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Cheltenham ( ), or Cheltenham Spa, is a spa town and borough in Gloucestershiremarker, Englandmarker with a population of 110,013 at the 2001 census. The inhabitants are known as "Cheltonians". Its motto is: Salubritas et Eruditio ("Health and Education").

Cheltenham is on the edge of the Cotswoldsmarker and has an image of being respectable and wealthy. The small River Cheltmarker flows under and through the town and is subject to regular floods.

Cheltenham is the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup, the main event of the Cheltenham Festival held every March. The town hosts several festivals of culture.


town was awarded a market charter in 1226, 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. The spa waters continue to be taken recreationally at Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and completed in 1830. 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.

Horse racing began in Cheltenham in 1815, and became a major national attraction after the establishment of the Festivalmarker 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.

On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the borough of Cheltenham was merged with Charlton Kingsmarker urban district to form the non-metropolitan district of Cheltenham. Four parishes — Swindon Villagemarker, Up Hatherley, Leckhamptonmarker and Prestburymarker — were added to the borough of Cheltenham from the borough of Tewkesburymarker in 1991.

Local Government

Cheltenham is split into 20 wards, with a total of 40 councillors elected to serve on the borough council. Following the May 2008 elections there were 20 Liberal Democrat members, 17 Conservatives and 3 representing People Against Bureaucracy.


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.


The Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museummarker has a notable collection of decorative arts form the era of the Arts and Crafts Movement.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 Edwardian nursery.

Commemorative plaques

The 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. A full list of plaques is available here.


The oldest school in Cheltenham is Pate's Grammar Schoolmarker (founded in 1574). Cheltenham Collegemarker (founded in 1841) was the first of the major public school 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 The Good Schools Guide, is Cheltenham Ladies' Collegemarker (founded in 1853). Dean Close Schoolmarker was founded in 1886 in memory of the Reverend Francis Close (1797-1882), a former rector of Cheltenham and the founder of Cheltenham's great tradition of education. The town also includes several campuses of the University of Gloucestershiremarker, one other public and six other state schools, plus institutions of further education.


Every year, Cheltenham Festivalsmarker organises musicmarker, jazzmarker, literaturemarker and science festivals in the town, attracting names with national and international reputations in each field. Events take place at venues including the Town Hallmarker, the Everyman Theatre, The Playhouse Theatremarker and the Pittville Pump Roommarker.

A fifth cultural festival, the Cheltenham Folk Festival, is separately organised but also attracts international performers. 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.

Greenbeltmarker, a Christian arts and music festival, and Wychwoodmarker, a family-friendly folk and world music festival, are held at Cheltenham Racecoursemarker. 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 features Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, and National Hunt racing's Cheltenham Festivalmarker (see below).

Sport and leisure

Cheltenham Racecoursemarker, in the suburb of Prestburymarker, is the home of National Hunt, or jumps, racing in the UKmarker. Meetings are hosted from October to April. The highlight of the season is the Cheltenham Gold Cupmarker, which is normally held in the middle of March, during the Cheltenham Festivalmarker. This co-incidence with Saint Patrick's Day ensures that the town swells with an influx of Irishmarker horse racing devotees.

The local football teams are Cheltenham Town F.C. who play in League Two, Cheltenham Saracens F.C. in the Hellenic League Division One West and Cheltenham Civil Service F.C. who play in the local Gloucester Northern Senior League.

Amateur rugby union clubs include Cheltenham R.F.C., Cheltenham Saracens R.F.C., Cheltenham North R.F.C., Old Patesians R.F.C., and Cheltenham Civil Service RFC.

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 Associationmarker.

Cheltenham is home to Steve Saunders, ten times British champion trials rider and runner-up in the World Championship in 1986.

Sandford Parks Lidomarker is one of the largest outdoor pools in England. There are a main pool, a children's pool and paddling pool, set in landscaped gardens.

Shopping and night-life

Cheltenham is a regional shopping centre, home to department stores, the oldest being Cavendish Housemarker, from 1823, and centres including the Regent Arcade and the Beechwood Shopping Centre. It has a Michelin two-star restaurant, 'Le Champignon Sauvage'.

Major employers

Cheltenham has light industry, including food processing, aerospace, electronics and tourism businesses. The Government's electronic surveillance operation Government Communications Headquartersmarker (GCHQ), renowned for its "doughnut-shape" building, is in Cheltenham. Vertex Data Science, GE-Aviation, Dowty Rotol, Chelsea Building Society, Endsleigh Insurance, UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service), Kohler Mira, Zurich Financial Services, Spirax Sarco and Kraft Foods' UK headquarters all have sites in and around Cheltenham, a recent success story being TonerGraham, bought by Kelly Services.



