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Cheltenham Town Information

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St. Peter's Church, Tewksbury Road, Cheltenham - Photo © Terry Jacombs
St. Peter's Church, Cheltenham-
Photo: Terry Jacombs CCL

Cheltenham was founded as a spa town in 1716, when a spring was discovered and believed to have healing properties.

Tradition has it that curious locals tried the waters after noticing pigeons pecking at the salty deposits and found them to be a cure for many 18th century ailments.

The town received Royal patronage in 1788 when King George III came to drink the waters.

This led to the rapid development of Cheltenham as a fashionable spa between 1790 and 1840. The town was patronised by a constant stream of noble and royal visitors including Duke of Wellington and Princess (later Queen) Victoria. Distinguished literary figures taking the waters have included Lord Byron, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

The heritage of these bygone times when Cheltenham was at its most fashionable can be seen in the Regency architecture that adorns the town, with the pastel shades and intricate ironwork features of distinctive townhouse façades. Cheltenham is the most complete Regency town in Britain and has over 2,000 listed buildings of historic interest.

The oldest surviving spa building in Cheltenham is Vittoria House on Vittoria Walk (1804). Two of the best preserved spa buildings are The Rotunda at Montpelier (now Lloyds Bank) and the magnificent Pittville Pump Room in Pittville Park. Today's curious visitors can still take the waters at Pittville.
Cheltenham is one of the few English towns in which traditional and contemporary architecture complement each other.

From the neo-gothic styled Victorian school buildings such as Cheltenham College (1843 onwards) and Cheltenham Ladies' College (1873 onwards), through to modern commercial buildings like the Eagle Star UK headquarters in Bishops Cleeve.

Cheltenham also has many fine churches including the medieval St Mary's where John Wesley is said to have preached from the old cross in the churchyard.

Pittville Pump Room in Pittville Park - Photo © Nigel Homer
Pittville Pump Room, Pittville Park -
Photo: Nigel Homer CCL