Cheltenham /ˈtʃɛltnəm/, also known as
Cheltenham Spa, is a regency
spa town and borough which is located on the edge of the Cotswolds, an
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Gloucestershire, England. With a
motto of Salubritas et Eruditio meaning 'health and education',
Cheltenham has been a health and holiday spa town resort since the
discovery of mineral springs in 1716 and has a high number of
internationally renowned and historic schools.
The town hosts several festivals of culture, often featuring
nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees. The
list of festivals includes: the
Cheltenham Literature Festival, the
Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the
Cheltenham Science Festival, the
Cheltenham Music Festival and the
Cheltenham Food & Drink
Festival. As the home of the flagship race of British
steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup is the main event of the
Cheltenham Festival, held every March.
2.2 Green belt
6.1 Employment and salary
9 Crime and public safety
11 Sport and leisure
13.1 Bell ringing
14 Twin towns
15 Notable people
16 See also
18 External links
Cheltenham in 1933
Cheltenham stands on the small River Chelt, which rises nearby at
Dowdeswell and runs through the town on its way to the Severn. It
was first recorded in 803, as Celtan hom; the meaning has not been
resolved with certainty, but latest scholarship concludes that the
first element preserves a pre-British noun cilta, 'steep hill', here
referring to the Cotswold scarp; the second element may mean
'settlement' or 'water-meadow'. As a royal manor, it features in
the earliest pages of the
Gloucestershire section of Domesday Book
where it is named Chintenha[m]. The town was awarded a market charter
Though little remains of its pre-spa history,
Cheltenham has been a
health and holiday spa town resort since the discovery of mineral
springs there in 1716. Captain
Henry Skillicorne (1678–1763), is
credited with being the first entrepreneur to recognise the
opportunity to exploit the mineral springs. The retired "master
mariner" became co-owner of the property containing Cheltenham's first
mineral spring upon his 1732 marriage to Elizabeth Mason. Her
father, William Mason, had done little in his lifetime to promote the
healing properties of the mineral water apart from limited advertising
and building a small enclosure over the spring. Skillicorne's wide
travels as a merchant had prepared him to see the potential lying
dormant on this inherited property. After moving to
1738, he immediately began improvements intended to attract visitors
to his spa. He built a pump to regulate the flow of water and erected
an elaborate well-house complete with a ballroom and upstairs billiard
room to entertain his customers. The beginnings of Cheltenham's famous
tree-lined promenades and gardens surrounding its spas were first
designed by Captain Skillicorne with the help of "wealthy and
traveled" friends who understood the value of relaxing avenues. The
beautiful walks and gardens were naturally adorned with sweeping
vistas of the countryside. Soon the gentry and nobility from across
the county were enticed to come and investigate the beneficial waters
of Cheltenham's market town spa.
The visit of George III with the queen and royal princesses in 1788
set a stamp of fashion on the spa. The spa waters can still be
sampled at the
Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and
completed in 1830; it is a centrepiece of Pittville, a planned
Cheltenham to the north, undertaken by Joseph Pitt, who
laid the first stone 4 May 1825.
Cheltenham's success as a spa town is reflected in the railway
station, which is still called
Cheltenham Spa, and spa facilities in
other towns that were inspired by or named after it.
Alice Liddell and
Lewis Carroll were regular visitors to a house in
Charlton Kings – a suburb of Cheltenham. This house
was owned by Alice Liddell's grandparents, and still contains the
mirror, or looking glass, that was purportedly the inspiration for
Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass, published in
Horse racing began in
Cheltenham in 1815, and became a major national
attraction after the establishment of the Festival in 1902. Whilst
the volume of tourists visiting the spa has declined, the racecourse
attracts tens of thousands of visitors to each day of the festival
each year, with such large numbers of visitors having a
significant impact on the town.
In the Second World War, the United States Army Service of Supply,
European Theatre of Operations established its primary headquarters at
Cheltenham under the direction of Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee, with
the flats of the
Cheltenham Racecourse becoming a giant storage
depot for countless trucks, jeeps, tanks and artillery pieces. Most of
this materiel was reshipped to the continent for and after the D-Day
invasion. Lee and his primary staff had offices and took residence at
Thirlestaine Hall in Cheltenham.
On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the borough of
Cheltenham was merged with
Charlton Kings urban district to form the
non-metropolitan district of Cheltenham. Four parishes—Swindon
Village, Up Hatherley,
Leckhampton and Prestbury—were added to the
Cheltenham from the borough of
Tewkesbury in 1991.
