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Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Historical Description

Cheltenham, a municipal and parliamentary borough, the head of a poor law union and county court district, and a parish in Gloucestershire. The town stands on the river Chelt, 9 miles ENE of Gloucester, 9 S of Tewkesbury, and 94 distant by road and 120 by rail from London. It has stations on the M.R. and G.W.R. The site of the town is a fertile valley sheltered on the north and east by the Cotswold Hills; the climate is comparatively mild and equable, and the environs show charming features of wood and mansion on the plain, and include brilliant scenery and noble prospects among the Cotswolds. The town is supposed to be of Saxon origin, but it remained a small straggling place at the close of the 17th century, and it owed its present consequence to the discovery of medicinal springs in 1716, and to an invalid sojourn at it of George III. in 1788. It is now one of the finest and most fashionable towns in the kingdom, a great resort of visitors in quest of health or pleasure, and a chosen permanent residence of many wealthy people and retired military men. Golf is played on the splendid links on Cleeve Hill. The streets are spacious and well planned, and so profusely lined with trees as to have gained for Cheltenham the title of the "Garden Town of England." The Promenade is a fine street with rows of trees along the footpaths, planted as long ago as 1818, and shops and terraces at either side, with an elaborately designed fountain and Italian garden in the centre.

The mineral springs are numerous, and they present considerable differences in their constituent elements. All are strongly saline, some are also chalybeate, and some sulphurous. The saline waters are especially efficacious in all ordinary diseases of the liver, stomach, and bowels, in dyspeptic and bilious disorders, nephritic and dropsical affections, female complaints, &c., and in many cases of gout and rheumatism. The chief spas are the Montpellier, the Pittville, and the Cambray. The Royal Old Wells were established about 1738, but are now disused, the pump-room having been converted into a theatre, and of late years incorporated in the ever-extending buildings of the Ladies' College. The Montpellier, established about 1809, is situated among charming gardens, which, with Pittville, are the property of the corporation. The Pittville was opened in 1830, is situated in grounds of great beauty, and has a splendid Grecian edifice, with a wide colonnade and a lofty dome. The Cambray was discovered in 1834, is situated at the corner of Imperial Square, and has an octagonal building in the Tudor style. The popularity of the Cheltenham waters declined with the rise into favour of the Continental spas, and the pump-rooms are used principally for entertainments. But a determined effort is being made to restore the town to its ancient glory as a spa. The corporation have acquired control of all the existing wells, and plans for the erection in the Montpellier Gardens of a pump room, which for modern conveniences and attractions will not be rivalled in Europe, have been prepared. The Winter Garden and Skating Eink, in Imperial Square, established in 1878, includes a large hall and ornamental grounds. The Assembly Rooms, the Corn Exchange, and the Rotunda are used for concerts, &c. A new theatre and opera house was erected in 1891. There are several political and social clubs, and libraries and reading-rooms, including a splendid free library, with schools of Art and Science attached. The parish church, near the centre of the town, is Early Decorated English and cruciform, with square tower and lofty octagonal spire. Founded in the 11th century, it was restored in 1876, has a beautiful circular north window, and contains a large piscina, some brasses of 1513, and a curious monument of 1643. Trinity Church, near the Pittville Spa, is a commodious Gothic structure, erected as a chapel of ease, principally at the expense of Lord Sherbome. St John's Church, in Berkeley Street, was erected in 1828. St Paul's Church, in St Paul's Street, is a spacious structure, built in 1831 by voluntary subscription. St James' Church, in Suffolk Square, is a Gothic edifice, erected by subscription in 1830. Christ Church, in Lansdowne Terrace, is a beautiful edifice in the Early English style, with a lofty tower; it was erected in 1840, and is the largest church in the town. St Peter's Church, in Tewkesbury Road, is an edifice in the Norman style, erected in 1848, with a round tower 90 feet high. St Luke's Church, in Bath Road, is an erection of 1855, in the Early English style; it was enlarged in 1868. St Mark's Church was built in 1861, is in the Decorated English style, and is situated in the Gloucester Road. All Saints' Church was built in 1868, is cruciform, in the Early French style, and is situated near Pittville Circus. St Matthew's, in Clarence Street, was erected in 1879 as a chapel of ease to St Mary's, and is a large handsome edifice in the Decorated style, that cost upwards of £25,000. St Stephen's, in St Stephen's Road, is an Early English structure of 1883. The Roman Catholic church of St Gregory, in St James's Square, is a fine cruciform edifice in the Early Decorated style. There are Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Wesleyan, Free Methodist, and Unitarian chapels, meeting houses for the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, the Brethren, and the Society of Friends, and a synagogue for Jews. Cheltenham is a great educational centre. The college, founded in 1841, is one of the great public schools of the country. The buildings are extensive and well situated, in the Late Perpendicular style, and include a chapel, erected in commemoration of its Jubilee, and a museum. There are usually about 600 boys. The Cheltenham Ladies' College, founded in 1854, occupies a fine range of buildings in Bays-hill, and supplies a liberal education to girls; it is proprietary, and has accommodation for over 800 pupils. There are two Normal Training Colleges for Church of England schoolmasters and schoolmistresses. That for schoolmasters was founded in 1847 by Dean Close, is a handsome quadrangular building in the Early Pointed style, and has accommodation for 100 students; that for schoolmistresses was founded in 1869, and is situated in St Mary's Hall. The Grammar School was founded in 1578 by Richard Pate, Recorder of Gloucester; it was reconstructed in 1881 under a board of governors, and has, besides several other scholarships, an exhibition to Pembroke College, Oxford. It occupies commodious new buildings in the High Street. The Dean Close Memorial School for the middle classes was opened in 1886. Cheltenham also possesses a school of cookery, a high school for girls, and numerous elementary schools, a masonic hall, a general hospital, a fever hospital, male and female orphan asylums, almshouses, and a workhouse. Two free recreation grounds, one presented by Mr J. T. Agg Gardner and the other by the corporation, are provided for the working classes. The corporation also controls the waterworks, the electric lighting, and the public swimming baths.

