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Main Births etc
—  Non-metropolitan district and borough  —
Cheltenham from Leckhampton Hill
Coat of arms of Cheltenham
Coat of arms
Motto: Salubritas et Eruditio ("Health and Education")
Cheltenham UK locator map.svg
Cheltenham within Gloucestershire.
Coordinates: 51°53′N 002°04′W / 51.883, -2.067Coordinates: 51°53′N 002°04′W / 51.883, -2.067
Country United Kingdom
Constituent Country England
Region South West England
Ceremonial County Gloucestershire
Borough Cheltenham
 • Governing Body Cheltenham Borough Council
 • Leadership Leader & Cabinet
 • Executive Liberal Democrat
 • MPs Martin Horwood
AreaRanked 275th
 • Borough 18.00 sq mi (46.61 km2)
Population (2006 est.)Ranked 187th
 • Borough 115,600
 • Density 6,420/sq mi (2,479/km2)

Cheltenham (play /ˈɛltnəm/), also known as Cheltenham Spa, is a large spa town and borough in Gloucestershire, England, located on the edge of the Cotswolds. 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 and Cheltenham Music Festival.[1]


Cheltenhammap 1933

Cheltenham in 1933

This place takes its name from the small river Chelt, which rises nearby at Dowdeswell and runs through the town on its way to the Severn.[2] 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.[3] The spa waters continue to be taken recreationally at Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and completed in 1830;[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Horse racing began in Cheltenham in 1815, and became a major national attraction after the establishment of the Festival in 1902.[7] 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,[8] 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, Leckhampton and Prestbury—were added to the borough of Cheltenham from the borough of Tewkesbury in 1991.[9]

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.


Cheltenham is split into 20 wards, with a total of 40 councillors elected to serve on the borough council. Since 2002 elections have been held every two years with half of the councillors elected at each election. Following the last election in 2012 there were 25 Liberal Democrat members, 11 Conservatives, and 4 representing the People Against Bureaucracy group.[10]


Cheltenham is on the edge of the Cotswolds in the South-West region of England. The small River Chelt flows under and through the town and is subject to regular floods.[11]

Areas of CheltenhamEdit

The districts of Cheltenham include Arle, Benhall, Charlton Kings, Cleevemount, Fairview, Fiddlers Green, Hesters Way, Leckhampton, Lynworth, Montpellier, Oakley, Pittville, Prestbury, The Reddings, Rowanfield, St Marks, St Pauls, St Peter's, Springbank, Springfields, Swindon Village, Tivoli, Up Hatherley, Whaddon and Wyman's Brook.

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.

Charlton Park

Charlton Park is a former 72-acre (291,000 m2) historic park with mansion house,[12] 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 emparked 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 School.


As with the rest of the British Isles, Cheltenham experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The town held the British maximum temperature record from 1990 to 2003—temperatures reached 37.1 °C (98.8 °F).[13] The absolute minimum is −20.1 °C (−4 °F), set during December 1981. During a typical year, 128.6 days will report at least 1 mm of precipitation, and some 44.6 nights will record an air frost.

Climate data for Cheltenham 1961–1990, 65 m asl
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 62
Mean monthly sunshine hours 49.8 64.4 105.7 140.7 179.1 185.2 186.1 176.3 136.7 98.8 65.5 45.3 1,433.6
Source: Met Office[14]



Cavendish House department store on the Promenade.

Cheltenham has light industry, including food processing, aerospace, electronics and tourism businesses. The Government's electronic surveillance operation Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), renowned for its "doughnut-shape" building, is in Cheltenham. Vertex Data Science, GE-Aviation, Chelsea Building Society, Endsleigh Insurance, Nelson Thornes, UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service), Kohler Mira, Zurich Financial Services and Spirax-Sarco Engineering all have sites in and around Cheltenham.

Kraft Foods' UK headquarters was in the St. George's House in Cheltenham,[15] but closed in 2011 following Kraft's purchase of Cadbury's.[16]

Cheltenham is a regional shopping centre, home to department stores, the oldest being Cavendish House, from 1823,[17] and centres including the Regent Arcade and the Beechwood Shopping Centre. It is well-known locally for its nightlife, with a wide range of pubs, wine bars, clubs and restaurants. It has a Michelin two-star restaurant, Le Champignon Sauvage.

