The following was mostly transcribed from an old handwritten notice hanging in the bar:
The sign of the bear is an old one in Bisley. In 1639 the Bear Inn was a house on the opposite side of the road, the property of the Feoffees, and the present building was then the Court House and Assembly Room for Bisley. From old local records it appears that the Court House became the Bear Inn in 1766 and it is recorded that “the Court of John Stephen’s was to be holden at the house of the widow Driver, known by the sign of the Bear Inn in Bisley”. The same place of meeting appears to have continued until 1838. In 1812 the Bear was in the possession of John Hampstead, one of Nelson’s captains.
The present inn, with its picturesque façade and overhanging portico supported by late Jacobean pillars, gives a false impression of its age. Behind the façade, the building is of the Tudor period as are the rock hewn cellars with a well said to be over fifty feet deep. (It is rumoured that a secret passage existed from the cellars to either Over Court or the church). Most of the windows are Tudor or Jacobean pattern made of the local mullioned pattern. Others are Georgian sash windows which were in vogue circa 1780. In the bar is a very fine seventeenth century fire place with inglenook and grate of the Queen Anne period complete with its original ironwork and jack.
Under the shingled roof, supported by axe hewn rafters, is a large attic room containing a curious relic – a huge oak pulley wheel. This was possibly used for turning the roasting jack in the fireplace below.
The companies title goes back to an old document dated1639. A copy of this deed is exhibited in the bar and copies of it have been presented to the Gloucester City Library.
The paragraphs below were provided by Juliet Shipman
One of the oldest buildings in Bisley, built mainly in the late 16th century with the present open colonnade and sash windows facing down George Street added in the 18th century.
Once central to village life, it was ,until 1838, the home of the Manor Court. The rooms were used for all kind of public dinners and auctions in the 19th century. It was used too as a place to discuss parish affairs and local issues.￼￼
The Lugg family were all over the place, George Lugg was at the Kings Head in 1842 and the Lugg family was there until 1863. In 1868 the Lugg family were at The Bell until 1871. In 1891 there was a James Lugg, horse dealer and inn keeper at the Bear but he was gone by 1906. The same family? A bit of research on ancestry.com would show. This information comes from pubwiki on line. It lists all landlords in the UK and includes Gloucestershire. It is a very reliable web site.
In 1909, Richard Brunsdon became landlord of the Bear. A round tubby man – “if you saw him you’d think he came out of Pickwick papers” remembers his granddaughter Enid Brunsdon. He came from nearby Coates after a life spent on the land. “ I can’t think how they got a living at the Bear, with a tuppenny packet of Woodbines and half a pint of beer“ She added “it wasn’t a living , it was a place to live “
At the front of the building, sandwiched between the end wall and one of the pillars was a tiny cobblers’ shop. The cobbler, George Harmer, was also a postman. As recollected by Les ‘Shaver’ Brown – “ He used to collect the mail at Stroud and come up here on his pushbike with a great carrier in front. He would deliver the mail and then wait until the collection and he used to mend shoes – the finest shoemaker. I used to stop there when I was out of work talking to him”
Above is a rare view of a pub interior, the Bear painted in 1879 by WF Randall, eldest son of Levi Randall, estate carpenter at Lypiatt park.
The room seems to have changed little. Around 1926 Richard Brunsdon’s granddaughter Enid remembers that just the local workers came in. They would sit there with their cider and their clay pipes. There was a rack up on the ceiling for sides of bacon and a spittoon filled with sawdust on the floor.
The beer was kept in barrels down in the cellar and drawn off into jugs and then served up. Sometimes by the time the customer got his pint it had unfortunately gone a bit flat.