Toll Houses and Turnpike Gates

Toll Houses and Turnpike Gates

There’s no rhyme or reason in my turnpike,

Toll house and mile post investigations,

I just walk or ride out on a whim,

But recording rather than re-imagining the past,

Just like a true old school antiquarian –

Armed with my 1967 pamphlet:

Turnpike Houses of the Stroud District.

Cox, C

Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society,

Volume 86, 1967,

Plus maps, notepad, pencils, I-phone and I-pad.

Rodborough was first and easy:

  1. The red brick Pike House by the Prince Albert at the top of Walkley Hill;

At the cross-roads as you’d expect; the adjacent, stone cottage was once the toll house –

‘Miss Pacey … had once been told by a former old inhabitant of Rodborough that the gate was fixed to the wall of the cottage.’ SO 846045

  1. Then along to Butterow SO 856040 – ‘same neo-Gothic style’ as Cainscross, ‘with typical 3-sided front’; ‘It stands where the 1825 road crosses the older hillside track from Rodborough to Bagpath’; it was a sweetshop and tobacconist in 1967; ‘Mr Holbrow of Watledge told the writer that his wife’s grandmother, whose family kept the pike, could remember when young seeing the legs of a man hanged on the gallows dangling out of the cart on the way down the hill.’
  2. The next one was easy as it’s on my way to work – if you cross directly from the Clothier’s Arms to the cobbled lane that leads down to Lodgemore, glance at the building on your left, directly opposite the pub. This was a corner shop when we moved here in the mid-1980s, but there was once ‘The Anchor Gate’ SO 844049 here, commanding the Bath Road and the canal.
  3. A walk over the canal leads you up to the Cainscross Road; cross at the pelican to reach the junction of Beard’s Lane and Cainscross Road: the site of ‘Prospect Place’ SO 841052; ‘Until recently a one-storey small toll-house stood at the junction of Beard’s Lane with the Cainscross Road, opposite Murder Lane. At present the site is only shown by a tarmac patch just outside the start of Beard’s Lane. The site was much resented in the 19th
  4. Little Mill, Stroud, SO 854055: ‘At the far end of Park Gardens, Slad Road, is a private track, on the north side of which stood the toll-house.’
  5. Bowbridge needed a bike ride SO 858804 – ‘A toll-house stood at the NE corner of the crossing of Bowbridge Lane and the New London Road. The original route from Stroud to Chalford was up Nelson Street, along Lower Street and down Bowbridge Lane to near the canal bridge, where it turned left up what is now the “road to Gunhouse”, for the hill-side route to Chalford. This older track was cut across by the building of the new Stroud – Chalford turnpike road, and a few years ago the remaining buildings of the Bowbridge “loop” were demolished, and the old road is now blocked off.’
  6. Next up: Stroud Hill SO 869052 at the junction of Bisley Road and Bisley Old Road – ‘The spot is still known as The Pike. It may not have been long in use, but some of the stones at the base of the wall of the small enclosure are probably the remains of the house.’
  7. Burnt Ash 886012: ‘This is at the corner of the junction of the road from Tetbury and Avening with the Cirencester-Minchinhampton road, opposite the Ragged Cot. The former cottages have gone …’
  8. Hyde Gate, Minchinhampton SO 858012: ‘Just down the turning to Hyde and Chalford, near The Ragged Cot, … is a stone cottage … Across the road were said to be the shattered remains of the former gate post in the hedge, but the writer was unable to verify.’
  9. Near Forwood, Minchinhampton, 869005: An 1801 Act allowed the alteration of “the road from Nailsworth via Howcombe Hill and Iron Mill Hill up Well Hill” passing “Forwood and Trap End Gate to the West End of Minchinhampton”. ‘A cottage stands on the likely spot, at the junction of roads below Well Hill, but doeas not resemble a toll-house in position or appearance … it has not yet been investigated.’
  10. Woefuldane SO 879003: ‘The site is a long, narrow close between Hollybush Farm and Woefuldane Bottom, on the road from Hampton Fields to Minchinhampton. It is now covered by rough grass, below the level of the field behind, and is marked by a tree, though the actual house site (which was roughly in the centre of the close) has not yet been located.’
  11. Then down to the junction of Stratford Road and Wick Street – ‘Road widening has now quite obliterated the site of Stroud’s first toll-house’ (c.1734). SO 858056
  12. Salmon Springs at SO 847060 once had a toll-house: ‘This stood opposite the track to Callowell, the site being now obliterated by the brick building of the brewery.’
  13. Paganhill is handy for work SO 837056: ‘The toll-house stood at the junction of the Stroud-Paganhill-Cainscross road with roads to Whiteshill and Puckshole, opposite Paganhill Lane. This is the original road to Stroud from the west, replaced by the present Cainscross Road.’
