A fine Regency market town with Anglo-Saxon origins, located on the banks of the river Chelt. A veritable 'garden-town', with tree-lined promenades, luxury accommodation, Regency architecture and beautiful parks and gardens.
Regency Architecture © Travel About Britain
Today Cheltenham is a busy and prosperous conurbation. However, it started out as just any other small Cotswold town, until the health giving properties of its springs were discovered in 1716. During the 18th century it quickly developed into a major spa centre, eventually vying in importance with that of nearby Bath. A visit by George III in 1788 finally placed Cheltenham firmly on the map as a major fashionable resort.
Although its elegance is fading, Cheltenham still remains one of the finest spa towns in Europe, with a wealth of Regency houses lining elegant streets, crescents, leafy squares and fine open spaces. Many of the building are adorned with balconies and verandas with finely wrought ironwork. So delicately cast, they almost resemble fine lacework.
The architect Papworth was responsible much of the town's splendid architecture, including the Rotunda (based on the Greek Pantheon) and Montpellier Walk with its classical caryatids; one of Britain's most pleasant shopping precincts. The Georgian and Regency atmosphere can be further appreciated in Lansdown Place, Montpellier Parade and Suffolk Square. The town centre is dominated by its elegant long promenade, arguably one of the finest streets in all England. At the far end of which lies the Queens Hotel (1838), with a magnificent façade of Classical colonnades. The Imperial Gardens, opposite the hotel, boast colourful all-year-round flower displays.
Cheltenham's Leafy Promenade © Travel About Britain
The stylish town centre has pavement cafes and chic restaurants, fashionable shopping, and all year round theatre entertainment. It is also a major venue for several internationally important music, sporting and literary festivals, including the Cheltenham Annual Cricket Week.
The racecourse, at Prestbury Park, is the setting of one of the most prominent events in the English horse racing calendar - the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This famous steeplechase runs Annually each March, with prize money exceeding one million pounds.
The smooth salinity of town's famous spa water can still be taken in the Pittville Pump Room. Instigated by Joseph Pitt, the Pump Room was opened in 1830 and became an instant success as a rendezvous place for nobility and gentry. The building's fine green-dome and golden stone colonnaded make it one of the finest of all Cheltenham's Regency buildings. The spa waters can be sampled from an ornate pump on the ground floor.
Pittville Pump Room © Travel About Britain
The medieval St Mary's Parish Church is the oldest building in the town, dating back to the early 12th-c. It is noted for its fine 14th-c window tracery and colourful Victorian stained glass.
Cheltenham lies at the heart of the Cotswolds countryside, so is an ideal base for exploration. The close proximity to the A40 and M5 make it easily accessible from all major towns within a one hundred mile radius.
Introduces an extensive collection of exhibits relating to the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Art Gallery has a rich collection of oils, water-colours and prints, including many 17th-c British and Dutch works. The adjoining museum contains Chinese porcelain and English pottery, pewter and glass. There are also period room displays and exhibits of archaeology, geology, natural and social history. Special exhibitions are held throughout the year.
Opening times: all year, Mon-Sat 10-5.20 (closed BHs). Free Entry
Location: Clarence St, Cheltenham, GL50 3JT - Tel: 01242 237431
Facilities: gift shop and disabled facilities.
The birthplace (1874) of Gustav Holst, who is most noted for composing "The Planets". This fine Regency terrace house is now a museum dedicated to his memory and works. His original piano is among the many exhibits on display. The composer was also a pupil of the town's grammar school.
Opening times: Tue-Sat 10am - 4pm. Admission Charge
Location: 4 Clarence Rd, Cheltenham, GL52 2AY - Tel: 01242 524846
Facilities: special tours, shop.