Local tradition would say that the house was built around 1770, for a Japanese ambassador, and that the lake in front of the house was still in existence after 1935. To find the truth meant painstaking work. The County Records Office at Gloucester were helpful and fairly fruitful concerning the last century, but the real breakthrough came when Roger Benson (the previous owner of the Hotel) first met Dr Kearsey, a descendant of a past owner,. and secondly Nicholas Kingsley, who has produced a book on Gloucestershire houses.
In the late eighteenth century the present site of the house appears to have been occupied by two cottages. It is a magnificent site with views over the Golden Valley covering the last ridge of the Cotswolds to the west, over Stroud to Lypiatt in the north, and on to Sapperton Church. On the south side the line follows the top of the hill from Aston Down to Minchinhampton, and on across the Common to Rodborough. In the early days the land encompassed by the estate was considerable, and in comparatively recent times covered Besbury to Burleigh, with 3 farms and 6 similar properties, including Besbury Farm, the Wilderness cottages, and Garden Cottage.
The present house was built in the first years of the 19th Century, and was approached through an avenue of trees from Burleigh. The owner in the early days was George Harmar, who died in 1827, and left the property to his wife Mary. West Lodge, a later addition, stands at the entrance on the west side and the line of trees is still clearly visible. A bridge to take carriages over the road was built in 1897 together with the Coachman's House, which was later re-named Garden Cottage. The main building is a three storey building with a substantial cellar, built on local golden Cotswold stone, and originally was then central from a forecourt, and had a semi-circular ionic porch. The garden on the South side has five bays and two shallow bows which give a distinctive and unusual effect.