  14. Cainscross SO 835049 is handy, if I want to walk that way home after work. This is how it was described in 1967: ‘The crenallations over the front bay have gone, the charges board has gone … the bay itself is now part of a barber’s shop, while the garden of course is no more … the smithy and cottages across the Dudbridge road have already been demolished, and the milestone temporarily removed. It is to be hoped that this interesting early neo-Gothic toll-house will not have to be destroyed… There was a riot here in 1734 (“on Sunday night, the 19th June 1734, whilst in a house situate near the turnpike at Cainscross, a tumultuous company of disguised people sounding a horn, and playing a fiddle, and armed with firearms and other weapons, came up to the turnpikes and commenced hewing with axes; and when deponent [William Bennet, innholder] looked out about two hours after, he saw that the turnpikes were utterly demolished.”).
  15. Dudbridge is handy for shopping at Sainsbury’s SO 838044: This was one of the original toll-houses of the Nailsworth Turnpike … built about 1783 … its site would seem to be covered by the Midland Railway embankment.’
  16. Then up the hill: Selsley Hill SO 835042 ‘The site is about opposite the cricket ground where the slope slightly levels out. Dwellings have been built up the left hand side of the road, but the site is probably where a track enters the road by a gate.’
  17. Lightpill next at Kitenest Lane’s junction (SO 840038) with ‘the new Nailsworth road. The building was demolished only a few years ago … the typical functional shape.’
  18. The Lightpill again SO 840041:‘Cyprus Inn – ‘This is a doubtful site, the only evidence so far being on the 1st edition 1-inch map which marks T.P. here … There is no indication on the Tithe map of a pike-house, and it may be that the site was a temporary bar, using the inn, before the piking of The Anchor Gate near the Clothiers’ Arms.
  19. The Spout, Woodchester SO 843027; ‘The site is on the N.E. corner of the junction of the road from the Bear Inn with the main Nailsworth Road, opposite Hillgrove … frequently used for meetings of Trustees in the 1780s …’
  20. Woodchester Park Stile, Southfield Road, SO 841028: ‘Pike Cottage stands on the S.E. corner of the junction of Southfields Road’ and the road from Selsley down to the A46. ‘A small hatch-like window gives on to Southfield Road.’
  21. Inchbrook (by The Crown) 843008: ‘This was on the outside of the bend of the road by The Crown and was one of the original toll-houses on the Nailsworth Turnpike. A stream passes by the site … ‘
  22. Nailsworth Turnpike 851998: ‘This is a very difficult site to identify … the main entrance to Chamberlain’s Mill’ [?] ‘but it may previously have been at slightly different points … the first site was probably below the Mill; and the keeper, John Hyde, was attacked at least twice in the early years.’ Then in 1790, after those early years, there was a start on the “New Road from the Bridge at Nailsworth through Howcombe and the Well Hill to join the Tetbury Road in Minchinhampton Town” ‘and when this road was opened , the surveyor was to be “empowered to sell the Turnpike House in the possession of John Hyde at the foot of Nailsworth Hill and to build a turnpike house where the new and old roads divide and to erect a gate across the New Road adjoining the said house.” Road alterations have complicated the issue, the earlier road toward High Beech having been … to the left of and considerably lower than the present pitch … At present the writer must confess he cannot positively identify the site.’
  23. Nailsworth – junction of Horsley and Shortwood roads, SO 847993: ‘a rectangular cottage with no obvious functional features … The house does not now stand on the actual road corner, but it seems possible that the adjoining cottage was built between the toll-house and the Shortwood road; making this now a right-angle junction, where formerly there would have been room to turn.’
  24. Horsley Road 843985: ‘3-sided front … blocked-up recess … The toll-board recess is now blocked-up but the outline of its arch is still visible.’
  25. Tiltups End (Horsley – Tetbury road; now a track) 845973: Started in 1782, demolished in 1965 – ‘The plate of the adjacent milestone was found behind the house, and has now been replaced on its milestone, which, though broken, has now been built into the new road-side wall … Mr Kimsbrey of Tiltups End informed the writer that his grandmother was the last pike-keeper, and got 2s 6d a week” and lamp oil”. She had to board some of her family as the cottage was too small.’
  26. Hazel Cottage, Nailsworth, 852996: ‘this is the complement to … Avening Pike, and barred the NW end of the new valley road … Hazel Cottage is a villa replacing the earlier toll-house … and stood opposite the track leading up to the cricket ground. Known as Hazelwood Toll House.’
  27. Avening 881980: ‘The toll-house was originally a small cottage with an asymmetrical 3-sided front. To this other building has been added …’
  28. Culver Hill, near Amberley, 845015: ‘For some time a toll-house stood near Quarry Hilll close to Culver House … probably only of short duration … The site has not been positively identified, but would most probably have been at the junction of the road to St. Chloe, nearly opposite the lane to Culver House, where the common ends.’
  29. Balls Green 866995: ‘The site lies within the ground of existing cottage where a side-track from the left enters the Nailsworth-Minchinhampton road via the Iron Mills, at Balls Green … possibly of short duration.’
