In it's heyday, due to it's important position on the crossing of two important main roads - the Chalford to Birdlip (on to Cheltenham) and Cirencester to Gloucester (via Catswood and Painswick), Bisley could at one time count seven pubs in the village. The Bell, The George, The Britannia, The White Hart and the Three Horseshoes have long closed their doors leaving the New Inn to be renamed as The Stirrup Cup and The Bear.
The Bear is known to have been in existence since 1639 although at this time it was reputed to be sited the road, at Bear House - then the property of the Feoffeess. The current building was at this time the local Court House and remained so until the Bear moved house in 1766 and has stayed put ever since.
The cellars are hewn out of solid rock and the well is a further 58ft deep in the cellar. It is rumoured that a tunnel from the local church ran through these cellars which could be a possibility given their size and position. The 17th century fireplace has a priest hole halfway up the chimney and there are many other stories and legends from the building.
The building is full of history and you can't help but be enchanted by thinking of what must have gone on here throughout the centuries and generations.
The following is an excerpt from the 1947 edition of the Stroud Brewery Courier who owned the Inn at the time
"The Stroud Brewery Company owns many old and interesting inns, but quite a number of them have only come into the possession of the Company during the last 20 or 30 years, having been acquired through the purchase of other breweries.
The Bear Inn at Bisley was, however, one of the houses conveyed to the Company in 1888. This inn was purchased in 1821 by Joseph Watts, who joined the founder of the Brewery in 1804 and ably conducted the business for 50 years and was sole proprietor from 1819 to the date of his death in 1855. For over 125 years 'Stroud Beers' have been sold at this hostelry. The Bear sign is an old one in Bisley and the Company's title goes back to a document dated 1639.
A photostat copy of this old deed is exhibited in the house. In 1639 the Inn of that name was a house on the opposite side of the road, the property of the Feoffees, and the present Bear Inn was the Court House and Assembly Room of Bisley. From old Bisley records it appears the Court House became the Bear Inn in 1766. In 1812 the Bear was in the possession of John Hamstead, one of Nelson's captains, whose very interesting will is preserved in the title deeds of the house. The present inn with its picturesque façade and overhanging portico supported by its late Jacobean pillars may give the casual visitor a false impression as to its age. as nearly all the back party of the house is Tudor, as also the cellars which are rock-hewn and contain a well said to be 58 feet deep. A skittle alley has recently been installed in this cellar. Most of the windows are Tudor or Jacobean of the mullioned pattern, others are of Georgian sash type, in vogue c.1780. The whole house is very interesting and the bar contains a very fine seventeenth century fireplace with inglenooks and a grate of Queen Anne pattern complete with its old iron-work and jack. In a large attic under the shingled roof supported by axe-hewn rafters is a curious relic, a huge oak pulley wheel probably used to turn the roasting jack in the kitchen a century or two ago."