The first British jet aircraft prototype, the Gloster E.28/39, was
manufactured in Cheltenham. Manufacturing started in
Gloucester, but was later moved to Regent Motors in
Street (now the Regent Arcade), considered a location safer from
bombing during the Second World War.
Cheltenham is on the edge of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty in the South-West region of England. The small River
Chelt flows under and through the town.
Cleeve Hill overlooks the town and is the highest point in the county
Gloucestershire at 1,083 feet (330 m).
The town is 88 miles (140 km) west-northwest of London and 41 miles
(65 km) south of Birmingham.
The districts of
Cheltenham include: Arle, Benhall, Charlton Kings,
Fairview, Fiddler's Green, Hesters Way, Lansdown, Leckhampton,
Lynworth, Montpellier, Oakley, Pittville, Prestbury, the Reddings,
Rowanfield, St Luke's, St Mark's, St Paul's, St Peter's, Springbank,
Swindon Village, Tivoli, Up Hatherley, Whaddon and Wyman's Brook.
Located at the end of the Promenade South of the town centre, affluent
Montpellier is known for its vibrant bars, restaurants and specialist
shops. Surrounded by many grade one listed buildings, Montpellier
Gardens are part of the
Cheltenham Central Conservation Area.
Lansdown Crescent is a
Regency period terrace, designed by John
Buonarotti Papworth for R.W. and C. Jearrad and constructed in the
1830s. The terrace is convex, and opposite the north-eastern part
stands Lansdown Court, an Italianate villa possibly designed by
Papworth but more probably by the Jearrads and built about 1830.
Charlton Park is a former 72-acre (29 ha) historic park with
mansion house, about a mile south-east of the town centre. From
1935 the parkland gradually became a private residential area, the
main housing development taking place between 1976 and 1983. The
original mansion house dated from the 13th century; alterations
throughout the centuries transformed it from a medieval, timber-framed
hall-house into an 18th-century brick-faced mansion in the classical
style. In the 1780s the estate was emparked for deer and had
magnificent Dutch-style water gardens. After 1935 the old house became
part of Charlton Park Convent, and since 1987 has been part of St
Cheltenham Green Belt
Parts of the town has green belt along its fringes, and this extends
into the surrounding
Tewkesbury district, helping to maintain local
green space, prevent further urban sprawl and unplanned expansion
Gloucester and Bishop's Cleeve, as well as protecting smaller
villages in between. West of the Greenfield Way and Fiddlers Green
Lane roads, along with much of the open space up to the Civil Service
Sports Ground, as well as the
Cheltenham Racecourse and surrounding
green park, along with St Peter
Leckhampton parish church and Brizen
Playing Fields/Haven and Greenmead parks along the south of the
borough, are covered.
Borough Council is the local authority for Cheltenham,
which is split into 20 wards, with a total of 40 councillors elected
to serve on the borough council. Since 2002 elections have been held
every two years with half of the councillors elected at each election.
The current Mayor of
Cheltenham is Councillor Klara Sudbury who was
elected by council on Monday 15 May 2017.
'The Doughnut', the headquarters of GCHQ
'The Doughnut', the head office of the British Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is located in Cheltenham.
As with the rest of the British Isles,
Cheltenham experiences a
maritime climate. In comparison to many other areas in Britain,
Cheltenham has warm summers and mild winters. The town held the
British maximum temperature record from 1990 to 2003—temperatures
reached 37.1 °C (98.8 °F). The absolute minimum is
−20.1 °C (−4.2 °F), set during December 1981. During a
typical year, 145.6 days will report at least 1 mm of rain, and
some 42.2 nights will record air frost.
Climate data for
Cheltenham 1981–2010, 65 m asl
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average rainfall mm (inches)
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Met Office
Cavendish House department store on the Promenade.
Cheltenham has light industry, including food processing, aerospace,
electronics and tourism businesses. The Government's electronic
Government Communications Headquarters
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ),
renowned for its "doughnut-shape" building, is in Cheltenham. Vertex
Data Science, GE-Aviation, Chelsea Building Society, Endsleigh
Insurance, Archant, Nelson Thornes,
UCAS (Universities & Colleges
Admissions Service), Kohler Mira, Barnett Waddingham LLP, Zürich
Douglas Equipment and
Spirax-Sarco Engineering all
have sites in and around Cheltenham.