The town has a head post office, five banks, is a seat of petty sessions, and publishes one daily and five weekly newspapers. Nearly all the trade is dependent on visitors and wealthy residents. The shops are very numerous and handsome. The town was made a parliamentary borough in 1832, and sends one member to the House of Commons. By the Boundary Act of 1868 portion of the parish of Leckhampton was included, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, portion of the parish of Charlton Kings was also added. During 1893 the boundaries were extended in a much larger degree. In 1876 the town was incorporated by charter, and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. The municipal borough is co-extensive with the parish, and is divided for local purposes into six wards. Population, 42,914; population of the parliamentary borough, 49,775. The manor belonged to Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror; passed to the Earls of Salisbury, Feschamp Abbey, Sion Gunnery, Prince Charles, and the Duttons. The living of the mother parish is a rectory, and those of the ecclesiastical parishes are vicarages in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; across value, of the parochial living of St Mary (with St Matthew and Holy Trinity), £1000 ; of St John, £250 ; of St Paul, £140 ; of St James, £250 ; of St Peter, £280 ; of St Luke (with Emmanuel), £550; of Christ Church, £450; of St Mark, £280; of All Saints, £450; of St Stephen, £350. Patrons of the rectory, Christ Church, and St John's, Simeon's Trustees; of Holy Trinity, St James', St Luke's, and St Paul's, the Eector of Cheltenham; of St Mark's and St Peter's, trustees; of All Saints' and St Stephen's, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. Thirlestaine House, in the Bath Road, near the college, was built by Mr Scott in the Ionic style, at a cost of nearly £90,000, and was enlarged by Lord Northwick; it contains an extensive library and a good collection of pictures, but is not open to the public.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyGloucestershire 
Ecclesiastical parishCheltenham St. Mary 
Poor Law unionCheltenham 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Cheltenham 1558-1812, Gloucestershire is available to browse online.

The parish register of St. Mary's commences with the year 1558.

The register of Holy Trinity dates from the year 1821.

The register St. James' dates from the year 1876.

The register of Christ Church dates from the year 1865.

The register of St. John's dates from the year 1868.

The register of St. Luke's dates from the year 1854.

The register of St. Mark's dates from the year 1862.

The register of St. Paul's dates from the year 1830.

The register of St. Peter's dates from the year 1849.

The register of SS. Philip and James' dates from the year 1841.

The register of St. Stephen's dates from the year 1884.

The register of All Saints, Pittville, dates from the year 1868.

The Gloucestershire Parish Registers are available online at Ancestry, in association with Gloucestershire Archives.


Church of England

All Saints, Pittville

The church of All Saints, Pittville, near to Pittville circus, is an edifice of stone, in the Early French Gothic style, from designs by the late Mr. John Middleton, and consists of chancel, with aisles, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, transepts, south porch and an incomplete tower at the south-west angle, with a clock and 1 bell: the pulpit and reredos are of alabaster and freestone: nearly the whole of the windows are stained, and represent in an elaborate scheme figures of the saints of the Old Testament, and pious men of various ages in the Christian church: a rood screen of iron resting on a wall of alabaster was erected in 1893 from designs by Mr. H. A. Prothero, architect, of Cheltenham, and a side chapel has been added, and the west end of the church decorated with frescoes by Sir William B. Richmond K.C.B., A.R.A.: in 1909 a decorated canopy was placed above the altar: there are 850 sittings.

