“ Gloucestershire, England. „
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I spent the first 25 years of my life, living in Cheltenham. It once had the reputation of being "poor, proud and pretty" - I think the last two descriptions are more relevant these days. I'm not wearing rose tinted specs, I know that Cheltenham has it's poorer, run down areas. To me this adds to the appeal of the town. There has been a lot of changes to the town - not all for the best. The traffic system in the centre of town is a nightmare. The wanton demolition and dereliction of some of Cheltenham's finest buildings is a cause for shame. At this point. I must mention The Odeon in Winchcombe Street - a splendid example of Art Deco design, being left to rot. Some of the plans to utilise the building include turning it into another nightclub and restaurant. Do we really need another nightclub in Cheltenham right now? Especially when Springbok (the soon to be demolished former Coliseum building) and MBargo on Pittville Street lie empty?
Cheltenham is the first place in the UK that has ever truly felt like home for me. It has a bit of everything. First and foremost, it is a beautiful spa town that can give the likes of Bath and Tunbridge Wells a real run for their money. It has the races and the Gold Cup. It is a clean city (unlike Bath) and has much less traffic and traffic wardens. Eating out is fab with dishes from everywhere from the Caribbean to Poland. The shopping is really diversified too - all the usual suspect high street shops and some really nice unique boutiques. Pittville Park is huge and very well kept compared to the parks in other large towns of Cheltenham's stature. Cheltenham is really well positioned and is a stone's throw away from so many different places - the West country, Wales, Bristol, Birmingham and not a million miles from London either. A great place to live or visit. Don't even get me started on the picture postcard chcolate box villages of the nearby Cotswolds!
As a long-standing resident of Cheltenham, I feel able to provide a valuable insight to a Cheltenham that goes somewhat against the traditional grain. Descibed as cosmopolitan and rich in history, culture and class, Cheltenham has certainly become renowned in recent years with its contributions to the Literature and Arts Festivals, as well as horse-racing and the National Hunt. However, dig a little deeper than the classy Georgian terraces of Montpellier and large suburban houses of Hartherley and there's a darker side. You see, Cheltenham "ain't all it is cracked up to be". Take a stroll down the Lower High Street or through studentville (St Pauls and Pitville) and the darker side become apparent. Perhaps avoid taking a trip into the centre on a late Saturday night; for fear of assault and drunken yobs. Chav-culture was born and bred in Cheltenham and thrives in many areas today. Crime may be low, unemployment may be even lower but there are areas of Cheltenham that are suffering from the rapid increase in visitors and tourists to the Regency town. As many areas thrive (Charlton Kings, much of the town centre), other areas are falling rapidly into disrepute and criminal deviance (check out the stacks of get-rich quick cardboard housing that is being erected near GCHQ). Councellors take note and address the new Cheltenham before it's too late.