SuperGroup plc, owner of the
Superdry label, have their headquarters
Cheltenham is a regional shopping centre, home to department stores,
the oldest being Cavendish House, from 1823, and the Regent
The Beechwood Shopping Centre in the town centre was demolished in
2017 to make way for a £30million, 115,000 square foot John Lewis
Cheltenham is well-known for its nightlife, with a wide range of pubs,
wine bars, clubs and restaurants. It has a Michelin two-star
restaurant, Le Champignon Sauvage.
In 2006, a house valuation web site rated
Cheltenham the most
desirable property location in Britain.
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph newspaper named
Cheltenham as the best
place in the United Kingdom to raise a family.
Employment and salary
The unemployment rate in
Cheltenham was 2.7% in 2010 compared to
the UK national unemployment level of 7.9%. The average GVA per
Cheltenham was £21,947.27 in 2011 compared to the
national average of £26,200.
The Guardian found that, at the end of 2011, 41
multi-millionaires lived in Cheltenham, which was the fourth-highest
rate in the UK of multi-millionaires per 100,000 people at 35.44.
Cheltenham's Municipal Offices, an example of Regency architecture.
The mechanical clock in the Regent Shopping Arcade, designed by Kit
Williams. The distance from the duck to the fish is 14 metres.
The town is famous for its
Regency architecture and is said to be "the
most complete regency town in England". Many of the buildings are
listed, including the
Cheltenham Synagogue, judged by Nikolaus Pevsner
to be one of the architecturally "best" non-Anglican ecclesiastical
buildings in Britain.
Cheltenham Town Hall
Cheltenham Town Hall was built in 1902 to
commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, also called The Wilson, hosts
a programme of art exhibitions running throughout the year. In 2014
many of the town's historic cultural and leisure buildings were put
under the control of The
Cheltenham Trust, a charity set up to
manage and develop the buildings on behalf of the town. Along with The
Wilson, the Trust now manages the Town Hall, the
Pittville Pump Room,
the Prince of Wales Stadium and Leisure @, a large fitness and
swimming complex. A volunteer board of Trustees, chaired by media
entrepreneur Peter Harkness, controls the Trust. The Trust's CEO
is Julie Finch  former director museums in Bristol.
Cheltenham features several sculptural artworks of note, including:
Neptune's Fountain in the Promenade, built in 1893 and designed by
The Hare and the Minotaur, also in the Promenade, created in 1995 by
A life-size bronze of an Emperor Penguin by Nick Bibby and placed in
the foyer of The Wilson art gallery and museum in 2015
The Wishing Fish Clock in the Regent Shopping Arcade, unveiled in 1987
and designed by Kit Williams
Cheltenham hosts the annual
Cheltenham Music Festival,
Festival and the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain.
Cheltenham was named the UK's fifth "most musical" City by
PRS for Music.
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum has a notable collection of
decorative arts from the era of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The
collection enjoys National Designation by the Arts Council of
England. The Holst Birthplace Museum contains personal belongings
of the composer of The Planets, including his piano. It also includes
a working Victorian kitchen and laundry, Regency drawing room and an
Cheltenham Civic Society has been responsible for erecting
commemorative plaques in the town since 1982: blue plaques to
celebrate well-known people and green plaques to celebrate significant
places and events.
Cheltenham Festivals organises music, jazz, literature and
science festivals in the town, attracting names with national and
international reputations in each field. Events take place at venues
including the town hall, the Everyman Theatre, the Playhouse Theatre
Pittville Pump Room.
Several other cultural festivals, including the
Cheltenham Design Festival,
Cheltenham Folk Festival,
Cheltenham Poetry Festival, The True Believers Comic Festival and
Cheltenham Comedy Festival are separately organised but also attract
international performers and speakers. A more local event, the
Cheltenham Festival of the Performing Arts (formerly Cheltenham
Competitive Festival) is a collection of more than 300 performance
competitions that is the oldest of Cheltenham's arts festivals, having
been started in 1926.
Greenbelt, a Christian arts and music festival, and Wychwood Festival,
a family-friendly folk and world music festival, were held at
Cheltenham Racecourse. The town also hosts the multi-venue Walk
the line festival.
Two sporting events are also routinely described as the "Cheltenham
Festival" or "the Festival": the
Cheltenham Cricket Festival, which
County Cricket Club, and National Hunt
Film and television
Cheltenham has played host to and featured in a number of film and TV
Butterflies was predominantly filmed in Cheltenham.
