Bream Heritage Walk

50 – Pastors Hill Farm

The stone in the corner of the field is inscribed DF No 42, 1832. This is an original stone, one of 218 such stones, set in place to mark the boundaries of the statutory Forest of Dean in the 1830s. Since then some stones have disappeared and some have been moved. DF No 41 (below) is also on Pastors Hill – but not on the public footpath.

A photo of Boundary Stone No DF 41 1832
Boundary Stone No DF 41 on Pastors Hill – not on the footpath.

A 2011 report by Glyn Bullock MBE, David Clarke and Rob Guest of the Forestry Commission (now Forestry England) detailed the situation after repeating a perambulation or survey of 1833 – which followed the erection of the stones.

By 2011 only102 original stones remained. 42 new stones were made or commissioned, 30 stones were not found and will be replaced and 44 stones were not found and will not be replaced. Unlike the 1833 survey which was a very lengthy narrative referring to landowners of the time, the 2011 report is a well presented booklet with maps and many photographs. Stones No 35-38 were erected in Whitecroft and No 39-54 were erected in Bream. No 37 was thought to be lost but was found in a garden in Whitecroft in June 2019.

A photo of Pastors Hill House in 1986
Pastors Hill House in 1986. This photo shows the original front of the house on the opposite side to us. The oldest part of the house is to the right.

Looking back and to the right is Pastor’s Hill House. This became a grade II listed building in 1984. The house is part of Pastors Hill Farm. Former residents of Pastors Hill House, James and Mary Gough donated a silver chalice and Paten to St James Church, Bream. These still exist. The inscription on the chalice is:

A photo showing The Gough Chalice and Paten
The Gough Chalice and Paten of 1680

The Gift of James Gough
of Pastor’s Hill Gent and Mary His Wife
To The Chappell of Bream

Inscription on the Gough chalice and paten

William Smith of St Briavels, wrote in an undated news article, that:

“Pastors Hill, being then the residence of the benefactor of Bream Chapel (i.e. James Gough, 1612-1691) was laid out in ornamental grounds, fish-pond and summerhouse, and still retains the name of ‘The Walks’. ‘The house was approached by a drive leading from the ‘Bream to Lydney Road, the entrance (to which) were ornamental gates with stone pillars surmounted by caps and balls. These were removed in the early 19th century to an estate near Ross”.

William Smith of St Briavels

Recent residents include Ruth Hirst a local historian and her sister Barbara Carpenter who had a great interest in sheepdogs, becoming well known in the sheep dog trial fraternity. Barbara held ladies sheepdog trials here for many years and wrote the book: “National Sheepdog Champions of Britain and Ireland 1922-1993”.

Ruth who researched the history of the house wrote of a tunnel:

“… Opening out of the cellar is an underground passage said to go to Willsbury, St Briavels, another residence of the Gough family, and about 3-4 miles distant. … When some work was in progress some years ago in the Lydney Road area, a tunnel was discovered, leading in that direction; but this does not necessarily mean it was connected with that from here”.

Ruth Hirst

The oldest part of the house is the furthest part away from us. Like many very old houses, a few ghost stories are associated with it – such as the mysterious White Lady. At midnight on midsummer’s eve, a lady on a white horse rides across the grounds. Visitors have even reported dreaming of a woman riding up the stairs on a white horse. In the dead of night, horses munching hay and walking in the yard were heard when no horses were on the grounds. Finally, a ghost named by the residents as Humphrey has been heard rummaging around in the house as if searching for something.

Ruth also wrote of one of the fields: “… during the 1920s and 30s, members of Wesley Chapel played cricket and tennis on the pitches laid out by Grandfather”.

A pile of stones in a former orchard called Folly Orchard, may have comprised the Folly.

As well as use for farming purposes, surface mining for coal has taken place including Morse’s Coal Slope which is shown on the 1903 OS Map. Also, some opencast mining for coal took place on the grounds in the 1980s.