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Discover the history of Painswick Golf Club

Last Years of the 19th Century

By 1892 the membership had risen to 32, and amongst the members was Mr. W. H. Herbert, donor of the "Herbert Cup". The Club was described as "a very successful Club" drawing members from Gloucester City and District as well as from the Painswick area. The first competition held was the Spring Foursomes which was played on April 7th/8th, 1893. Just before this Mr. James Bishop had been appointed as the first green keeper. It is worth noting that in the first year of competitions only two scores of less than 100 were returned (both by Mr. E. P. Little); the highest recorded score was the 179 of Miss Collins. Handicaps ranged from 5-Mr. E. P. Little to 50- Miss Fawcett.

From Bronze Age Hill Fort to Greens and Fairways

The area around Painswick is rich in History and it may be that the intrepid golfers of those early years with their hickory shafts and "gutties" were not the first "athletes" to use the Beacon. It is certain that various forms of hunting would have taken place in medieval times.The course itself is built on Painswick Beacon which is one of a string of pre-Roman Hill Forts constructed on the Cotswolds. These date from the Bronze Age and are approximately 3000 year old. The great ramparts of earth and stone which enclose all or part of the present 5th, 6th, 7th, 1 0th and 11th holes must have presented a forbidding prospect to approaching attackers, while the defending tribesmen would have adequately provided for food from the cattle and grain stored within, and for water by the large well that is now doing service as a hazard to trap the mishit drive from the 11th tee (and sometimes from the 6th tee!)Modern golfers may not believe it but the great ramparts are no longer quite so forbidding as once they were. Over the centuries they have suffered much destruction. This is not due to any missiles hurled by besieging enemies, but from the activities of the quarrymen of the Middle Ages who used the stones to build the magnificent Cathedral in Gloucester and many of the other City churches. Before them the Romans had come to Painswick when they were building their fort on the banks of the Severn.

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There is little doubt that those who play Painswick tread in illustrious footsteps. An alternative name for the Beacon is Castle Godwin. This alternative name commemorates a story that Earl Godwin of Wessex camped here with his forces in 1052 AD. Godwin was the most powerful man in England at the time and was in revolt against King Edward the Confessor. A meeting was arranged to try to reconcile the two and Painswick may have been the site chosen. It would have been a convenient spot as it lay close to Wales where Godwin had been recruiting men to join his army, and was just inside the borders of Wessex where he would have felt safe. The King, too, would have found the site quite acceptable. It may be that amongst Godwin's retinue on that day was his son Harold Godwinson who, in 1065 would succeed Edward the Confessor on the throne of England, and who, in 1066, would die at Hastings fighting against William the Conqueror.

During Norman, the area was divided between three important lords - the Abbot of Gloucester was lord of Prinknash. Pain Fitzjohn was lord of Painswick ("wick") is an old Saxon word meaning ("estate"), and Kimsbury was held by a man called Elgar who had a manor house in "a watered hollow" in the trees on the Gloucester side of the present course. There is some evidence that these lords were usually busy keeping the peace. In 1121 a robber or highwayman was hanged from a tree close to the "Royal William Hotel". Clearly travel along the roads (such as they were) was not always safe. It may be worthy of note that this same hostelry was once called the "Henry VIII" (it was renamed in honour of William IV in 1830). The original name is a reminder that the Tudor King spent part of his honeymoon with his second wife, Anne Boleyn, at Prinknash where he enjoyed the hunting.

Kings, Lords & Abbotts

Development in the Early Part of 20th Century

Between 1906 and 1907 the course was extended to 18 holes and the clubhouse moved to the Cemetery Lodge. At the same time one can presume that the course began to be played in the present direction. The first real clubhouse was opened on November 12th 1921 by Mrs. G. D. Timmis, the wife of the Club President, Colonel G. D. Timmis on land purchased from Lord Dickenson. This was a small wooden building that was to be considerably extended over the years, most notably in the late 1940's when a bar was installed and accommodation for a steward was added. It was this building that was finally replaced by the present clubhouse.


A Watershed in the 1980s

In a sense we may look to 1985 as a date in which the Club was reborn. That is not to say that the period before 1985 was in any way less interesting or important, but the opening of the new Clubhouse does mark a watershed in the story of Painswick Golf Club.
The decision to build a new clubhouse was taken in 1982. It was clear that the existing structure had come to the end of its days. The steward's quarters were appalling and the changing facilities were nearly as bad. The initial discussions envisaged a self-help scheme with members doing the bulk of the work as money was limited. Then came a quite sudden influx of members - some new, some old friends returning to the fold. The main cause of this "windfall" was the decision of a nearby club to make substantial alterations in the terms of membership it was offering. It is ironic that the opening of this same club just a few years earlier had almost sounded the death-knell of Painswick and we were only saved by a 12 per head levy of members (that was in 1979). Now, they were unwittingly to be our saviours.

New Building

The Steward's bungalow was ready for occupation by the Summer of 1983, and demolition of the remainder could begin. It was stripped of all fittings for use in the caravan and a number of members gathered one evening to help in the demolition. In the event they were not needed as a J.C.B. was brought in, took one look at the shack and it fell down! A huge bonfire saw the end of what had been the Painswick Club House and the site was ready to begin on the second phase. Two rather ancient caravans were purchased and moved on to the car park, one to serve as a changing room (for men) and the other as a bar - fitted with some of the equipment rescued from the old bar. It was fortunate indeed that the summer of 1984 was both warm and dry allowing after-match teas to be taken on the grass around the 18th green.
It was not until March 1985 that the new building was ready for occupation and the A.G.M. of that year was the first event to be held in the new Clubhouse. It had been a difficult and, at times, traumatic experience; but few of those present in March 1985 could have doubted the wisdom of the decision to build.

Subsequent developments have confirmed that view as the Club has gone from strength to strength. It is a matter of much pride to those involved that Painswick's reputation for friendly welcome and hospitality the prevailing atmosphere of 'bonhomie" that was a feature of the old building has been more than maintained in the new.


Latest progress

In 1994 a major building project was completed. The clubhouse is now considerably larger and on two floors containing changing rooms, lounge, restaurant, bar, office, professional shop and balcony. A second car park was also established below the clubhouse. The balcony overlooks a new 18th hole which was opened in 1998.

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