Cheltenham lies in Gloucestershire at the heart of the Cotswolds, a very beautiful part of England. I spent a valentine weekend there earlier this year which was my first full experience of the town. ~BRIEF HISTORY OF CHELTENHAM~ Cheltenham is an Anglo-Saxon market town which was completely transformed in the Georgian era. It wasn't until 1716 when it's fortunes turned on an upward curve, as legend has it pigeons were spotted in a muddy field pecking at salt deposits left by a natural mineral spring (for this reason pigeons appear on the towns crest). This obscure event saw local entrepeneurs warm to the benefits which a natural spa could offer an over indulgent society. Within a few years wells and pump rooms were built and Cheltenham became a magnet for the wealthy who embraced the healing waters springing forth from the ground. King George the 3rd visited in 1788 and with the Royal patronage he gave, a building boom ensued. Georgian society flocked and built rows and rows of delightful Regency terraces complete with ornate wrought iron railings and pretty garden squares and parks. At it's height when Cheltenham was a holiday haven for rich Londoners and the place to be seen, Cheltenham was the largest Regency town in England. In recent times Cheltenham has avoided the sixties and seventies building booms and in the process retained it's allure as a supreme example of how Georgian society was like. It has retained a huge amount of architecture (only Bath has more Georgian architecture) and is as beautiful a large town as there is anywhere in England. ~HOW TO GET THERE~ If your travelling by car from the North or South then exit the M5 motorway at either junction 10 or 11 and follow the signs for Cheltenham. If your from the West (Wales) or East of the country then use the A40 which links with the ring road. Compared to large cities like Birmingham and London, traffic is much lighter although centrally congestion can occur. Cheltenham Spa Railway station is a main station on the Great Western line and has good links (Bristol/ Cardiff/ Gloucester/ Birmingham/ London Paddington). ~PLACES OF INTEREST~ Pittville Park - Is located at the North part of the town and houses the famous Pittville Pump Room whose natural waters still flow to this day. If your of a brave disposition then you can sample the taste although I wouldn't heartily recommend. As well as the Pump Room the Park is very beautiful and a delightful example of how a Regency park was like. The park houses scenic lakes and gardens and ornate bridges. Holst birthplace museum - Gustav Holst the composer of The Planets Suite was born and lived in the town from 1874, the museum is a shrine to Gustav and has lots of memorabilia linked to him. Art Gallery and Museum - Has a large collection of costumes and jewellery, very interesting museum as far as museums go. For the best examples of Regency architecture, stay central and seek out the Montpellier, Regent and Bayshill areas of the town all within a stones throw of the main shopping areas. Cheltenham is very famous as the host to the National Hunt festival of racing, held in late March, culminating with the climactic Gold Cup. During festival week the town is taken over by the racing fraternity, especially the racing mad Irish and bear in mind that all accomodation during this week is booked up months in advance. Further afield are of course the Cotswolds, an unspoilt area of natural beauty. There are loads of little Cotswold towns and villages worth a trip including Bibury, Chipping Camden, Bourton On The Water and Stow On The Wold. There are public footpaths all over the Cotswolds so you can get out your hiking boots and see for yourself what the Cotswolds have to offer. To the East of Cheltenham lies the Forest of Dean an ancient Royal hunting forest where Car Rallys are a regular occurence. Cheltenham has also become famous as a festival town, not a month goes by without some sort of festival taking place. The most famous is undoubtedly the International Festival of Music held in July which has gotten so large that fringe festivals take place. ~ACCOMODATION~ Cheltenham with all of it's allures has a wide array of places to stay although most of which are at the upper end of the market. Cheltenham has some splendid hotels including De La Bere, Thistle, Prestbury House, Macdonalds and Hotel on the Park but do expect to pay over the odds. A large amount of the hotels are the Regency architecture itself and some of the rooms you can stay in are highly luxurious. Bed and Breakfast rooms are also in abundance if you have a lighter budget but I would highly recommend a stay in one of the nicer hotels (there is such competition from the hoteliers that bargains can be had from the internet, buy one night get another free etc). There are probably too many hotels in Cheltenham for most of the year but that is because the Hoteliers make a killing during the racing in March and can afford to have empty rooms and make a loss at other times. Alternatively there are many holiday cottages on the outskirts of town which can be hired and could be a better bet if your a family or someone seeking a bit more peace and quiet. ~SHOPPING~ All of the top names are based in Cheltenham and it is an excellent town to spend an afternoon seeking some bargains. The shopping mall in Regent Arcade houses the famous Wishing, Fishing Clock an unusual creation that hangs from the ceiling. The plusher area of town has plenty of specialist shops, boutiques, fashion designers and antiques which give the town a varied and cultured feel. The shops themselves are buried in between the architecture complete with fountains, squares, gardens and statues. Further out of town lies the Beechwood malls and also a massive Waitrose supermarket. ~NIG HTLIFE AND EATING OUT~ Cheltenham is one of the largest towns in the area and with a large amount of students nearby in Gloucester the town has become a magnet for the reveller much like any other English town thesedays it