In 2006, a house valuation web site rated Cheltenham the most desirable property location in Britain.[18]

Employment and salaryEdit

The unemployment rate in Cheltenham was 2.7%[19] in 2010 compared to the UK national unemployment level of 7.9%.[20] The average GVA per head in Cheltenham was £21,947.27 in 2011 [19] compared to the national average of £26,200.[21]

In 2012, the Guardian found that, at the end of 2011, 41 multi-millionaires lived in Cheltenham, which was the fourth-highest rate in the UK of multi-millionaires per 100,000 people at 35.44.[22]

Culture Edit

Cheltenham Municiapl Offices

Cheltenham's Municipal Offices, an example of Regency architecture.

Wishing Fish Clock Cheltenham 1

The mechanical clock in the Regent Shopping Arcade, designed by Kit Williams. The distance from the duck to the fish is 14 metres.


The town is famous for its Regency architecture and is said to be "the most complete regency town in England".[23] 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.[24]


The Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum has a notable collection of decorative arts from 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.

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.


Every year, Cheltenham Festivals organises music, jazz, literature and science festivals in the town, attracting names with national and international reputations in each field. Events take place at venues including the Town Hall, the Everyman Theatre, The Playhouse Theatre and the Pittville Pump Room.

Several other cultural festivals, including the Cheltenham Folk Festival, Cheltenham Film Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Cheltenham Comedy Festival are separately organised but also attract 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.

Greenbelt, a Christian arts and music festival, and Wychwood Festival, a family-friendly folk and world music festival, are held at Cheltenham Racecourse. 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 Festival.

In 2010, Cheltenham was named the UK's fifth ""most musical" City by PRS for Music.[25]

Film and television

Cheltenham has played host to a number of high profile film and TV series. The BBC TV series Butterflies, as well as the film If.... (1968) were both filmed in the town.[26]


Cheltenham has three theatres: the Everyman, the Playhouse and the Bacon.



According to 2010 estimates from the Office for National Statistics, Cheltenham's population is 115,300, ranked 186th out of 326 English districts based on population, with a population density of 6,410 people per square mile (2,473/km2), placing it 72 out of 326 English districts based on population density. Inhabitants of Cheltenham are known as "Cheltonians".


According to 2011 estimates,[27] the ethnic breakdown of the population of Cheltenham is as follows:

White, British: 87.533%
White Irish: 0.966%
White, other: 3.775%
Mixed: 1.493%
Asian or Asian British: 3.161%
Black or Black British: 1.054%
Chinese: 1.054%
Other: 0.966%


The oldest school in Cheltenham is Pate's Grammar School (founded in 1574).[28] Cheltenham College (founded in 1841) was the first of the public schools of the Victorian period.[29] The school was the setting in 1968 for the classic Lindsay Anderson film if.....[30] It also hosts the annual Cheltenham Cricket Festival, first staged in 1872, and the oldest cricket festival in the world.[31]

The most famous school in the town, according to The Good Schools Guide, is Cheltenham Ladies' College (founded in 1853).[32][33] Dean Close School was founded in 1886 in memory of the Reverend Francis Close (1797–1882), a former rector of Cheltenham.[34] The town also includes several campuses of the University of Gloucestershire, one other public and six other state secondary schools, plus institutions of further education.

Sport and leisureEdit


The racecourse from Cleeve Hill

Cheltenham Racecourse, in the nearby village of Prestbury, is the home of National Hunt, or jumps, racing in the UK. Meetings are hosted from October to April. The highlight of the season is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is normally held in the middle of March, during the Cheltenham Festival.

The local football teams are Cheltenham Town F.C. who play in League Two, Bishop's Cleeve who play in the Southern League South & West Division, Cheltenham Saracens F.C. in the Hellenic League Premier 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 Association. The East Glos tennis, squash and women's hockey club, which was founded in 1885, is also located in the town.

Sandford Parks Lido is one of the largest outdoor pools in England. There is a 50 m (164 ft) main pool, a children's pool and paddling pool, set in landscaped gardens.

Cheltenham FestivalEdit

Cheltenham Festival is a significant National Hunt racing meeting,[35] and has race prize money second only to the Grand National. It is an event where many of the best British and Irish trained horses race against each other, the extent of which is relatively rare during the rest of the season.

The festival takes place annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse. The meeting is often very popular with Irish visitors,[36] mostly because of that nation's affinity with horse racing, but also because it usually coincides with St. Patrick's Day, a national holiday in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.

Large amounts of money are bet during festival week, with hundreds of millions of pounds being gambled over the four days. Cheltenham is often noted for its atmosphere, most notably the "Cheltenham roar", which refers to the enormous amount of noise that the crowd generates as the starter raises the tape for the first race of the festival.



The town hall, erected in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

Cheltenham Spa railway station is located on the Bristol-Birmingham main line, with services to Gloucester, Bristol, Swindon, London Paddington, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Maesteg, Plymouth and the South West, Birmingham, Derby, the North West, the North East, and Scotland.