"If...." (1968) was filmed in Cheltenham.
The Whistle Blower, a spy thriller, was largely filmed in Cheltenham,
GCHQ is central to the plot.
The Full Monteverdi, a 2007 British film written and directed by John
La Bouchardière, was partly filmed in Cheltenham.
The House of Eliott, a British television series produced and
broadcast by the BBC between 1991 and 1994, was partly filmed in
Vanity Fair, a BBC serialised adaptation of William Makepeace
Thackery's novel of the same name, was partly filmed in
The Thistle Golden Valley Hotel (now the Jurys Inn) was used by the
ITV soap opera Crossroads for outdoor location filming from 1982 to
Cheltenham has four theatres: the Everyman, the Playhouse, the Bacon
and the Parabola Arts Centre.
According to 2010 estimates from the Office for National Statistics,
Cheltenham's population is 115,300, ranked 186th out of 326 English
districts based on population, with a population density of 6,410
people per square mile (2,473/km2), placing it 72 out of 326 English
districts based on population density. Inhabitants of
known as "Cheltonians".
According to 2011 estimates, the ethnic breakdown of the
Cheltenham is as follows:
White British: 87.533%
White Irish: 0.966%
White, other: 3.775%
Asian or Asian British: 3.161%
Black or Black British: 1.054%
Crime and public safety
Cheltenham was named one of the safest towns for university
students to live in the UK by the Complete University Guide.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is the territorial police force
responsible for policing the town covering 14 neighbourhoods in the
Main article: List of schools in Cheltenham
The oldest school in
Pate's Grammar School (founded in
Cheltenham College (founded in 1841) was the first of the
public schools of the Victorian period. The school was the setting
in 1968 for the classic
Lindsay Anderson film if..... It also
hosts the annual
Cheltenham Cricket Festival, first staged in 1872,
and the oldest cricket festival in the world.
The most famous school in the town, according to The Good Schools
Cheltenham Ladies' College
Cheltenham Ladies' College (founded in 1853). Dean
Close School was founded in 1886 in memory of the Reverend Francis
Close (1797–1882), a former rector of Cheltenham. The town also
includes several campuses of the University of Gloucestershire, two
other public and six other state secondary schools, plus institutions
of further education.
Sport and leisure
The racecourse from Cleeve Hill
Cheltenham Racecourse, in the nearby village of Prestbury, is the home
of National Hunt, or jumps, racing in the UK. Meetings are hosted from
October to April. The highlight of the season is the
Cup, which is normally held in the middle of March, during the
The local football teams are
Cheltenham Town F.C.
Cheltenham Town F.C. who play in the
Football League Two, Bishop's Cleeve who play in the Southern League
South & West Division,
Cheltenham Saracens F.C.
Cheltenham Saracens F.C. in the Hellenic
League Premier and
Cheltenham Civil Service F.C. who play in the local
Gloucester Northern Senior League, and Falcons AFC who play in the
Cheltenham 1st and 3rd Division.
Amateur rugby union clubs include
Cheltenham R.F.C., Cheltenham
Cheltenham North R.F.C., Old Patesians R.F.C., Smiths
Cheltenham Civil Service R.F.C.
In rugby league university side
Gloucestershire All Golds were
admitted into the semi-professional Championship 1. The Cheltenham
Rugby Festival is a rugby league nines event held in May.
The town has one golf course, Lilley Brook, in Charlton Kings.
Cheltenham has one of the largest croquet clubs in the country, and is
home to the headquarters of the national body of the sport, the
Croquet Association. The East Glos tennis, squash and women's hockey
club, which was founded in 1885, is also located in the town.
Sandford Parks Lido
Sandford Parks Lido is one of the largest outdoor pools in England.
There is a 50 m (164 ft) main pool, a children's pool and
paddling pool, set in landscaped gardens.
Cheltenham Festival is a significant
National Hunt racing meeting,
and has race prize money second only to the Grand National. It is an
event where many of the best British and Irish trained horses race
against each other, the extent of which is relatively rare during the
rest of the season.
The festival takes place annually in March at
The meeting is often very popular with Irish visitors, mostly
because of that nation's affinity with horse racing, but also because
it usually coincides with St. Patrick's Day, a national holiday in
celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.
