Lady Maria Bowlby was my grandmother and I spent many summer and Christmas holiday there as well as many weekends with my parents. The Yorkshireman whose email is shown in your brother’s discussion of the history of the house is my cousin Tom. I remember the house and garden very well as a happy and welcoming place. I may also confess that during a period of enthusiasm for fossils I hacked out several from the walls of the house!
When I stayed there you could hop over the fence between the ‘yard’ and the farm yard by a stile which meant for me, that when some cousins were staying, we could go and play in the hay barn and see the milk being processed. I was rather nervous of the geese so didn’t venture into the farmyard without company.
I also remember going out with my grandmother with the pony Tommy in the trap to shop in Dursley or to follow the hounds. Tommy lived in the stables at Coombe House and earlier my sister had a pony called Freckles who lived there also. The horses were looked after by Mr Feltham who also acted as gardener and odd job man and lived in a cottage over the road. I have a photo of my sister on Freckles outside the house which I will copy and send to you for your brother. Apparently my grandmother did have a car before she moved to Coombe House but it suffered an accident and thereafter she used the pony and trap. I also remember the Stinchcombe Silver Band – I think they practiced in a hut up the road but they certainly came and played carols outside the house at Christmas time.
The garden was for me a big playground with a swing on an apple tree on the lawn and a big (it seemed big!) kitchen garden in the part sloping down towards the road beyond the house. There were many gooseberry and redcurrant bushes, raspberry canes, peas and beans from which to steal a few edibles. You could climb over a stile into the field adjacent to the garden in which young heifers and bullocks were often kept.
My grandmother was a keen walker even into her later 80s and we often climbed the hill by the track through the woods which started a little way along the road – in the autumn to collect blackberries or often just to see the view and walk around the golf course.
I also remember the inside of the house very well – tho I don’t remember the lino in the hall – I think it was flags in the kitchen, so maybe it was the new owners who put them down. I am sure it is very different now. I think my sister and my cousin (Tom’s sister) visited the house – maybe 15 or 20 years ago – and were shown round and told me how nice it was inside. My grandmother died sometime after her 90th birthday but I have a photo which I will unearth and send showing the Berkeley Hunt having a meet at Coombe House on her 90th birthday which may be of interest.
The Edith M Friend listed as living there in 1958 was one of the servants my cousin Tom mentions as having lived with my grandmother. She had been nanny to all 6 of my grandmother’s children and stayed with her after they grew up until my grandmother’s death. She moved to a home in Bristol after my grandmother died and must have stayed on for a few weeks or months until she was able to move. She was a clever and rather sharp- tongued women.