A Guided Walk through Barrow Gurney
The current road closure provides a unique opportunity to walk along Barrow Street and enjoy the architecture and setting of the village of Barrow Gurney. This description starts at the lower end of the village by Barrow Mill and moves southward (uphill) towards the A38.
The distinguishing features of the village are its setting, in a close valley with the stream running through it, and the coherence of much of the architecture, which is the work of the Gibbs family, who rebuilt many of the buildings in arts and crafts movement style between 1880 and 1920.
A Mill in Barrow featured in the Doomsday Book; we don't know which one it was. Starting at the end of Barrow Street near the A 370, the present Barrow Mill occupies the lowest of the three known mill sites in the village. The particularly striking feature, as you walk up the road, is the mill pond, channeled out of the stream, with its gaggle of ducks. Looking to your right, the ground sweeps up in another valley, with Dead Hill Wood to its left hand side, Slade Wood in the centre and Farleigh Hill to the right.
The road makes a sharp S bend and the stream reappears on your left. The site of the second mill is understood to have been at about this point and the village school also stood here, until burnt down in about 1890. Please note that the driveway is private property and there are no remnants of the buildings that stood here previously.
As you continue up the road towards the chicane, the 4 houses on the right were originally built as staff cottages for Hillside, a large house in Vicarage Lane that was originally built by the George family, the Bristol brewers. Beyond the cottages is St Annes, which was built as a “chapel of ease”, as the parish church is a mile or so away at Barrow Court. To the left of the chicane is School Cottage, provided for the village school teacher.
As the road levels out, Lower Mill Farm is down to your left. It has not been a mill for many years, but the mill leat is visible as a horizontal line across the hillside behind it and the water was channeled to flow over the mill wheel, which was hung between the main house and the middle barn.
The centre of the village is made up of cottages that were built to accommodate the staff and tenants of the Barrow Court estate. Note the Thatched Cottages (a listed building) on the right and the row of cottages (Compton Mead also listed) at right angles to the road, behind the phone box. Please note that this, and other pathways off the main road in the centre of the village, are private property and not open to walkers. On the corner is the village shop, previously a Post Office and before that a Reading Room. To the left of the road is the Long House (listed building), which was formerly the laundry for the estate. To the right, just opposite the driveway for the Long House, is a small pitched roof against the wall, which housed the village tap, from the days when the village shared a communal water source from the main that passes under Barrow Street.
As you round the corner, on your left is the village green. On the green, straight opposite the gate, is a pipe that crosses the stream; this was one of the original water supplies for the city of Bristol and tapped the Cold Bath Spring on the hillside to the right of the road. Take a moment to enjoy the green which was the Millennium project for the village. Across the road from the green is Springhead Farm – yet another listed building – and the pub, the Princes Motto. To the left of the pub is the Village Hall, dating from 1920s.
As you approach the upper chicane, you will pass the war memorial on your right and the junction with the footpath and cycle track leading up Hobbs Lane to the A38; this formed a cross roads with Wild Country Lane which branches off on the other side of the stream. Finally, Steps Farm (listed) stands to the left of the road and Reservoir Farm to the right as the road narrows to leave the village.