would seem. Within a mile radius there would be at least a hundred licensed premises, too much in my view, but then again all appear to be packed to the rafters. I do remember an unusual gothic style building with burning pyres outside but forget the name off the top of my head. Wetherspoons, Hogshead and other chains are located centrally although some of the more pleasant and quiter public houses lie in the backstreets. Cheltenham is well served by it's range of restaurants. We had a superb Chinese in the Mayflower and Valentine meal in Sirocco where the food was delicious and beautifully prepared. I saw many Italians, Indians and French establishments among others. Some of the restaurants are very over-priced such as Storyteller and Sacre Fleur and it's wise to check the window menus before entering. Because there is a large amount of restaurants it's quite easy to walk in without the need to book. ~AFTER THOUGHTS~ My visit to Cheltenham was back in February so I've had time to think back and not let my opinion on it be tainted by the moment ! I thought the town was thriving, interesting, clean and beautiful. It is certainly a better bet as a destination than some other larger places which have disappointed me such as Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester. I would recommend a weekend there to anybody wishing a few days away from it all. You can stay in Cheltenham itself, enjoy the sights and shopping or use it as a base to explore the delightful Cotswolds. Cheltenham isn't exactly cheap being a fashionable town but bargains and value can be snapped up if you look hard enough. ================================ WormThatTurned 2004
Cheltenham Spa, the ‘Center For The Cotswolds’ is one of the cleanest and most sophisticated towns I’ve ever visited. I’ve recently changed jobs and as a result, this has led to me moving house from Manchester to Cheltenham. Cheltenham became a Spa town in 1716 and it is said that in 1788, King George III brought his royal family to Cheltenham to ‘take the waters’ and following this, the seal of approval was firmly placed on Cheltenham as the most fashionable of spa towns. Within the centre of Cheltenham there is a feeling of wealth with the classic ‘regency’ architecture, which makes up the towns conservation area of outstanding importance, this includes the quarters of Montpellier and Lansdown. Cheltenham was recently the winner of ‘Beautiful Britain in Bloom’ as the town is full of colour throughout the year especially in its many parks and gardens. There is a great history to Cheltenham and some wonderful places to visit. The Art Gallery and Museum is one of the finest regional museums in England and contains British and Dutch paintings dating from the 17th century to present day. At the Pittville Pump Room and Museum, which is Cheltenham’s finest regency building, the waters of the spa can still be taken and on display in the museum are original costumes from 1760 to the elegant 1930’s. To the shopaholic, Cheltenham would be heaven, with a wealth of department stores, shopping centres antique shops and specialist craft establishments. The town has three main unique areas of shopping. The tree lined Promenade is one of the finest boulevards in the country and is home to some of the best shoe shops, bookstores and fashion houses. Regent Arcade hosts a wealth of cafes, restaurants and boutiques and Beechwood Place Shopping Centre is home to a large range of specialist retailers. Eating out can be great fun in Cheltenham with its vast selection of restaurants and cafes with anything from international cuisine to a relaxing pub atmosphere. Cheltenham is alive at night with some very classy wine bars, pubs and a good selection of clubs, but on this one there are still a lot of places I’ve yet to checkout but one club I can highly recommend is Subtone which is situated along the tree lined Promenade (also the place where you’ll find some very cool shops in the daytime). In July, Cheltenham hosts an International festival of music and one of Literature in October. For people who like the Theatre, the Everyman Theatre offers a wealth of entertainment including touring West End Productions. Parking within Cheltenham couldn’t be easier with a selection of good-sized car parks all around the centre and all at reasonable rates. Famous for its Race Course, the town can get extremely busy and traffic can be bad on race days, many of the guest houses and hotels will be heavily booked at these times. A short drive out of Cheltenham will take you straight into the real beauty of the Cotswolds, the scenery is breathtaking and there are many beautiful little villages to visit such as Bourton-On-The-Water, Stow-On-The-Wold, Moreton-In-Marsh, Burford, Blockley, Chipping Camden, Broadway, Stanton, Stanway and Winchcomb, each with it’s own history and its own attractions. There are many manor houses and castles to visit each telling a historical story and the nearby Sudeley Castle was the home of Katherine Parr (Henry VIII's sixth wife). You can experience a trip back to Roman Britain with a trip to the Corinian Museum or to Chedworth Roman Villa. Although there is a good public transport service in Cheltenham, having a car would be a big advantage. There are many coach trips available to visit places just outside of Cheltenham, but a car would allow you much more freedom and would allow you to get around and see more of the attractions. I’ve been living in Cheltenham for 2 months and so there is still a lot for me to discover about the town and it’s surrounding areas. Property prices are extremely high in comparison to prices in the north of England but the local amenities appear to be excellent. Cheltenham boasts three boarding schools and the famous Cheltenham Ladies College, there’s plenty to do and plenty to see and life seems to be a lot slower living here and much less stressful …so far I absolutely love it. To find out more about Cheltenham you can contact tourist information on 01242 522878.