  30. Up the hill to Stancombe SO 897069: ‘At the junction of the old Stroud-Bisley road with the Cirencester-Bisley –Painswick route, now largely abandoned, along which Charles the First’s army is said to have marched from Tetbury to the siege of Gloucester in 1643’; ‘To the typical 3-fronted shape have been added a porch and a wing.’
  31. Holbrook Farm, Calfway, SO 906075: ‘Twin cottages stand on the right just before the turning to Througham … This cross-route, Bath to Cheltenham, would be of little more than local importance after the improvement of the Minchinhampton-Stroud road and new routes through the Slad valley and later through Painswick. One point of interest is the date 1742 on the stone gatepost opposite the cottages.’
  32. Pass The Camp SO 914092: ‘The toll-house stood on the left immediately before the first building of The Camp, and in Autumn 1965 the site was being covered by a new construction.’
  33. Then carry on to Fostons Ash SO 914114 Opposite the pub ‘is a long, narrow enclosure now occupied by conifer seedlings. The toll house stood at the north end of this close, about opposite the milestone, and just beyond the parish boundary, the parish stone still being in situ across the inner field wall.’
  34. Holloway, Bisley, SO 906054: ‘Three stone buildings stand in echelon at the road junction of Holloway. Here meet the roads from Bisley to Chalford, to Oakridge, the Holloway to Jaynes Lane, and also an old, now abandoned, track to Rookswood in the Holy Brook Valley. The actual toll house … was probably the most southerly of the three.’
  35. A bike rode to Painswick takes in quite a haul: Washwell SO 869101 – ‘Melrose Cottage, Cheltenham Road, Painswick, stands out at the junction with the main road of Pullens Road, opposite Lower Washwell Lane. It is a straight-faced stone cottage to which later additions have been made at the back. It was identified by the occupant, Mrs Leech, who said her older relatives referred to it as the Pike … the former road from Gloucester Street towards Clattergrove before the main Cheltenham Road was built, ran behind this house.’
  36. Then the Eagle Inn, Painswick Road, at the junction with Wragg Castle Lane SO 854084: A toll-house stood ‘in the corner of the grounds of the present residence.’
  37. Near The Culls, Wick Street, SO 850062: Wick Street used to be ‘the route from Stroud to Painswick and Gloucester … a track led to down to Salmon’s Mill shortly before The Culls. The old toll-house stood on the far side of this track, though not on the site of the present building along this stretch of road. It was probably not long in existence as a toll-house.’
  38. Butt Green, Painswick SO 867101: The toll-house ‘stood at what was the top end of Painswick (Gloucester Street) opposite the pound and just before the 6th milestone, from which it is now separated by a new road. There isd a shed with a hatch on the site, but from the appearance of the stones it does not seem likely that the actual building has survived even in the vestigial form of a wall.’
  39. On another day, bike out to Haywards Field/Ryeford Road junction SO 812047/813047 – A toll-house ‘stood where the road from King’s Stanley and Ryeford enters the main Stroud-Stonehouse road, and is now obliterated by road-widening.’ There was ‘An earlier site … however … The road alignments at the approaches to Stonehouse differed from the present ones before the building of the G.W. Railway … The earlier site was somewhat to the west of the later one.’
  40. Then on to Horsemarling, Stonehouse SO 806062 – ‘This appears to have been on the east side of the road, just north of the present terraced houses before the turning to Horsemarling Lane … the site has not been positively identified.’
  41. Canal Bridge, Frampton, 746085: Similar style as The Perryway – ‘They were probably specially designed, and in brick, of one storey only, with a central chimney stack, but lack any special feature as a toll-house.’
  42. The Perryway, the junction with Nastfield Lane 763071: Similar to Frampton Canal Bridge, ‘but with a double frontage … In August 1966 it was empty, awaiting demolition.’
  43. Frampton Green 750082 – There was originally a bar ‘at both ends of the Green … and … close to The Bell … probably the pike-keeper’s hut, by the western gate … likely that this was the toll site, but that when the Berkeley Canal was extended past Frampton, the more convenient site [Frampton Canal Bridge], at the junction of the Saul and Framilode road with the road to Fretherne and Arlingham was chosen instead.’
  44. Claypits Farm, Alkerton, 767058: ‘Now obliterated, the site was close to a field boundary just south-east of Claypits Farm.’
  45. Little Haresfield SO 803091: ‘A bus shelter now occupied the site, which is at the right-hand corner of this T-junction.’
  46. Pike Lock, Eastington, 784061: ’This stood on the north side of the canal, where the Stonehouse-Whitminster road was entered by the Alkerton road, at the canal bridge … it was demolished to make way for a canal lock-keeper’s house. The writer was told in 19164 that the toll-board had been removed when the building was demolished and stored in a shed – which got burnt down …’
