“IN a way it is the heart of Stroud,” said one of the four business owners who call the hidden gem that is Withey’s Yard home.

Located through a narrow alleyway just off the High Street, Withey’s Yard is home to four independent businesses, two of which reopened their doors just a couple months ago.

The courtyard, named after the family who used to own 55 High Street – now Moonflower – opened up for business with the help of the Stroud Preservation Trust in 1984 who ploughed over a quarter of a million into the project.

Its current tenants are Stroud Interiors, Stroud Natural Health Clinic, The Stroud Wine Company and Mills Café are the four businesses.

The health clinic and café were two of the first businesses to move in over 30 years ago.

Owner of the clinic Peter Adams (pictured below) first set up the practice after witnessing the effect of homeopathic remedies on an ill cow in Nailsworth while volunteering with Willing Workers On Organic Farms.

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“Back when I first set up the clinic there wasn’t much in the way of homeopathy in Stroud, or osteopathy and acupuncture, so I took it upon myself to open it up and invite professionals to rent space – we now have 15 practitioners,” said Peter, a registered homeopath and Oxford University graduate.

“Over the past thirty years we have been open, the demand for our treatment has grown and natural healing methods are now the treatment of choice for many people.

“It is good to see new ideas in Withey’s Yard, and at the same time we feel proud of being in our fourth decade here.

“In a way it is the heart of Stroud, separate from the High Street, people like coming here away from the bustle, they can browse the shops or visit the clinic and then have a nice coffee or even wine.

“There’s a really good vibe, it’s a hidden gem – a lot of people who have lived in Stroud a long time haven’t even heard of it!”

Mills Café reopened in June after John and Maggie Mills stepped aside after 25 years, it is now run by Helen Sutton (pictured below) with the help of a tight-knit eight-person team.

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“We had been looking for a place in the Cotswolds and a friend had noticed that Mills Café was on the market, we came and visited and it just felt like the right choice,” said Helen, who previously ran a taverna on the Greek island Kefalonia for three years.

“The café here is a historic institution, lots of our customers are people that have been coming here for years since before we took over.

“I think café competition is good for business too, if someone wants something different they can come to us and try something new, it’s what Stroud is all about.

“There’s always room for us to experiment, a lot of our food is influenced by the Mediterranean, and it is all made in house.”

Helen says that the café acts as the perfect venue for work and birthday parties, and hopes to start running late food, drink and live-music events on Fridays and Saturdays alongside The Stroud Wine Company.

The owners of The Stroud Wine Company, which also opened in June, have been in the wine trade for around 15 years and had been running an independent merchant in Brighton.

Richard and Laura Holloway (pictured below) moved back to Stroud to be closer to family and have fond memories of Withey’s Yard – Laura often visited Mills Café with her grandma.

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“When the old Kitchen shop closed at Christmas we felt the empty shop was just the right size and location to be reborn as a wine merchants, there hasn’t been a wine shop in Stroud for several years so it just felt like the right time, and knowing that Moonflower at the front was originally Stroud’s Withey & Withey wine merchants meant that it just had to be,” said Richard.

“It’s great to think that about 100 years ago there may well have been wine in the cellars here, and now there is once again.

“We’ve been open a couple of months now and each week more and more people are finding us, it’s all been on word of mouth so far.

“We are now up to around 700 wines, beers and spirits and only buy from smaller, independent growers.”

Wine on tap is set to be launched in store and delivery services are also available, the couple also hope to start wine-tasting evenings alongside Mills Café.

Meanwhile Stroud Interiors is celebrating its first year in business this month in the expert care of Nancy Jones (pictured below).

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Filled to the rafters with fabric books, Nancy has made use of the former tenants stock and expanded upon it rapidly to include Five Valleys artists and designers.

“It’s been a brilliant first year, Stroud has made me feel very welcome,” said Nancy, who started her interior design career in London’s Clerkenwell at Pierre Frey and then Osbourne & Little in the 1990s.

“Business has been great, I’ve been decorating entire houses, expanded the range of fabrics, window seats, curtains and cushions.

“I take the pattern books over to people’s homes and can take the time to help them find just what they’re after, and I have items in the shop here that will hopefully give them some inspiration about what they project could look like – it’s been a very positive first year.

“Having three new business alongside the health clinic has revived Withey’s Yard.”

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