....please don't take offence with the title - You're as old or young as you feel! Anyway, I have lived in a village outside Cheltenham for about 11 years. Bishops Cleeve is a lovely place to live, located just at the bottom of Cleeve Hill. From the top of Cleeve Hill you can see all the way across to Wales! I’m from Yorkshire, moved to London & now live in Cheltenham & I can tell you there is no place I’d rather be (well, apart from somewhere with sun, sand, seas & sangria!) **Some background stuff about Cheltenham** Cheltenham became a spa town in 1716 – According to legend this was discovered as a flock of pigeons discovered a spring on the site & were thriving, locals tried this for themselves & found that it eased many of the disorders the 18th century afflicted on them. One of the most famous early visitors was George III in 1788, others included Handel & Samuel Johnson. Cheltenham is the most complete Regency Town in England. Most of the town center lies within a conservation area of outstanding importance. The town was patronised by nobel & royal visitors including the Duke of Wellington & Princess (later Queen) Victoria. **Some of the places to visit are** The Holst Birthplace Museum: This details the life of the famous musician and is on the Clarence Road. You can even see his piano in this restored Regency house. Pittville Pump Room: This was completed in 1830. The centre piece for the estate built for Joseph Pitt. The Pump Room still offers visitors a sample of the spa waters. Cheltenham’s Art Gallery and Museum: Clarence Street, The Edward Wilson gallery shows the life chronicles of Antarctic explorer who perished with Scott on his expedition on to the South Pole in 1912. Berkeley Castle: England’s oldest inhabited castle and most historic home Sudeley Castle: Once the home to Katherine Parr – Henry VIIIR 17;s wife. **Star Attraction** The main attraction of the whole year that really pulls the tourists in is of course the Gold Cup, as this was cancelled last year I feel this years event will be bigger than ever! More Irish betting and all beginning on 12th & finishing on the 14th March. This is terrible for the locals as Bishops Cleeve is a village a mile out past the racecourse – I have leant not to bother going to work!! Or at least finish early, the traffic is horrendous! **Most important – Bars, clubs & pubs** There are many bars; pubs & clubs for the evening & all have a decent atmosphere, try the new bars Toad, Bar med and Springbok. For food try Ask, Daffodil (if you would like more info I have written an op about that great restaurant, plug, plug!!) or even petit bBlanc owned by Raymond Blanc the very famous chef (daf is still my favourite though) Clubs include Time – Not too bad The Fez club – Terrible! Very cheesy! & Full of little girls in very short skirts (some may go for this?!) The Office - For the older, single, sad ones (my ex used to frequent this joint before we met!) Enigma – for the students Equal – Gay club Niche – New & I haven’t been yet!! Embassy – Another cheesy club Po Na Na’s – Great for those into Dance etc Sub tone – Not bad club, good atmosphere. The Prom Club – usually for the more mature, always good for a laugh though Shopping is also great, shops for all walks of live, we have the standard New Look, Top Shop, River Island, Debenhams, BHS & then going up to Cavendish House & many other designer shops. If I didn’t live in Cheltenham I must say that I would certainly visit it. Beautiful scenery & fun to be had by all (especially those with a betting nature!) If you fancy a weekend away & don’t fancy the same old, same old 211; you know, Blackpool, Skeggie, Cornwall etc. Come to Cheltenham & experience all it’s delights!! Cheers for reading!
