Golden Jubilee July 7th 1896, Black Horse Temperance Hotel, Birdlip

from the Minutes of the inaugural meeting

1846, July 7th Tuesday The first meeting of the Club took place at the Black Horse Inn, Birdlip, where breakfast was ready at 9am. On that occasion only seven gentlemen were able to be present. After an ample breakfast, for which the keen air of the Cotswolds had prepared a favourable reception, the members present adjourned to a summer-house in the garden of the Inn, commanding a splendid and varied view of the Vale and City of Gloucester, the town of Cheltenham, May Hill and the Malvern Hills. Such was the appropriate birthplace of the Cotswolds Naturalists’ Club, of which it was then agreed that twenty-five gentlemen (all known to those present), should be its first members.

It was also agreed that ‘the object of the Club shall be to investigate the Natural History, Antiquities and Agriculture of the Cotswold District and its neighbourhood’. It was arranged that the next meeting of the Club would be held at Coleford in the Forest of Dean, with breakfast on the road at Little Dean. ‘These preliminaries having been disposed of, the members present proceeded to descend thro’ Lady Cromie’s beechwoods [Witcombe Park] ...In these woods the Botanists of the party observed the Chlora perfoliat [yellow-wort], Atropa Belladonna [deadly nightshade], Dipsacus sylvestris [wild teasel], Epipactis latifolia [broad-leaved helleborine] and a small fungus allied to the Truffle. ... Hence the Club pursued their way to the celebrated remains of a Roman Villa, where they found specimens of the Edible Snail (Pomatia) supposed to have been descendants of those introduced by the Roman inhabitants.… From Cooper’s Hill we returned thro’ Cranham Woods and Tod’s Cottages, a sort of architectural encampment, and however slightly laden with the rarer spoils of the various kingdoms of Nature, no member of the Club failed to bring back with him to the Hostel a healthy appetite and a feeling of satisfaction derived from the interchange of interesting discussions and facts which such a walk could not fail to suggest and elicit.’

So the Foundation Meeting dealt with Natural History, Archaeology, Landscape and Geology before the Members separated, delighted with their first day.

The Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club 1846-1946

The monograph detailing the history and development of the Club was written by Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher and published in Gloucester by John Bellows Ltd. in July 1946. A pdf copy can be accessed here.


Early on, the fossil starfish Astropecten cotteswoldiae was adopted as the ‘Great Seal’ of the Club.