The Highwayman Inn - History


Roads during the early 17th century were in terrible condition, basically just
beaten tracks. By mid-century with the coming of the turnpikes, regular money became available for road maintenance. The Turnpike Act meant that roads had to be properly laid, with a surface of stone and gravel set on firm, well drained foundations.

At Beach Pike, there was a turnpike booth, a crossroads for roads west to east and south to north, the Ermin Way.  It was here in 1781 that an inn was first recorded in 16th century buildings called the Huntsman and Hounds. By 1856 the named had changed to the Masons Arms, reputedly after the Cotswold stone quarries in the surrounding area. It remained that way until c1960 when the buildings were restored and extended to incorporate the out-buildings and the name changed to the Highwayman Inn. A pair of cottages were built behind the Inn in the later 19th century for labourers on the Combend estate in Elkstone.

The turnpike toll booth was demolished for the widening of the road.

Before the dual carriageway was built, and the entrance was off the main road (A417) the original highwayman coach was destroyed by a lorry when the students from Cirencester Agricultural College stole the coach during a rag week.

The Mason’s Arms Inn, the first outpost of the PARISH  on the Gloucester Road, had as its landlord in 1858 Henry Haviland, who is described as a horsedealer, and not until 1863 as a Beer-Retailer also.  He was followed in 1867 by Henry Hillier, Thomas Butt in 1878, Henry Merchant in 1879, Thomas Butt again ten years later. His son James succeeded him in 1902 and from 1910 till 1914, his daughter- in-law, Mrs Sarah Butt, conducted affairs at the inn and at Beech Pike generally, according to reports. Charles Lusty was landlord from 1919, and he and his son also had a Carriers business until 1935 when they move to Birdlip giving place to E.Edwards who took in the cottage at the side also, closing Mrs. White’s lease of it. In 1949 the Mason’s Arms was sold, who changed the name to the Highwayman Inn causing great dislocation to bus time-tables and local opinion and under its landlords, Mr and Mrs Jerry Coley it gained a wide reputation for hospitality.

A hundred years ago, travellers going between Gloucester and Cirencester entered Winstone Parish after paying toll at Beech Pike. The Tollhouse stood at the West corner of the Elkstone road junction, opposite the Masons Arms Inn (now the Highwayman) and when it was pulled down in 1863, Mr Greathead, who then owed Coombend Manor had a stone put up to mark its place. This is still easily seen, built as it is, onto the wall, next to the stone  which marks the spring from which the houses round Beech Pike drew their water, but unfortunately the inscription “ Here stood the old Tollhouse, commonly called Beech Pike,” had become totally obliterated.

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The Highwayman Inn
Beech Pike, Elkstone, Near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 9PH,
Telephone: 01285 821221
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