Bishop's Cleeve

Bishop's Cleeve is a large village in the Borough of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, north of Cheltenham. The village lies at the foot of Cleeve Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds, and borders Woodmancote on the east side of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway line that splits the two parishes. Bishop's Cleeve had a population of 10,612[1] in 2011, and was estimated to be over 17,000 in 2018. The village saw rapid growth during the 20th century as a result of the construction of Smiths Aerospace factory near the village after the Second World War. Currently, population and residential growth is a contentious subject due to the vast expansion of the housing estates without increased amenities. At the moment, a bid for 500 more houses has been refused but is currently under appeal.

Bishop's Cleeve
Bishop's Cleeve is located in Gloucestershire
Bishop's Cleeve
Bishop's Cleeve
Location within Gloucestershire
Population10,612 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceSO965202
Civil parish
  • Bishop's Cleeve
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCheltenham
Postcode districtGL52
Dialling code01242
AmbulanceSouth Western
List of places
51°56′49″N 2°03′40″W / 51.947°N 2.061°W / 51.947; -2.061Coordinates: 51°56′49″N 2°03′40″W / 51.947°N 2.061°W / 51.947; -2.061
Bishop's Cleeve and Woodmancote as seen from Cleeve Hill.
Half-timbered house in the centre of the village on Station Road


The name Cleeve, first attested in the eighth century as Clife, comes from the dative singular form of the Old English word clif ('cliff, bank, steep hill'). The element 'Bishop's' became attached to the name because the estate was owned by the bishops of Worcester.[2]

Railway pastEdit

Bishop's Cleeve was once served by a railway line, a relative latecomer in British railway history, opened on 1 June 1906 by the Great Western Railway and running from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham, part of a main line from Birmingham to the South West and South Wales. Bishop's Cleeve railway station along with almost all others on this section closed on 7 March 1960 and was subsequently demolished, but the nearby Cheltenham Racecourse railway station remained in operation for royal visits to the racecourse until 1965; through passenger services continued until 25 March 1968, and goods until 1976 when a derailment (railway accident) at Winchcombe damaged the line.

With the damage done, It was decided not to bring the section back into use and by 1980 the entire line had been dismantled. However the 15-mile (24 km) stretch of track between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse had since been reconstructed, reopened and preserved as the Heritage Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Bishop's Cleeve was also served, though less well, by a station, called Cleeve railway station, on the present Birmingham to Bristol main line (ex-Midland Railway, later LMS), about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the west, but this station closed on 20 February 1950.

Bishop's Cleeve is bordered by the village of Woodmancote to the east, the former Great Western railway line dividing the two parishes. In 2020, the population of Bishop's Cleeve was 16,477.[3]


Bishop's Cleeve has two primary schools: Grangefield Primary School and Bishop's Cleeve Primary Academy, which was built in 1965.

Cleeve School is an academy school in the south-east of the village, with approximately 1,600 pupils.


Bishop's Cleeve Parish Wards

  • Cleeve St Michael's Ward
  • Cleeve Grange Ward
  • Cleeve West Ward

Bishop's Cleeve is situated in a rural environment, 3–4 miles north of Cheltenham. Around Bishop's Cleeve there are clusters of villages and hamlets. Most are situated in the green-belt and are 'places of outstanding natural beauty'. Although Bishop's Cleeve is a large urbanised village, it is set amid superb Cotswold countryside.

Infrastructure & DevelopmentEdit

Bishops Cleeve is served by the A435 running through the Western side of the village, with direct access to Cheltenham and Evesham. In 2012, the local police station was closed down, part of the county's aim of saving £18 million across the constabulary.[4] The village benefits from a local library and a wide range of community facilities including sports centres, a youth centre, bowling greens and a local football club.

In 2010, the development of 450 houses began at Homelands Farm, with the developers, Comparo, wanting to build an extra 550 houses on top of this. This was rejected by Tewkesbury Borough Council in 2007, but the developers appealed to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the decision, which triggered a full planning inquiry. The main concerns stated were the strain on the local infrastructure it would create, and that the site is prone to flooding. In 2013 the Secretary of State upheld the appeal, 550 dwellings are to be built in the north-west of Bishop's Cleeve and a further 500 dwellings between Gotherington and Cleeve.[5]

Local shops and businessesEdit

Lidl store in Bishop's Cleeve in the centre of the village

There are over 50 shops in the village, with two large superstores and many large local businesses.

There are retail shops in Church Road, Tobyfield Road and The Green. Shops include Cleeve Clothes a ladies clothes shop, George Lewis Footwear, Post Office, Printer, Hairdressers, Estate Agents, Gift Shop, Butchers, and a Green Grocer..

There is an industrial estate with many employers as well as a gym and other facilities. There is also a large business HQ shared by Capita, Lloyds Banking, and Zurich behind Grangefield School. GE Aviation also own a large collection of industrial buildings to the west of the A-road through the village. As well as GE there are many hangars used by companies for helicopter construction and flying; these are especially used during the races in Cheltenham.

Sport & leisureEdit

Bishop's Cleeve has a Non-League football team, Bishop's Cleeve F.C., who play at Kayte Lane. Bishop's Cleeve Colts FC youth football is the grassroots football club that partners BCC FC and has teams from U5s to U16s for both boys and girls, Bishops's Cleeve Colts F.C. There is also a local sports and arts centre on Two Hedges Road, which provides tarmac netball pitches, hockey pitches, astro-turf pitch, tennis courts, squash courts, and a very large sports hall. There are also plans to build a swimming pool for community use.

Bishop's Cleeve Hockey Club (was Smith's Industries HC 1942-2002, Cleevillians HC 2002-2019) was formed by Smith's Industries employees in 1942. The club has seen much success over the years, with players developing to represent their respective age groups at international level. The current men's 1st 1X team player in the Verde Recaro Marches 1 league; having won promotion from the Marches 2 in the 2019/20 season, suffering one defeat and attaining a +93 goal difference. During the off-season, the club run a mixed summer league team. In the absence of a Hockey Astro in the village, home matches are currently played at Oxtall's Sports Centre, Gloucester.

There are also two local gyms and large sports fields such as Kayte Lane used by the secondary school, Newlands Park, and plans for four football pitches in the new development to the north west of Bishop's Cleeve.

Cheltenham North RFC play at a ground to the west of the village, next to Grundon and the industrial estate on Stoke Orchard Road.

Woodmancote Cricket Club are the local cricket club playing in the next village towards Cleeve Hill (Woodmancote) - the club offers cricket to players from 10 years old, has three senior league teams on Saturdays and will be starting a Girls/Women's Section in 2017. Welcoming to new players and community focused the club has played in the village for 80 years.

Notable peopleEdit

Religious sitesEdit

St Michael & All Angels Church is Grade 1 listed, with parts dating back over 900 years.[7]


  1. ^ "Population 2011". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  2. ^ A. D. Mills, A Dictionary of English Place Names (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), s.v. Cleeve.
  3. ^ "Bishops Cleeve". UK Crime Stats. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Police Station Closures". Heart.
  5. ^ "How many! 500 new homes and primary school could be built in Bishop's Cleeve". Gloucestershire Live. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  6. ^ PoW pilot who inspired the Great Escape dies at the age of 102, Daily Telegraph, Savill, Richard (28 March 2008). "PoW pilot who inspired the Great Escape dies at the age of 102". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Church of St Michael and All Angels". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 24 October 2019.

External linksEdit

Fossil ammonite collected near Bishop's Cleeve