Pitville Pump Rooms
Cheltenham has many claims to fame, but perhaps the city is best known for its Regency character. To date it is considered the best-preserved Regency town in England. One of the most prominent Regency structures you can visit in Cheltenham is the Pittville Pump Rooms. The Pump Room was the last spa building constructed in town, and also the largest. The waters that serviced the Pump Room were discovered in 1716. Cheltenham rose to fame after King George III visited in 1788. In the early 19th century, a landowner named Joseph Pitt named the northern neighborhood of Cheltenham “Pittville.” The Pump Room itself was designed by John Forbes and constructed between 1825-1830.
While visiting the Pittville Pump Room, you can view the original Pump, constructed magnificently from marble and scagliola, view the splendid Ionic columns, and the beautiful interior ballroom. Three statues grace the colonnade, representing Hygieia, Aesculapius, and Hippocrates, sculpted by Lucius Gahagen in 1827. While enjoying the beauty of the gardens surrounding the Pump Room, you can imagine life in the 19th century and the entertainment which was typical of the era, including menageries, traveling exhibits, and balloons.
The Pittville Pump Room is not simply a defunct historical structure, however—it still plays a role in modern Cheltenham life. Currently the Pump Room is owned by Cheltenham Borough Council, and can be rented out to host public and private events. During the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Pump Room is used as a concert hall. While visiting the Pump Room, you can check the posters and flyers in the Box Office to see whether there are any events you might enjoy attending.
Gustav Holst Birthplace
Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham on September 21st, 1874. A well-known classical composer, his famous masterwork “The Planets” has had a lasting impact on modern classical music and soundtrack composition.
Today, fans of Gustav Holst can see the house where he spent his childhood years in Cheltenham. The house was constructed in 1832 and retains its original character, a typical Regency style. The house is not very large, being located downtown, and Holst lived here until 1882. Holst spent his final years in London, where he died on the 25th of May, 1934.
Holst’s childhood home was opened to the public in 1975 as a museum and memorial to the great composer. There are only two birthplace museums in the entire country which stand as memorials to composers, the other belonging to Elgar. While visiting the museum, you can get a feel for life in Cheltenham in the late 19th century and also learn more about Holst’s childhood and the rest of his lifetime.
You will make discoveries about his family and other relationships, including his lifelong friendship with Ralph Vaughn Williams, whom Holst met while attending college. For those who are interested in everyday life in Cheltenham in the late 19th century and those who love the music of Gustav Holst, the Holst Birthplace Museum is a must-see stop on any visit to the Cotswolds.
The town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire County at the foot of Cleeve Hill, highest of the Cotswold Hills, is a scenic seat of culture and a famous spa resort. Cheltenham is well known for its gorgeous Regency period town houses and their ornate wrought iron balconies. Its Promenade is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic in all of England with its lovely gardens, fashionable restaurants and storefronts. Cheltenham is the birthplace of classical composer Gustav Holst; the town plays host to the International Festival of Literature and Music each year now. It also hosts other popular events like the Gold Cup National Hunt Festival and horse races in Prestbury Park.
The first natural mineral spring in Cheltenham was discovered three centuries ago, leading a local guidebook at the time to proclaim that those visiting the town would be on “a journey of health and pleasure.” Cheltenham’s true fame began in 1788 when King George III decided to undertake such a journey. He stayed five weeks in the town after which it became quite the trendy place – and has remained so to this day!
Cheltenham is considered the best preserved Regency town in England. Its classical terraces and elegantly landscaped lawns attract as many tourists now as they did in the 18th century. The beautiful architecture evokes a classical style and many movies have been filmed in Cheltenham as a result, including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Vanity Fair and Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone.
Some of the most famous estates in the town are Pittville, Montpellier and Lansdown. The most prominent remaining site is the Pittville Pump Room, based on the design of a Greek temple. The Pump Room encountered difficulties when financing ran out and war tore through the spa town. Fungus and rot were allowed to eat away at the building until 1960, when a restoration effort returned the building to usability. It is now a popular venue for weddings; you can still bathe in the spring waters in the Pittville Pump Room as well!
Not all the buildings in Cheltenham are in the Regency style; some neo-gothic and Arts and Crafts movement buildings also exist in the town, built in the subsequent centuries. The All Saints church in particular is considered one of the finest examples of craftsmanship in later years.
Many famous people have been associated at one time or another with Cheltenham. Lewis Carroll spent time here visiting Alice Liddell, upon whom he based his Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was born in Cheltenham, and William Morris of the Arts and Crafts movement spent a good deal of time here. Many other famous artists, actors, musicians and poets were born in the towns surrounding Cheltenham and have walked its streets.
Cheltenham continues to function as a spa resort town; there are many spas you can stay at in Cheltenham as well as bed and breakfast manors and other inns and first class luxury hotels. This is a great place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in classic Regency culture!
View Cheltenham Hotels