Originally, the town grew on the wool trade, but it is now best known for its church’s yew trees and the local Rococo Garden. The town is mainly constructed of locally quarried Cotswold stone. Many of the buildings feature South facing attic rooms once used as weaver’s workshops.
Geographically Painswick is situated on a hill in the Stroud district, overlooking the Stroud valleys. Its narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of an English village. There is evidence of settlement in the area as long ago as the Iron Age. This can be seen in the defensive earthworks atop nearby Painswick Beacon, which have wide views across the Severn Vale. The local monastery, Prinknash Abbey, was established as long ago as the 11th century.
During the first English civil war (1642-1645) Gloucester was a Parliamentarian stronghold of some strategic importance. Consequently it was surrounded by forces loyal to the King. After the siege of Gloucester was broken on September 5, 1643, the Royalist army, which had been surrounding the city, encamped overnight at Painswick. Some damage was caused by the troops and a scar from two small cannonballs can still be seen on the tower of St. Marys church