The Old Manse Hotel is in an idyllic position on the banks of the River Windrush overlooking an attractive three arched Cotswold stone bridge. It really is classic picture postcard stuff – the quintessential English village scene. It is no wonder that Bourton on the Water attracts so many visitors each year. The CAMRA ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ puts this into context though stating: “Prices reflect the picture book location!”
The building is a former manse of Baptist minister Benjamin Beddome. The residents of Bourton on the Water were so keen to keep their minister in the village that they gave the house to him as a gift in 1748 on the understanding that he would not be tempted away to work in London or Bristol.
In July 1999 the Old Manse held an unusual charity racing event – Yorkshire pudding racing! The puddings were baked at the hotel and then released from the bridge over the river by the Old Manse and allowed to float downstream to the Kingsbridge. 81 Yorkshire puddings entered the race, costing £1 each. Their owners were identified with a name tag on the puddings. The winner won a bottle of champagne and there were booby prizes for the first pudding to sink and a gift for any Yorkshire pudding that was eaten by a duck!
In November 2000 the Old Manse was decorated with dozens of Union flags to promote a Great British Beef and Beer event hosted by pub owners Old English Inns. Two working oxen called Reeves and Mortimer from the nearby Cotswold Farm Park visited the Old Manse to launch the promotion. The waitresses from the Old Manse even dressed in traditional serving maids outfits. It all sounded a good idea until the local council discovered the flags and bunting adorning the grade II listed Cotswold stone building. A council report noted that the banners resulted in a “cluttered frontage which detracts from the attractive 18th century frontage and is damaging to the special interests of the building” An enforcement officer from Cotswold planners claimed that it was one of the worst breaches of regulations that he could remember.
The Old Manse was one of the first Gloucestershire pubs to become a smoke-free zone on July 10th 2006, the day after the World Cup final. This was an initiative of the owners Old English Inns (Greene King) that decided to put the needs of their dining customers before smokers a year before legislation made smoking inside pubs illegal.
Map Reference: SP 167207
2000 Robert Cook
2006 John Brady