"CHELTENHAM, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucester, 96 miles from London by road, or 121 miles by the Great-Western railway. The Midland railway, which has a station 1 mile from the town, connects Cheltenham with all the N. and W. lines in the kingdom. Cheltenham derives its name from the river Chelt, which flows through the town. It appears from numerous antiquities found in the neighbourhood to have been occupied by the Romans, probably on account of its mineral waters, the knowledge of which was afterwards lost till the 18th century.
The town is beautifully situated in a healthy spot, under the Cotswold hills, and was anciently a royal manor. It belonged to Edward the Confessor, afterwards to William the Conqueror, and was exchanged by King John for other lands; the abbey of Feschamp, and the nunnery of Sion successively possessed it, till the Dissolution, at which time it reverted to the crown.
Cheltenham is a new borough under the Reform Act, and returns one member to parliament. The town is, governed by a high bailiff, constables, and board of commissioners. The population in 1851 was 35,051, with 6,356 inhabited houses, which in 1861 had increased to 39,693,with 7,012 inhabited houses. Cheltenham is a polling place for East Gloucestershire, and a petty sessions town, but has acquired its present importance from the celebrity of its mineral springs, with which it abounds, having no trade excepting a little malting business.
The medicinal virtues of the Cheltenham waters were accidentally discovered in 1716, and a visit from King George III., who was directed by his physicians to try the waters, in 1788, established their reputation and brought visitors from all parts of the world. The "Queen of watering places" has since become a fashionable resort. There are four spas - the Royal Old Well, discovered in 1716, with its pump-room, rebuilt in 1803; the Montpelier spa, pump-room, and rotunda; Pitville spa, with its pump-room built in 1824, a very fine building; and the Cambray spa. The waters are all saline, and there are numerous baths.
The principal street, the High-street, is about 1½ mile in length, and is interspersed with many handsome ranges of buildings. There are also numerous other streets, squares, crescents, and terraces, well paved, and lighted with gas. Cheltenham is famous for its magnificent hotels:- the principal one, the Queen's, was erected in 1836, at a cost of nearly £50,000. The town contains a theatre, assembly rooms, artists repository, horticultural society, and several libraries. There are likewise a county court house, three banks, a savings-bank, hospital, infirmary, dispensary, rural constabulary barracks, almshouses, and many local institutions for the benefit of the poor.
The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £500, in the patronage of Simeon's Trustees. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was built about 1011, and is a fine old Gothic structure in the form of a cross. The square graduated tower, which contains a fine peal of eight bells, is surmounted by an octagonal spire, and it has a handsome circular window.
There are also the following churches, the livings of all which are perpetual curacies viz.:- St. John's, value £250, in the patronage of Rev. W. S. Phillips for 40 years; St. Paul's, value £300, in the patronage of the Rector of Cheltenham; St. James's, value £250, in the patronage of the trustees for 40 years; Christ Church, value £400, in the same patronage; St. Peter's, value £150, in the patronage of the trustees; St. Luke's, value £350, and likewise one (Trinity) chapel, both in the patronage of the rector. There are also places of worship for Baptists, Independents, the Society of Friends, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, Mormonites, Jews, and Roman Catholics.
The principal educational establishment is Cheltenham College, situated in the Bath road; the building, which is in the Tudor collegiate style, was erected in 1843, with a pinnacled frontage of 240 feet, tower 97 feet, hall 90 feet by 45 feet, lecture room 40 feet by 32 feet, and the principal windows 35 feet high and 20 feet wide. The number of pupils in 1863 amounted to about 600. The government of the college is vested by the shareholders in a board of directors.
The free grammar school, founded by Richard Pate towards the end of the 16th century, is situated in High-street. It has an income of about £800, with ten scholarships and exhibitions at Oxford, There is also a Normal Training College, built in the early pointed style, at a cost of about £12,000. From this college, masters and mistresses are supplied to schools in all parts of the kingdom, the colonies, and the East Indies. Many National and British schools flourish in this town.
Thirlestone House, the seat of Lord Northwick, in the Bath-road, was once famous for its extensive and magnificent collection of paintings, but these have been recently dispersed, and the house is now closed. Bays Hill Lodge, then the seat of Lord Fauconberg, was occupied by George III. on taking the waters in 1788. Southam, anciently belonging to the De la Beres, is the seat of the Earl of Ellenborough; Charlton Park that of Sir W. Russell, Bart, M.P.; and there are other noble mansions about the neighbourhood. Mr. Jessop's nursery grounds, which occupy about 20 acres, and his aviaries, are a favourite place of resort.
The town supports several newspapers. The present lord of the manor is Robert Sole Longwood, Esq., who purchased it in 1862 for £32,000. The Cheltenham staghounds hunt round here. Market days are Thursday and Saturday. Seven fairs are held during the year, in April, August, September, and December, for cattle, cheese, &c. The races are discontinued."
"ALSTONE, a tything in the parish of Cheltenham, hundred of Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucester, less than 1 mile from Cheltenham. The Gloucester and Birmingham railway, passes through it. There is here a chalybeate spring. The chief residence is Alstone Villa."
"ARLE, a tything in the parish and hundred of Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucester, close to Cheltenham."
"DEDHAM, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucester, 1 mile S.E. of Cheltenham."
"NAUNTON, a hamlet in the parish of Cheltenham, county Gloucester, near Cheltenham."
"SANDFORD, a hamlet in the parish of Cheltenham, county Gloucester, near Cheltenham."