  47. Whitminster Cross Roads 776080: ‘This site would appear to have been on the south-east corner of these cross-roads … one of the original three toll sites on the Severn to Stroud roads, these appearing as Stroud, Cains Cross and Wheatenhurst. Nothing is known to the writer of its appearance or when it ceased to exist.’
  48. Horsepools Hill 841108: ‘This L-shaped building on the left about half-way down Horsepools Hill is known locally as Pike Cottage, though it stands in an unlikely position on a not-inconsiderable slope … it would seem to have had only a short existence as an actual toll-house.’
  49. Frocester Court 788028: ‘The toll-house is joined to a larger, later house … the southern of the two is obviously the older.’
  50. Frocester Hill cottages 793019: ‘At the base of the hill, the earlier route turned up sharp left and zigzagged up to the Nympsfield road. The present alignment to the right was made in 1784 … On a level stretch of the older route is a cottage …it may … have been a toll-house before the one at the top of the old hill-road [Nympsfield Hill 795014] … was built. But the identification is very tentative.’
  51. Nympsfield Hill 795014: ‘opposite the entrance to Woodchester Park and the road to Nympsfield stands a low shed … Inspection of the interior however [indicates] a dwelling … seems to be the remains of the toll-house that stood here before the 1784 realignment was made up Frocester Hill … the road to Uley was not built until 1822.’
  52. Tinkley Farm 824002: ‘There is cartographical evidence of a toll-site here, but the writer has not yet come across evidence of this as a turnpike road, though clearly it must have been in some group. The actual building has gone, and various farm buildings occupy the presumed site.’
  53. Ragged Barn 822983: ‘This site … stands at the junction of the old Nympsfield Road with the newer alignment from Horsley.’
  54. Brockworth SO 891152: Just by Green Street – ‘An architectural palimpsest. The front of the toll-house, recognisable by the recess over the door projects forward from a larger stone cottage apparently built round and over the first building; the large stone quins of the earlier building were left. The remains of the frontage were extended upward by brick courses, and a brick building added on the other side to the stone cottage.’
  55. Walls Quarry, Brimscombe SO 866201: ‘This is a small square cottage to which is joined a later building, formerly a bakery – it stands at a track junction nearly opposite the entrance to Brimscombe Church, on one of the few level stretches up this steep hill.’
  56. The Bourne SO 876021/2: ‘Unfortunately no relics of either site now remain’; one toll-house stood ‘just south of the railway bridge, and is probably to be identified by the track running alongside the base of the embankment, which could be the original alignment of the Stroud-Chalford turnpike road … when the railway was built, the Chalford road was realigned higher up the slope, and a new toll-house would then be built where the newer entrance to the Toadsmoor Valley road joined the newer Chalford road.’
  57. Near Brimscombe Bridge SO 867025: ‘The only evidence seems to be on the 1819 map of Stroud. It was probably only a catch bar on the lane linking the old and new roads, between the milestone and Brimscombe Bridge.’
  58. Chalford Church SO 892025: ‘Some large stones on the corner by the stores opposite the canal bridge and the church may represent the site: there seem to be old quoins built into the wall. It is a possibility … that here … an earlier toll site existed on the other side of the canal before the railway was built.’
  59. Cowcombe Lane SO 907022: ‘At the top of Cowcombe Hill the road levels out and turns left, opposite the narrow lane leading to Aston Down. The toll-house site is just before the bend. The stone footings remain, about 12 feet square, in a walled close, the well down the slope now being covered in, but with the iron hands for the turning handle still extant.’
  60. Frampton Mansell SO 925018 Pike Lane: ‘two cottages on the south side of the road to Cirencester opposite Pike Lane. In 1963 an elderly occupant told the writer that when she first moved there about 40 years before, a letter arrived for a previous occupant, addressed to ‘Pike Cottage’,
  61. Longtree Cross Roads, Chavenage Green, 877960: ‘This cross-roads, close to the presumed Hundred meeting place, was formerly of greater importance, the eastward road being called London Road or London Lane … the westward … leading to Chavenage Green probably being the connecting link with the [Roman] route from the Severn crossing’; ‘The toll-house stood in a close by the north-western corner of the cross-roads, but the site is now a dump for road materials.’
  62. Tetbury 888935: ‘the first gate on the Tetbury-Avening-Minchinhampton road … demolished to widen the road’ in 1821.
  63. Latterwood, Tetbury, 808971 and 810977: ‘The earlier site lies on the west end of the road, some way before the fork in the Old Bath Road, right to Symons Hall, left t0 Ashel Barn and Tetbury’. The second site ‘presumably dating from the construction of the new Horsley Road, is at the junction of the Old Bath Road with the road to Horsley, the site is now a road materials dump, but a toll-house of typical 3-sided frontage stood there as late as the 1930s’.




