Bream Heritage Walk

52 – Footpath to Stoney Stile

The footpath beyond the kissing gate continues about 400m to the Bream to Lydney road and leaves the field at a place known as the Stoney Stile. The name derives from a stone stile that once stood there. A large flat part of the stile is now built into a nearby wall. The Foresters’ Forest project provided a new kissing gate to replace a rickety wooden stile which in turn had replaced the stoney stile.

Ruth Hirst wrote about the Stoney Stile:

“This stone stile at Colliersbeech, used to be at the corner of the Top Meadow nearest the village where the footpath entered the field; but, when the driveway to the two bungalows on the site of the three old cottages was made, it was removed and for long, lay neglected on the ground. Now, however, it has been rescued and is built into the entrance to … garden. At least it is safe there”.

Ruth Hirst
A Sketch of the Stoney Stile as it was when in position
A Sketch of the Stoney Stile as it was when in position – many thanks to Tony Preest and Kenny Dobbs. Kenny lived close to the stile and his and Tony’s memories enabled Tony to produce the sketch.
A photo of Part of the Stoney Stile
Part of the Stoney Stile preserved in a nearby wall. Photo (c) G Davis 2017.
This stone stile is similar to the "Stoney Stile. This one is one the Gloucestershire Way just North of Tutshill
The stone stile in this photo is similar to the “Stoney Stile” described above. This one is not on the Bream Heritage Walk but is on the Gloucestershire Way just North of Tutshill

Comparing the Tutshill stile (above) with the preserved remains of the Stoney Stile (2017 photo above) and the sketch (sketch by Tony Preest above), it seems likely that the Stoney Stile:

  • Originally it looked more like the one at Tutshill
  • At some point the width needed to be adjusted (narrowed) so the flat slab was turned on end and one of the side posts moved in to look like the diagram in the sketch.

Behind the wooden fence is a newer addition to Bream, an area of housing called Green Acre. We, however, are making for the built-up area of Bream. As we walk to the right along the field it slopes away from us and provides fine views across the valley of the River Lyd which flows from left to right and the hills of Yorkley and Yorkley Wood beyond. At the bottom of the valley lies the village of Whitecroft.

A photo of Rev. Henry Poole
Rev. Henry Poole – a portrait in St Paul’s, Parkend.

Nestled in the trees to the left is the tower of Parkend church. The church was built in 1821 to serve several villages including Parkend, Yorkley and Whitecroft, hence it’s woodland location. The architect, you may recall was Rev. Henry Poole, who also re-built St James church, Bream that we passed earlier and a church in the centre of Coleford, of which, only the iconic clocktower remains today.

A photo of St Paul's church, Parkend in the woodland
St Paul’s church, Parkend in the woodland. Cinderford is just below the horizon.

High on the steep hillside across the valley, looking back towards us, is a private bungalow that incorporated a small church administered by St James, Bream. It was known as Yorkley Wood Mission Church and served the tiny hamlet of Yorkley Wood and surrounding area. The war memorial from the church can still be seen in Pillowell Methodist Chapel.

Yorkley Wood is sometimes refered to as Bunnies Wood and was the subject of a lovely poem written by Cam Johnson of Yorkley Slad:

Bunnies ‘Ood – by Cam Johnson

A photo showing Yorkley Wood Mission Church in 1907
Inside Yorkley Wood Mission Church in 1907 – photo courtesy of Judith Brown