The history of Ingleside House
Ingleside House, formally The Beeches and then Ingleside School, is a Grade II listed building, extensively and sympathetically renovated.
Dating from the late 18th century it has early and mid-19th and early 20th Century additions. Its name derives from adjacent beech groves owned by the Chester-Masters, landlords of the old Abbey Estates in which it was built. The house straddles the line of the old city wall. In the hall of the house, a splendidly carved mantelpiece depicts an old Fly Waggon, with its barrel-shaped hood and team of eight horses. It appeared on the trade card of the carriers Tanner and Baylis, who from 1812, had premises in Cirencester. They kept 28 horses, conveying goods by waggon to London every midnight, a journey which took two days and two nights. Mr Baylis lived at The Beeches from 1817 until shortly after the Great Western Railway arrived in 1841, which made the same trip to London in just six hours.
The 1851 Census shows Joseph Sewell, gentleman, owning The Beeches. Having made small alterations and additions to the house and estate, he left the property jointly to his sons, when he died in 1891. In 1893, Edward Clare Sewell, gained full title to The Beeches after his brother Charles died tragically in South Africa. A local solicitor and High Steward of the borough, Charles took a keen interest in the town and its history. Making substantial additions and alterations to the house, garden and estate he employed a large domestic staff.
The property was very substantial, by the time it was sold, in 1923, to Major Victor Ferguson, whose tenure was somewhat short and unremarkable. In 1925 The Beeches, passed to Colonel Bartholomew Price. He remained there until 1942 when, requisitioned for the remainder of WWII, it became the offices of Dulci, who made weapon-components at its factories in the town.
Just after the war Cirencester Urban District Council purchased The Beeches, leasing it to Cirencester Community Association which was formed to provide evening classes and a place for local clubs and societies to meet. In its hey-day, under its most successful warden, Fergus ‘Mac’ McLellan (1949-1974) the Barn Theatre was built and over 60 weekly activities took place there. However, through the years, the Association was never really able to pay its way. Transferred to Cotswold District Council and called The Phoenix Centre after 1972, over time, it lost its evening classes and its funded warden while accumulating increasing debts and arrears which gradually forfeited all its property to its landlords.
In 1960 Mrs Margaret Selby the founder of Ingleside School asked for temporary accommodation for 28 pupils in two rooms at The Beeches. By 1979 it had 100 pupils using five rooms, the theatre and gardens with a sub-lease granted by Cotswold District Council. It continued on from strength to strength. Upon Mrs Selby’s death in 1991, ownership passed to Mrs Cox in 1992 then Mrs Blades in 1996. New management at the school felt strong enough to take over the head-lease when Cirencester Community Association was finally disbanded in 2000, while the sub-lease of the Barn Theatre and the adjacent cottage was taken on by Cirencester Light Operatic formed by three Operatic Society’s members.
In 2007 the school had depleted in numbers and three local people with connections to the Barn Theatre and The Vaults (as it was then) which sat within the old servants quarters, got together and decided to bring a new, elegant, sophisticated events and conference centre to Cirencester with state of the art technology.
With connections to local musical groups, as well as many involved with the media and arts on both a professional and amateur basis, the dream was to build a venue that not only provided facilities to the general public and businesses within the town but also provide facilities for the arts in Cirencester.
And with that – a new history started for Ingleside House.
10 years later that history was once again revamped with the launch of the professional refurbished Barn Theatre and Téatro.