Christ Church, Lansdown Terrace

Christ Church, in Lansdown terrace, erected in 1840, from the designs of Mr. Jerrard, architect, of Cheltenham, and re-consecrated in 1888 by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, is a structure of freestone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of eight bays, transepts, north and south porches and an embattled western tower, 174 feet in height, with four pinnacles and containing a clock and one bell: in 1893 the dome and walls of the apse were painted in fresco by Mr. W. B. Richmond R.A., F.S.A. and Mr. T. Eadie Reid: a reredos has also been erected and the walls lined with jasper and marble from designs by Mr. H. A. Prothero, architect, of Cheltenham; the church was restored internally in 1887-97, at a cost of £8,000 and affords 1,354 sittings.

Emanuel Mission Church, Exmouth Street

Emmanuel mission church, (St. Luke's) in Exmouth street, is a building of iron seating 960 persons.

Holy Trinity, Portland Street

Holy Trinity church, in Portland street, erected in 1823, at a cost of £10,000, and designed by the late Mr. Underwood, architect, is a building of stone in the Gothic style, consisting of nave, aisles, and a western tower with eight pinnacles and containing one bell: there are many tablets: the church was reseated in 1877 and affords 810 sittings.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of England, Fauconberg Road

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of England, Fauconberg road, built in 1885, is an edifice of stone in the Early English style, and has a tower at the north-west angle, with spire: there are 520 sittings.

St. James, Suffolk Square

St. James' church, in Suffolk square, erected by subscription, and consecrated 6th Oct. 1830, is a building of stone, in the Late Perpendicular style, consisting only of nave with apse, and a western turret containing one small bell: the church was internally restored in 1876-82, at a cost of £4,464, and affords 1,000 sittings.

St. John, Berkeley Street

St. John's church, in Berkeley street, erected in 1829, is a building of stone, in the Gothic style, consisting of apsidal chancel, added in 1867, nave, aisles and an incomplete tower, containing a clock and one bell: the church was reseated in 1867, and has sittings for about 950 persons. The building had previously been merely a proprietary chapel.

St. Luke, College Road

St. Luke's church, situated in the College road, is an edifice of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, enlarged in 1866, clerestoried nave of ten bays, aisles, transepts, south porch and a western tower with spire containing a clock and 1 bell: the east window and two others in the chancel are stained: there is a beautifully carved stone reredos and an oak screen between the chancel and choir vestry: the chancel was restored in 1889-91, at a cost of £2,000, defrayed by the late T. W. Potter esq, of East Court: the church affords 1,100 sittings.

St. Mark, Gloucester Road

St. Mark's church, situated in the Gloucester road, and consecrated in 1862, is a building of stone, in the Gothic style, from designs by the late John Middleton, architect, of Cheltenham, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of six bays, aisles, transepts, south porch and a western tower, with spire 150 feet high, and containing a clock and 5 bells: there are four stained windows in the chancel: the church was enlarged in 1888, at a cost of £1,862, and affords 840 sittings.

St. Mary (parish church)

The parish church of St. Mary is a cruciform building of stone, in the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, transepts, north porch and a central tower with octagonal spire, containing a clock and a fine peal of 12 bells: in 1912 the spire was restored and the bells rehung at a cost of £1,200, when two new bells were given by Alderman Winterbotham J.P.: on the east side of the north transept is a handsome circular window 45 feet in circumference, divided by radiating mullions into 33 compartments: the original canopied piscina, considered one of the largest and most perfect of its kind in England, is of Decorated character, and forms a square recess, flanked by buttresses, with an arch on the east and north sides: in the north porch, removed from the chancel, are brasses with effigies to Sir William Greville kt. Justice of the Common Pleas, 1513, his wife, three sons and eight daughters: there is also a mural monument to the wife of John English D.D. 1643, and a tablet to various members of the De la Bere family, 1783-1810: in the chancel is a monument of alabaster and marble to the Rev. Edward Walker D.C.L. perpetual curate from 1857, and first rector of this church, who died in 1872, and there is also a large and fine brass to the Very Rev. Francis Close D.D. rector here, 1826-56, and dean of Carlisle, 1856-82. The stained east window was erected in 1880 at the cost of the Freemasons of Cheltenham: there are memorial windows to Daniel James Humphris, the Welch family of Arle, and several others, the three larger ones at the west end being of a most elaborate and costly character, one being the gift of the parishioners, another the gift of the Baron de Ferrieres and the third that of W. H. Gwinnett esq., J.P. in memory of his parents: the south transept retains a piscina and aumbry: in the churchyard are two stone coffins. The church was restored in 1877 under the direction of the late Mr. Ewan Christian, of Whitehall place, and reseated in 1878 at a cost; of £4,700: the vestry to the north of the chancel and a porch to the south aisle were added in 1893: there are 600 sittings.