"WESTALL, a hamlet in the parish of Cheltenham, county Gloucester."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
This page deals with the whole of Cheltenham. There are a number of parishes within the area but there are currently no separate pages for these parishes.
- Hart, Gwen - A History of Cheltenham. Leicester University Press, 1965. Hardback, 394p.
Too old to have an ISBN!
Chapters are on 1: The Beginnings; 2: The Medieval Owners of Cheltenham; 3: The Liberty of Cheltenham; 4: The effects of the Reformation in Cheltenham; 5: 'A Longe Towne havynge a Market'; 6: Cheltenham in the Reign of James I; 7: The Manor and Church in the time of Charles I; 8: Cheltenham during the Civil War; 9: The Commonwealth and After; 10: The Beginnings of the Spa; 11: Interlude: the Royal Visit; 12: The Growth of the Town after the Royal Visit; 13: The Spa in Time of War; 14: The Development of Regency Cheltenham; 15: 'The Merriest Sick Resort on Earth'; 16: The Stronghold of the Evangelicals; 17: The Changing Scene; 18: Party Politics and General Elections; 19: The Administration of the Vestry and the Commissioners, 1786-1821; 20: The Vestry, 1806-52, and the Reorganisation of Pate's Grammar School; 21: The Work of the Commissioners, 1821-39; 22: The Commissioners - an Unpopular Oligarchy, 1839-52; 23: The Decay of the Manor; 24: The Last Phase of the Commissioners' Power, and the Battle for Incorpration.
- Brooks, Robin - The Story of Cheltenham. Sutton Publishing, 2003. Paperback 242p. currently (2004) priced £16.99.
- ISBN 0-7509-3213-9
- Blake, Steven - Cheltenham: A Pictorial History. Published by Phillimore, 1996. 180 photographs, with plenty of explanatory text. Hardback currently (2004) priced £13.99.
- ISBN 0-85033-882-8
- The parish registers for St Mary's Church (the only "old" church in the town) begin in 1558, whereas the others all begin in either the 19th or 20th centuries.
All available registers will be found lodged at the Gloucestershire Archives Office.
- The transcription of the section for Cheltenham from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.
- Ask for a calculation of the distance from Cheltenham to another place.
You can see the administrative areas in which Cheltenham has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SO944218 (Lat/Lon: 51.894471, -2.082638), Cheltenham which are provided by:
- Google Maps
- StreetMap (Current Ordnance Survey maps)
- Bing (was Multimap)
- Old Maps Online
- National Library of Scotland (Old Ordnance Survey maps)
- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
- Magic (Geographic information) (Click + on map if it doesn't show)
- GeoHack (Links to on-line maps and location specific services.)
- A list of Newspapers held at Cheltenham Library, supplied by Phil Mustoe.
- Pate's Grammar School, originally for boys only was founded in 1576 by Richard PATE, who was at one time Recorder of Gloucester. The school, and the almshouses he founded around the same time were situated in the High Street, on the opposite side of the road to St Mary's Church. The Almshouse building comprised a stone house with an attached chapel, a courtyard and a garden and orchard at the back, reaching as far as Albion Street. It was however demolished at the beginning of the 19th century, and new Almshouse building erected in Albion Street.
The Almshouse building is still standing, and its date-stone of 1811 can still be seen quite clearly; however the school building in the town centre has now been demolished, and its site is occupied by the town centre branch of Tesco supermarket, and "Pates" has moved out of town. The school now occupies a complex next to the Gloucestershire College of Art in Albert Road, and admits pupils of both sexes. [Sources: A History of Cheltenham, cited above, and Cheltenham Archaeological Assessment (1998).
- Cheltenham College was founded in 1841. The Reverend Francis CLOSE, an incumbent of Cheltenham for 30 years (1826-56), was one of its founders. The need for a new school was felt because Pate's Grammar School had been in decline for some time. The Spa had many wealthy patrons, but had also attracted men who had served overseas, either in the Diplomatic Services, or in the Forces, and who had either been invalided, or retired and were looking for a "good but not expensive day school for their sons". Amongst its other founders were - George HARCOURT, Major-General SWINEY, Capt. IREDELL (Bombay Native Infantry) and Capt. Richard LITCHFIELD (Royal Artillery).
The school opened originally in the central houses of Bayshill Terrace, but it soon outgrew its premises and the first block of the present building, on Bath Road, was opened in 1843. It was designed by a Bath architect, J.D. Wilson, in the Perpendicular style of architecture and externally, has more the appearance of a medieval church. Additions, including the building's first chapel, came ten years later, to designs by D.J. Humphris.
The present College Chapel was built between 1892 and 1896 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the College's foundation. There is a memorial stone to the six hundred and seventy five former pupils ("Old Cheltonians") who gave their lives in the service of their Country in the WWI in the narthex, and the names of all who died are listed on memorial plaques within the Chapel.
- Cheltenham Ladies' College was founded 12 years after the Cheltenham College, in 1853, and by the same group of people. Miss Dorothea BEALE, one of the pioneers of public boarding-school education for girls was principal from 1858 to 1906 (that's a long time - 48 years!)
- Dean Close School was founded in 1886 by a group of Evangelical Churchmen as a memorial to the aformentioned Reverend Francis CLOSE, following his death. He became Dean of Carlisle after his ministry in Cheltenham (1856-1881), dying the following year in Penzance. He is buried in Carlisle.