‘This survey does not claim to be exhaustive. Some toll-gates mentioned in documents have not yet been identified’ – for example, ‘Rockness Hill near Horsley, Bowle Hill near Rodborough.’

Standing by some deserted country cross-roads,

Twilight gloom, the flight of a bat, the cry of an owl –

It’s hard to imagine that this was once an important thoroughfare,

An admired example of enlightenment modernity:

A turnpike road, improved by turnpike trust funds,

By labourers with barrow, pick and shovel,

By surveyors with rod and line, shouting instructions.

It’s hard to imagine that there was once a toll house here,

With lumbering carts led by teams of eight horses,

Coaches fleet of wheel and horn,

Passengers muffled against the rain and storm,

Farmers with flock and herd,

Travellers with tall tales of highwaymen,

Would-be rioters in barn, inn and beer house,

Itinerants criminalised by Vagrancy Acts,

Enclosure and toll-gates,

Sightseers following in the wake of King George,

On their way from the waters at Cheltenham,

To view the locks at Wallbridge,

The tunnel at Sapperton,

All stopping here to pay their dues at the turnpike gate.

But now, all there is,

Is a tell-tale quoin within a Cotswold stone wall,

A milepost,

A deserted crossroads,

The screech of a bat,

The cry of an owl,

And darkening Cotswold cumulus.

But if like Coleridge, Wordsworth and de Quincey,

You place your ear to the road,

You might just catch the sound of a far-off coach,

The reverberations heralding its advent:

‘You either see it, or you don’t’:

Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.