Large amounts of money are bet during festival week, with hundreds of
millions of pounds being gambled over the four days.
often noted for its atmosphere, most notably the "
which refers to the enormous amount of noise that the crowd generates
as the starter raises the tape for the first race of the festival.
Cheltenham Town Hall, erected in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
Cheltenham Spa railway station
Cheltenham Spa railway station is located on the Bristol-Birmingham
main line, with services to Gloucester, Bristol, Swindon, London
Paddington, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Maesteg,
Plymouth and the South
West, Birmingham, Derby, the North West, the North East and Scotland.
Cheltenham Spa Express, once known as the "
Cheltenham Flyer", is a
named passenger train connecting
Cheltenham with London.
The restored station at
Cheltenham Racecourse is the southern terminus
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway heritage railway. The
Honeybourne Line is being extended to Broadway.
Cheltenham is adjacent to the
M5 motorway (between
Birmingham) and its junction with the A417 to Swindon, and the A40
runs from across the M5 through the town towards
Oxford and London.
National Express operate a number of coach services from Cheltenham
including route 444 to London and Heathrow airport.
Cheltenham was a terminus of the
Main article: List of churches in Gloucestershire
The first parish church is
Cheltenham Minster, St Mary's, which is the
only surviving medieval building in the town. As a result of expansion
of the population, absorption of surrounding villages, and the efforts
of both evangelical and Anglo-Catholic missions, the town has a large
number of other parish churches, including Trinity
Church and All Saints', Pittville, where the composer Gustav Holst's
father was the organist.
St Gregory's Roman Catholic church is an example of the work of the
architect Charles Hansom. The Gothic Revival building was built
1854–57, the porch was added in 1859, the tower and spire were
completed in 1861 and the nave was extended to join the tower in
1877. The church's s stained glass is by Hardman & Co.
The town has two notable rings of bells hung for change ringing. One
is at St. Christopher's (Warden Hill), the lightest ring of church
bells in the world.. The other is a ring of 12 bells hung in St.
Mary's Church (the Minster). These were the venue in 2008 for the
eliminators of the National 12 Bell Striking contest, in which teams
of campanologists from around the world compete to win the Taylor
Trophy. In 2017 the old ring of 12 was completely replaced with new
bells cast by John Taylor & Co. The tenor bell is just over a ton
in weight, and the new ring also includes a thirteenth bell, a sharp
2nd, to provide a lighter 8. The towers in the locality of Cheltenham
belong to the
Cheltenham branch of the
Gloucester & Bristol
Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers.
Cheltenham is twinned with Annecy, France; Cheltenham,
Pennsylvania, USA; Göttingen, Germany; Sochi, Russia; and Weihai,
The twinning emblems for Cheltenham,
Göttingen and Toruń
The Twinning Fingerpost in
Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, United
Cheltenham as the "Official Twin." The signpost
points to other cities in the world named "Cheltenham".
Main article: List of people from Cheltenham
HMS Cheltenham, a
Racecourse class minesweeper
Racecourse class minesweeper of 1916
Acclaim Cheltenham, a game studio that made
Extreme-G 3 and XGRA:
Extreme-G Racing Association
List of spa towns in the United Kingdom
Cheltenham (UK Parliament constituency)
Cotswold Brewing Co., a brewery based in Cheltenham
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Commemorative Plaques of
Cheltenham by Peter Smith & Sue Rowbotham
(Reardon, 2009) ISBN 1-873877-93-5.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cheltenham.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Cheltenham.
Genealogical Web site including many relevant references on Cheltenham
BBC archive film of
Cheltenham from 1985
Following the Cotswold Way
16 km (10 mi) (10 miles) to
Leckhampton, from White's Barn
13.5 km (8 mi) (8 miles) to
Winchcombe, from White's Barn
Destinations from Cheltenham
Chipping Norton, Banbury
Swindon, Reading, London
Suburbs of Cheltenham
Ceremonial county of Gloucestershire
Boroughs or districts
Forest of Dean
See also: List of civil parishes in Gloucestershire
Population of major settlements
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Districts of South West England
Weymouth and Portland
Forest of Dean District
Bath and North East Somerset
Isles of Scilly
Borough of Poole
Borough of Swindon
Shopping centres with sculptures by Kit Williams
Regent Arcade, Cheltenham
Midsummer Place, Milton Keynes
Telford Shopping Centre
Local authorities in Gloucestershire
County council and unitary
Forest of Dean