The Town Hall, erected in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra
Cheltenham Spa railway stationmarker is located on the Bristol-Birmingham main line, with services to Gloucestermarker, Bristolmarker, Swindonmarker, London Paddingtonmarker, Cardiff Central, Plymouthmarker and the South West, Birminghammarker, Derbymarker, the North West, the North East, and Scotlandmarker.

The Cheltenham Spa Express, once known as the "Cheltenham Flyer", is a named passenger train connecting Cheltenham with London.

The restored stationmarker at Cheltenham Racecourse is the southern terminus of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railwaymarker heritage railway.


Cheltenham is adjacent to the M5 motorway (between Bristol and Birmingham) and its junction with the A417 to Swindon, and the A40 runs from across the M5 through the town towards Oxfordmarker and Londonmarker.


Cheltenham was a terminus of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Tramway.


The parish church of Cheltenham is St. Mary's Churchmarker, 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 churches, including Trinity Churchmarker, one of the largest Anglican congregations outside London, and All Saints', Pittvillemarker, where the composer Gustav Holst's father was the organist.


The town has two notable rings of bells hung for change ringing. The first is at St. Christopher's (Warden Hill), the lightest ring of church bells in the world. The bells of St. Mark's are renowned for their tonal excellence and ease of "handling". The product of John Taylor's Bell Foundrymarker, they were cast in 1885 and 2007 and have undergone a major refurbishment. There is also a ring of 12 bells dating mainly from the 19th century hung in St. Mary's Church. 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.

The towers in the locality of Cheltenham belong to the Cheltenham Branch of the Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers. For more information about local ringing activities see the Cheltenham Branch Website.

Twin towns

Cheltenham is twinned with: The town has 'Friendship' status with:

Areas of Cheltenham

Cheltenham in 1933
The districts of Cheltenham include Arlemarker, Benhallmarker, Charlton Kingsmarker, Fairviewmarker, Fiddlers Green, Hesters Waymarker, Leckhamptonmarker, Montpelliermarker, Oakley, Pittvillemarker, Prestburymarker, The Reddings, Rowanfieldmarker, St Marks, St Paulsmarker, St Peter's, Springbank, Springfields, Swindon Villagemarker, Up Hatherley, Whaddonmarker and Wyman's Brook.


Originally developed in the 1830s in conjunction with the spas, it is now known for its bars, cafés, restaurants and range of specialist shops. In April 2008 Montpellier was one of the most expensive areas in Cheltenham to buy property, with apartments ranging from £300,000 to over £1,000,000, townhouses from around £400,000, and houses over £4,000,000.

Lansdown Crescent

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.Across the road is the beautiful Lansdown Parade, built with even more detail and is concave so the light catches beautifully. The four singular houses are all built differently in amazing detail, and are beautiful examples of the Georgian and Regency crossover period.

Charlton Park

Charlton Park (see above map) is a former 72-acre 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 enparked 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 Edward's Schoolmarker.


Prestbury is a small village on the outskirts of Cheltenham towards Winchcombe and Bishops Cleeve. It contains period houses as well as their modern counterparts. The village is built around the church in the centre. The war memorial in the centre of the village is a constant reminder of the losses made through the two world wars.

Notable residents

Greenbelt Festival

See also


  1. Environment Agency - Cheltenham
  2. BBC Gloucester: Pittville Pump Room information
  3. For example, the Cheltenham Baths at Ossett#Spa, see History of Ossett Spa
  4. History of the Cheltenham Festival
  5. See for example, attendance figures for 2005 here
  6. The Gloucestershire (District Boundaries) Order 1991
  7. Cheltenham Borough website - Councillors
  8. AA Illustrated Guide to Britain (1997), ISBN 0393316432
  9. The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1951, p. 37
  10. Cheltenham College on the Cheltenham4u website
  11. Lindsay Anderson biography on Screenonline
  12. Cheltenham Cricket Festival on the Cheltenham4u website
  13. . Cheltenham Ladies' College - Welcome
  14. Dean Close School on the Cheltenham4u website
  15. Records of Cavendish House Co Ltd, department store, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England and London, England, Archives Hub
  16. St. Christopher’s Church
  17. St Mark's Bellringers, Cheltenham
  18. Cheltenham Borough Council — Town twinning and friendship links
  19. A History Of Charlton Park local history web site, David Hanks
  • David Verey, Gloucestershire: the Vale and the Forest of Dean, The Buildings of England edited by Nikolaus Pevsner, 2nd ed. (1976) ISBN 0-14-071041-8
  • ' Commemorative Plaques of Cheltenham' by Peter Smith & Sue Rowbotham (Reardon, 2009) ISBN 1-873877-93-5.

External links

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