Cheltenham also known as Cheltenham Spa, is a large spa town and borough in Gloucestershire, England, located on the edge of theCotswolds. It 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 often featuring nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees, including Greenbelt,Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Science Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival and Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival
Cheltenham from Leckhampton Hill
This place takes its name from the small River Chelt, which rises nearby at Dowdeswell and runs through the town on its way to theSevern. The town was the meeting place for the court of the Hundred of Cheltingham at the time of the Domesday Book. The 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 visit of George III with the queen and royal princesses in 1788 set a stamp of fashion on the spa. The spa waters continue to be taken recreationally at Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and completed in 1830; it is a centrepiece of Pittville, a planned extension of 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.
The oldest house in Cheltenham is in Charlton Kings on Cudnall street. It is from the Tudor times. You can see this because it has iron spikes in the door, a knocker and of course a really crooked roof! Lewis Caroll was inspired to write his novel 'Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass.' by a house on the same street. He saw a beautiful mirror through the window of which he features in his story. This house is two doors down from the one in Charlton Kings.
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.
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, Leckhamptonand Prestbury—were added to the borough of 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 Hucclecote near Gloucester, but was later moved to Regent Motors in Cheltenham High St (now the Regent Arcade), considered a location safer from bombing.
The oldest school in Cheltenham is Pates Grammar School (founded in 1574). 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 Guide, is 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.
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 bells of St. Mark's are the product of John Taylor's Bell Foundry, they were cast in 1885 and 2007 and have undergone a major refurbishment. The other is 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.