Cotswolds, Cheltenham

Cheltenham

Cheltenham

A smaller version of Bath, often described as ‘the most complete Regency town in England.'    
Elegant Regency buildings overlook the crescents, squares,  tree-lined avenues and spacious parks. Cheltenham remains, in historic terms, a young town of a mere 300-years.
It grew as a spa after George III had approved the waters in 1788.

 

Thereafter, distinguished visitors such as George Handel and Samuel Johnson came to be revitalised. The Promenade is one of the most attractive shopping streetsinEngland which becomesprogressively more independentand up-market as you trudge with heavy bags and depleted purse west towards Montpelier. Style and fashion epitomise this smart town. Youth and hedonism, a-plenty. Cheltenham has seen a phenomenal explosion of new nightclubs, bars and restaurants patronised by the ever-increasing student population and, come the evening, by an influx of visitors from Birmingham, Bristol andGloucester and, not least from the surrounding villages and small towns. It is no longer the home of Colonel Blimps andtweedy ladies of means.  Cheltenham is proud of itscalendar of festivals: Antique, Folk, Jazz, Literature, Music, Science...but it is during the Cheltenham Festival of National Hunt Racing which takes place in March that the town takes on a carnival atmosphere. The Irish arrive in thousands and this brings out the Cheltonians hospitality.  Hotel rooms are like gold dust somany of Cheltenham’s citizens open their homes and do a brisk and highly profitable B&B trade for three or four nights. A centre of administration, commerce, education, high-tech industries and secret surveillance. The Countryside Commission and UCAS have their headquarters here. So do a number of large organisations: the Chelsea Building Society, Dowty, Endsleigh Insurance, GEAviation, Kraft Foods and Zurich Insurance. The University of Gloucestershire has expanded its faculties to countenance the weight of the highly regarded private schools. What stands out for those of us who arrive from the Gloucester side, is the large circular building known as GCHQ,  locally known as the Puzzle Palace. This was established after WWII as a secret surveillance centre for the Foreign Office. It is a most congenial town that could well be described as the centre for the Cotswolds. Itsmotto Salubritas et Eruditio ‘Health and Education.' If you can achieve either of these, then your luck is in.

“Special Places" to Visit:  

The Wilson - Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum
Cleeve Common
Gustav Holst Museum
Pittville Pump Room.