The Court House Inn was to the south of France Lynch village and on the hill leading up to Avenis Green. From 1954 to 1955 the owners of the Court House Inn were two brothers, one of which was the licensee. In 1955 they sold the inn and it subsequently became a private house. The name of the pub is thought to refer to the fact that the building was once used as the venue for manorial courts of the Bisley sub-manor of Sturmyes Court. Cases were tried there and hangings took place.
Mr. Frank Butler, whose father had been licensee (Francis Henry Butler – also known as Frank), told the local Womens Institute in the late 1950’s that “in one room there was a large beam with a platform underneath and a drop into the cellar below. In another room was a stone basin in the wall where the judge was said to wash his hands after giving judgement.” Mr Butler also mentioned a window in an outer wall which did not appear on the inside of the house and when he measured the room where it should have been and also the outside wall, he discovered that the inside measurements were appreciably less than outside, so that a space existed between the two walls. In the inner wall was a small trap door, large enough to allow food to be handed through. “The tradition goes so far as to state that there was once in France Lynch a lane called Hangman’s Lane, named because the hangman had lived there.”
I received an email from John Bullock in July 2004 whose grandmother was Winifred Butler, landlady at the Court House in the 1940’s. Walter told me that Winifred thought that some of the tales about the Court House related by Frank Butcher were started by Francis (Frank) Butcher who was, apparently, a great story teller, and whilst some tales such as the hiding hole in the wall were fact, a lot of the other yarns were based on hearsay.
A less colourful but equally interesting theory about the Court House is that it was the meeting place of the master weavers of the district, including France Lynch and Chalford Hill where the Hugenots settled and carried on their work. Here, it is said, the masters may have held their courts to discuss the details of the weaving trade, and so the old house took its name of the Court House.
Map Reference: SO 904033
Owner in 1891: Godsell & Sons, Salmon Springs Brewery,Stroud
Rateable value in 1891: £9.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Godsell & Sons, Salmon Springs Brewery,Stroud
Rateable value in 1903: £9.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Landlords at the Court House include:
1856 N. Tyler
1885 Frederick King
1891 Alfred Virgo
1902 William Philpotts
1903 Walter Thomas Davis
1906 William Uzzell
1919,1939 Francis Henry Butler (known as Frank Butler)
1943 Winifred I.C. Butler
1949 Mr Smith (he owned a bakery before becoming the licensee of the Court House)
1956 Ron Clissold (he was the landlord when the pub closed)