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

The restored station at Cheltenham Racecourse is the southern terminus of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway 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 Oxford and London.

National Express operate a number of coach services from Cheltenham including the 444 to London and the 222 to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.


Cheltenham was a terminus of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad.


For a list of bus routes see List of bus routes in Cheltenham


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, one of the largest Church of England congregations outside London, 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.[37] 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.[37] The church's s stained glass is by Hardman & Co.[37]

Bell Ringing Edit

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.[38] The bells of St. Mark's [39] 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.

Twin towns Edit

Official TwinsEdit

Twinning emblems

The twinning emblems for Cheltenham, Göttingen and Toruń

Cheltenhamtwp 10

The Twinning Fingerpost in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, United States, highlighting Cheltenham as the "Official Twin."[40][41][42][43]

Cheltenham is twinned with:[44]


The town has "Friendship" status with:

Other CheltenhamsEdit

There are five other places in the World named "Cheltenham."

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Jazz, Science, Music & Literature". Cheltenham Festivals. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  2. ^ Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848.
  3. ^ Lewis 1848.
  4. ^ BBC Gloucester: Pittville Pump Room information
  5. ^ Lewis, 1848.
  6. ^ For example, the Cheltenham Baths at Ossett#Spa, see History of Ossett Spa
  7. ^ History of the Cheltenham Festival
  8. ^ See for example, attendance figures for 2005 here
  9. ^ The Gloucestershire (District Boundaries) Order 1991
  10. ^ "Cheltenham Borough Council list of Councillors, CBC 2012"
  11. ^ Environment Agency - Cheltenham
  12. ^ A History Of Charlton Park local history web site, David Hanks
  13. ^ Met Office Hot spell August 1990
  14. ^ "Cheltenham 1961-90 averages". Met Office. Archived from the original on 2001-02-10. Retrieved 17 sep 2011. 
  15. ^ "Update on progress made since Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury." Kraft Foods. 31 January 2011. 1/8. Retrieved on 6 February 2011. "Kraft Foods UK St. George’s House, Bayshill Road, Cheltenham, Glos GL50 3AE"
  16. ^ . Daily Mail. 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2011-05-29. 
  17. ^ Records of Cavendish House Co Ltd, department store, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England and London, England, Archives Hub
  18. ^ Thompson, Jonathan (1 October 2006). "The best place to live in Britain". The Independent (London).  The Independent cites property valuation web site's survey which ranked Cheltenham #1 out of 1,833 locations.
  19. ^ a b "Cheltenham economic profile - The Cheltenham economy - Cheltenham Borough Council". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  20. ^ "Labour Market Statistics , December 2010". 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  21. ^ Economics. "Average salary falls 3pc in face of high inflation". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  22. ^ John Burn-Murdoch (2012-09-13). "UK multi-millionaires mapped: where do the wealthy live? | News |". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  23. ^ AA Illustrated Guide to Britain (1997), ISBN 0-393-31643-2
  24. ^ The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1951, p. 37
  25. ^ Smith, Richard (13 March 2010). "Bristol named Britain's most musical city". Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  26. ^ 'Cheltenham Film and TV' at Gloucestershire On Screen
  27. ^ Simon Rogers (2011-05-19). "Ethnic breakdown of England and Wales mapped | News |". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  28. ^ A Concise Description of the Endowed Grammar Schools in England and Wales. Baldwin, Cradock and Joy. 1818. p. 446. 
  29. ^ Cheltenham College on the Cheltenham4u website
  30. ^ Lindsay Anderson biography on Screenonline
  31. ^ Cheltenham Cricket Festival on the Cheltenham4u website
  32. ^ . Cheltenham Ladies' College - Welcome
  33. ^ The Good Schools Guide 2008. Lucas Publications. January 2008. ISBN 0-9552821-2-8. 
  34. ^ Dean Close School on the Cheltenham4u website
  35. ^ "Going is good for Cheltenham". BBC Sport. 17 March 1998. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  36. ^ "Cheltenham festival gets underway this afternoon". The Belfast Telegraph. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  37. ^ a b c Verey, David (1970). Gloucestershire: The Vale and the Forest of Dean. The Buildings of England. 2. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 128. 
  38. ^ St. Christopher’s Church
  39. ^ St Mark's Bellringers, Cheltenham
  40. ^ Cheltenham Twinning Association
  41. ^ Cheltenham Town Council: Other Cheltenhams
  42. ^ Other Cheltenhams
  43. ^ Cheltenham Township Twinning
  44. ^ Town twinning and friendship links. Cheltenham Borough Council.

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