[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"PAINSWICK, a parish, post, and market town in the hundred of Bisley, county Gloucester, 3½ miles N.E. of Stroud railway station, and 6 S.E. of Gloucester. It is situated near the line of the Bristol and Birmingham railway, and the high roads from Cheltenham to Bath, and from Stroud to Gloucester, pass through it. The parish contains, besides the town of its own name, the tythings of Edge, Spoonbed, Shepscomb, Stroud End, and the hamlet of Slad. The manor is mentioned in Domesday-Book as Wiche, among the possessions of Roger de Lacy, and the prefix to its name came from Pain Fitz-John, one of its subsequent proprietors. It afterwards became the property of the Kingstons and Jerninghams.

It is governed by constables and tythingmen, chosen annually at the court-leet of the lord of the manor. The town, which stands on the declivity of Spoonbed Hill, is well built, and presents an uniform and substantial appearance, the houses being chiefly built of white stone, the produce of the neighbouring quarries. On the summit of Spoonbed Hill is Kimsbury Roman encampment, with, a double entrenchment, and at the foot runs a branch of the Stroud river. From the heights above the town an extensive view of the Severn valley is obtained.

A portion of the inhabitants are engaged in the manufacture of woollen cloth, although comparatively on the decline. There are quarries of freestone and weather-stone in the vicinity. The land is nearly evenly divided between arable and pasture, besides 680 acres of woodland. In the reign of Edward VI., Sir Anthony Kingston, their knight-marshal, being lord of the manor of Painswick, caused a gallows to be erected on Shepscomb Green, in this parish, for the execution of insurgents, and gave three plots of land in his lordship, since called "Gallows' lands", for the purpose of keeping in readiness a gallows, two ladders and halters, besides a field held by the tythingman of Shepscomb for the time being, as hangman, and still known by the appellation of "Hangman's acre". The impropriate tithes belong to the landowners.

The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £449. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is chiefly remarkable for the incongruous combination of the Grecian and English styles. It has a tower surmounted by a lofty spire, and containing a peal of twelve bells. The church contains tombs of the Jerninghams, to whom the manor belonged in the reign of Elizabeth, and an altar-piece. There are also district churches at Shepscomb and Slad, the livings of both which are perpetual curacies*, value £135 and £130 each. The parochial charities produce about £66 per annum. There is a grammar-school, founded in 1724, by Giles Smith, and known as the Painswick commercial, mathematical, and classical school, with an endowment of £60 per annum; also the united, National, and free, and a British school, which last belongs to the Dissenters.

The Independents, Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and the Society of Friends have each a place of worship. Painswick House and Painswick Grove are the principal residences. C. T. Croome, Esq., is lord of the manor. Market day is on Tuesday. Fairs are held on Tuesday in Whitsun week, and on the 19th of September, chiefly for cattle and sheep; and a large market on the first Tuesday after All Saints' Day (old style) for sheep, but this last is now much reduced."

"SPOONBED, a tything in the parish of Painswick, Bisley hundred, county Gloucester, 2 miles from Painswick. The village is considerable. On Spoonbed Hill is a Roman camp 3 acres in extent. In 1052 it was occupied by Earl Godwin, and in 1643 by the royalists. Roman coins and other antiquities have been discovered here."

"STROUD-END, a tything in the parish of Painswick, hundred of Bisley, county Gloucester, near Stroud."


[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]


Archives and Libraries

  • Original source material relating to Painswick, and other parishes in Diocese of Gloucester may be found at the Gloucestershire Archives.




  • Painswick Tombs - an article about  the famous table tombs and monuments in the churchyard.


  • There is also a Cemetery on Painswick Hill (used for burials since about 1850). You can contact  the Parish Clerk - an email address is available on the Painswick Parish Council website.



Description and Travel

You can see pictures of Painswick which are provided by:





Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Painswick has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SO877089 (Lat/Lon: 51.778713, -2.179154), Painswick which are provided by:



  • The Post Office at Painswick is widely claimed to be the oldest working Post Office in Britain, but apparently this claim is a bit misleading. The building it is housed in dates from 1428, and thus it is probably the oldest known building which also contains a Post Office. It is not known when the Post Office itself first opened its counter, so there are probably other contenders for the title.




  • Painswick Local History Society - History, Houses, Photos, &c. The site also has details of the War Memorial, and an animated Map showing how Painswick has grown over the last hundred years. Added 24 Jun 2007.