The Dance Families of 

the Forest of Dean




Scowles Hamlet in the Forest of Dean






Scowles Hamlet

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The old Coleford Church around 1880



As with many chapels of ease, Coleford’s did not have its own cemetery and for centuries, Coleford men and women were buried at Newland until the churchyard was closed to burials of Coleford residents in 1867 and a cemetery was opened at Victoria Road. The path to Newland is still known as the “Burial Path”.

The Green Way recorded in 1282 was possibly part of a track running above the valley of Thurstan's brook and to the south-east of the area known as Greenway Scowles in 1434. The ancient track became a way between Coleford and Newland church and a field on its route was known in 1792 as Church Path.

One regular feature of our Scowles School calendar was for the staff and children to attend a service at Newland Church on Ascension Day. This function was followed by by Miss Brickdale inviting us to have milk and buns on her lawn before we faced the uphill walk back to school, via the Burying Path, down Dog Kennel Pitch, and then uphill again through a field by the side of Bells Wood.'   Reg Cope's 1890s memories (Mary Brickdale's home was Dark House, now known as Dower House in Newland village.)





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I decided to walk this path in 2009. My main interest was in retracing the section frequently used by the Scowles school children on their regular visits to Newland Church back in the second half of the 19th century.

After a short refreshment break at the popular 'Ostrich' in Newland and taking the path opposite the church gates I proceeded 'onwards and upwards'.

The route sign-posted appears to differ slightly from the original - especially around the Highmeadow Farm area.

Scowles Hamlet is approximately halfway along the path between Newland and Coleford.

Below are some of the photographs I collected during my stroll. 


The Ostrich at Newland


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Starting off from opposite Newland Churchyard

Looking back to Newland Church



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Its a bit overgrown

and neglected in places




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Near Highmeadow Farm



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Lime kiln near Highmeadow Farm

Stone quarry at Scowles


The stone quarry on the right would probably have been where John Dance first worked before he became a stone-mason. Many locals began as stone-cutters working alongside masons and developed their skills at the quarry. Its also likely to be the source of some of the stones used to build the Scowles homes.



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The Burial Path looking left at Scowles

From Scowles to Coleford




There was a lack of burial space within Coleford and on the closure of Newland churchyard to burials of Coleford residents in 1867 a burial board laid out a cemetery on the west side of the town. The cemetery, which included chapels for Anglicans and nonconformists linked by a corridor surmounted by a bell cot, opened in 1868 and was managed jointly by Coleford and Newland parish councils from 1894.