If you are looking for a break with cultural tourism, Cheltenham is the place. A beautiful Regency Town with parks, shopping, a town centre cinema, and arts centre, museums and theatre, there's always something going on. The College of Higher Education in Cheltenham offers regular lectures that are open to the public - these can vary a gerat deal in nature, and feature fascinating guest speakers. The Pitville pump room shave regular events and is accoustically excellent. trials for young musician of the year have been held here in the past. Cheltenham hosts a range of festivals including a literary festival, a jazz festival and a folk festival. These are centred on the town hall - which is right in the town centre. This venue is used for gigs, concerts and events throughout the year, its worth getting onto their mailing list. Then of course there's the racecourse, which is very busy during gold cup week, but has racing throughout the year. this venue is also used for various fairs and conferences so there's always somthing going on. If you want to venture out of Cheltenham, there is a nearby earthwork called Belas nap, its close to Gloucerster, you can get to the wildfowl and wetlands trust at Slimbridge. There are many picturesque villages around the town and plenty of places to walk. Prices for accomodation are a touch on the expensive side, but if you shop around or stay outside the town, there are plenty of options.
I've lived in Cheltenham for 3 years, as a boarder at one of the 3 main boarding schools in the town. As a result, I've spent a lot of time in town, some with the schools knowledge, and some time rather later, when I'm 'in bed,' yea right! The clubs are good! ;) You can't not notice the elegance of Cheltenham, with it's attractive regency buildings. The distinct lack of high rise buildings is quite noticible. The shops are varied and interesting. The main shopping centre, is Regents Arcade with all the shops you'd expect to find in a medium sized town. Parking is great, and if the weather is bad there is no reason to go outside as the carpark and the arcade are enclosed. Saying that you would miss out a lot! Another arcade, Beechwood Aracade is newer and still fighting to establish itself. If can be found slightly further up the high street. Bars and restaurants are plentiful, varied and nearly all great. Clubs such as Time and Enigma are all busy and a great place to spend a night, well, they're not bad unless compared to Londons top clubs anyway! One word of warning, try and miss Cheltenham on race days as getting in can be a lot of hastle!
What can I say about Cheltenham? It's got the lot! The town is really classy, well laid out and easy to find you’re way around. There are lots of parks and gardens in the centre of town where you can sit in the sunshine (when we have any) and watch the world go by. Pitville Park is slightly out of the centre, but still within walking distance and it is a lovely park with swings for the children and an aviary. It also has Pitville Pump rooms which house information about the spa of 'Cheltenham Spa' and tea rooms etc. You can try a glass of the spa water, if you’re really brave – it’s revolting! The shopping is excellent with large stores, designer outlets, little gift shops and airy shopping malls. The amount of good quality shops is exactly what you'd expect in such a town as Cheltenham. There are lots of different places to eat from smart tea-rooms to restaurants and from Pizza houses to posh hotels. The nightlife is plentiful and varied. Many of the pubs have outdoor seating in the summer, which helps to create a holiday atmosphere. There are many nightclubs catering for all tastes in music. There are plenty of places to stay in Cheltenham with a good variety to suit all pockets. The only word of warning is that you are unlikely to find accommodation during the third week in March when the Cheltenham race festival is on - the whole of Ireland comes to Cheltenham that week! Cheltenham also hosts a music festival in July with a week of music events with something to suit everyone culminating in an outdoor concert in Pitville Park ending with a big firework display.