copies of the original. The churchyard contains 50 listed, 17th Century and early 18th Century monuments.
Leaving the churchyard at the far end, continue straight onto the narrow lane which takes you to Nutshell Bridge, built by 1779. The adjoining Nutshell Cottage was added in 1803, followed by Nutshell House in about 1825. You can enjoy terrific views from the Bridge – to the Cotswold Escarpment and, to the east, to Selsley Church, the first ecclesiastical glass commission for William Morris & Co. Also to a straightened section of the River Frome (the furthest extent of the Kemmett Canal).
Continue down the lane to Lower Mills - where paper bags have been produced since 1922. The buildings date from the early 19th Century, but there has been a mill on this site since Anglo–Saxon times, passing Bridgend House, built in 1691, is at the end of the lane (on the right). As you bear left onto Downton Road note the late 18th Century stone bridge over the River Frome. The base of a small brick building at its north abutment may have been a toll house. As you walk along the road, you will hear flowing water at the right; this is the ancient millstream from Upper Mills (you can see the 19th Century main building straight ahead). This is another Anglo-Saxon site, where a mill was granted by William de Eu to Gloucester Abbey in 1085.
Carry on up Downton Road to cross Bristol Road at the pedestrian crossing and continue up Regent Street which has some interesting Georgian houses. Wayfarer’s Cottage (on your left) was formerly the Nag’s Head Inn. At the top of the street note the late 16th Century thatched cottage straight ahead before turning left onto High Street.
To your left is the Woolpack Inn, developed by the 18th Century from an earlier barn, which served the turnpike road from 1726. To the right is the Post Office built in 1933 of bricks supplied by the Stonehouse Brick and Tile Company, which was a big employer in the town from the 1890s to the 1960s. Further on up the High street on your right you will see Apsley House, late 16th Century with additions including a former malthouse which was a dairy between 1908 and 1975. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing to return to the car park.