The story goes that away back when iron was the weld of choice, our small hillside settlement laid its very first foundations in the form of a fort (roughly between 500-100BC). Leaving behind a hint of an ancient civilisation you can still see the remains of our Cotswolds Iron Age at The Painswick Beacons, just a short stroll from us.
‘BC’ then turned into ‘AD’ and the spot that was picked by those with a knack for progression, over the hundreds of years that passed began to grow into something a little bit more. Indeed, fast forward to 1121 and we are now a thriving Saxon village headed by the Lord of the Manor; Pain Fitzjohn (now I wonder why he was granted that name!). Famed for their farming skills, Pain and his fellow Saxon’s had turned their Iron Age fort into something worth marking on the map and thus, it seemed only sensible that it take on the name Painswyke (Wyke being the Saxon name for village).
Obviously onto a winner in the farming stakes in the years that followed the Saxon era, the village and moreover the soon to be called ‘Cotswolds’, grew their small cottage industry into a more prosperous trade. In fact, getting really rather rich between 1500 and 1830, the farmers began to weave their wares (sheep!) into cloth and the Cotwolds began to flourish. Of course the name ‘Cotswold’ itself is a testament to how the trade began to define the area – “Cots” meaning (in old English) the enclosure that sheep were be kept in and “Wolds” meaning bare hills.
Thus, as the money began to roll in over the 300 years of the wool and sheep industry, most of grand houses in the Gloucestershire’s valleys began too to pop up, including of course our lovely home.
Originally built in late 18th century at the height of the wool trade, it was first known as Prospect House.
In 1897 it was then bought by the Reverend William Henry Seddon for use as the village’s vicarage. In the days of yore, vicarages were really rather ornate things, so Seddon (keeping up with the trend setters) employed the renowned and revered Detmar Blow to alter and extend the house in 1902. A famous architect of the Arts and Crafts period and a disciple of a man named Ruskin who designed many of the grand mills of the Stroud Valley, Blow waved his magic wand over Prospect House – kissing its Palladian architecture with some much deserved Victorian refinement.
Following Blows renovations, Seddon as the 1900’s set in, began again to get a little bit twitchy and decided not quite ornate enough he would employ the famous church architect’s Temple Moore and Percy Morley Horder to further add to Prospect House. The duo built a private chapel with plaster ceiling containing an I.H.S monogram, a library, a Sunday school room, a Parish Room (our restaurant), a rather delightful Italianate logia on the first floor AND what we can only describe as a ‘scallop’ shaped building outside which allegedly served to amplify Seddon’s voice when he was preaching to Painswick villagers in the newly terraced Italianate garden. Prospect House was thus, complete.
Interestingly, it is thought that the money to extend the house came from Frances Isobel Seddon whose maiden name was Perrins of Worcestershire Sauce fame. Indeed looking to spice the whole of Painswick up, the Perrin family were great benefactors to the village itself, giving it a magnificent village hall and a 4.5 acre recreation ground which we are told is home to one of the oldest rugby clubs in the country.
It was in 1931 that the Seddon’s and their good taste sadly moved out. The 30’s and 40’s then saw a flurry of residents, including no other than David Verey (Rosemary Verey’s husband and former owner of our very lovely ‘Barnsley House’), who all enjoyed the Palladian masterpiece as a home.
Fast forward to 1950’s and our Prospect home underwent a pretty significant change becoming a guest house ran by the lovely Miss Stephens who promptly renamed it ‘Gwynfa House’. Then, when the swinging sixties hit - enjoying its new found purpose so much, our guest house took a leap to become ‘Cranham Woods Hotel,’ owned by a Mr Tony Petranca. In the years that have followed there have been few owners since (including the Somerset Moore’s who still live in the village) but it’s fair to say whatever its name has been, and however it has been decorated, hospitality has stuck.
We were lucky enough to snap up what was once Prospect House in 2015, changing its name from ‘Cotswolds 88’ we have worked to bring this Palladian master piece securely back into its village and now TA DA its new era begins as ‘The Painswick.’