St. Matthew, Clarence Street

St. Matthew's church, in Clarence street, a chapel of ease to the parish church of St. Mary, erected in 1878-9, from designs by Mr. Ewan Christian, architect, at a cost of about £25,000, and consecrated by the bishop of the diocese April 17th, 1879, is an edifice of local stone, with Bath stone dressings, in the Gothic style of the 13th century, consisting of apsidal chancel with aisles, clerestoried nave, aisles, transepts, north porch and a tower with spire at the north-west angle: the reredos is panelled and adorned with marble and mosaic work, with the Tables of Commandments in lead letters: the pulpit is of stone, with alabaster and marble mosaic inlays, bordered with boldly carved foliage: the font, of Caen stone, was the gift of J. Middleton esq.: there are sittings for upwards of 1,400 persons.

St. Paul, St. Paul's Road

St. Paul's church, in St. Paul's road, erected in 1831, is an edifice of brick, with stone front, in the Classic style, designed by Mr Forbes, the architect of Pittville Spa, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, west porch and a low western tower containing one bell: it was reseated in 1862, and has 1,400 sittings.

St. Peter, Tewkesbury Road

St. Peter's church, in the Tewkesbury road, erected in 1848 at a cost of about £5,000, from designs by the late Mr. Samuel Whitfield Dawkes, architect, and consecrated March 23, 1849, is a building of stone, in a modern adaptation of the Norman style, consisting of apsidal chancel, nave, transepts, north porch and a round central tower, 90 feet high, rising from an octagonal lower stage, and finished with a conical roof and vane: at the northwest angle of the nave is a square turret containing 1 bell: the font is, in form, a copy of that, in Lincoln Cathedral, and consists of a square bowl resting on a central pier, with four shafts at the angles: the church was restored in 1912 at a cost of £500: there are 750 sittings.

St. Philip and St. James, Park

SS. Philip and James' church, in the Park district, included in the borough of Cheltenham in 1893, is an edifice in the Late Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, south-west porch and a western tower containing a clock and one bell: there are sittings for 900 persons.

St. Stephen, St. Stephen's Road

St. Stephen's church, in St. Stephen's road, consecrated in December, 1883, is a building in the Early English style, erected at a cost of £12,000 from designs by Messrs. Middleton and Son, of Cheltenham, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave of six bays, aisles, transepts, north and south porches and an incomplete tower at the north-west angle, containing one bell: the reredos is of Caen stone, with diapered compartments, surmounted by angelic figures: the pulpit is of Caen stone, Cornish granite and alabaster: there are 650 sittings.


Cambray Chapel

Cambray chapel, built in 1855, is of brick, with stone front, and has 1,000 sittings.

Gas Green Baptist Chapel, Russell Street

The Gas Green Baptist chapel, Russell street, built in 1864, has 200 sittings.

Naunton Parade Chapel

The Naunton Parade chapel, built in 1870, will seat 200.

Salem Chapel, Clarence Parade

The Salem chapel, Clarence parade, is a building of stone, erected in 1844, and will seat 1,300. The building was registered for the solemnisation of Marriages on 19th July 1837.


Congregational Chapel, Winchcombe Street

The Congregational chapel, in Winchcombe street, erected in 1827, is a building of stone, in the Decorated style, and will seat 1,000 persons.

Congregational Chapel, North Place

The chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, in North place, erected in 1816, has 600 sittings.


Bethesda Chapel, Great Norwood Street

The Wesleyan chapel, Great Norwood street, is a building of stone, erected in 1845 and restored in 1889, with 650 sittings.

Ebenezer Primitive Methodist chapel, King Street

The Ebenezer Primitive Methodist chapel, in King street, built in 1840, will seat 300 persons.

Royal Well chapel, St. George's Road

The United Methodist or Royal Well chapel, in St. George's Road, will seat 600 persons.

St. Mark's Chapel, Gloucester Road

The Gloucester Road chapel, a structure of brick, erected in 1891, affords 150 sittings.

Swindon Road Chapel

The Swindon Road Chapel, erected in 1842, has 150 sittings.

Wesley Chapel, St. George's Street

The Wesleyan chapel, St. George's Street, is an edifice of brick with stone facings, built in 1839, and seating 900 persons.


Scottish Presbyterian Church, Selkirk Parade

The Scottish Presbyterian church, Selkirk parade, is a small iron building, erected in 1884, and will seat 150 persons.

Roman Catholic

Catholic Apostolic Church, Grosvenor Street

The Catholic Apostolic church is in Grosvenor street, and has 70 sittings.

Catholic Convent of St. Paul the Apostle, St. Paul's Road

The Catholic Convent of St. Paul the Apostle is in St. Paul's road, and has a chapel in the Gothic style.

St. Gregory, St. James's Square

The Catholic church in St. James's square, dedicated: to St. Gregory, and consecrated November 6, 1877, is an edifice of stone, in the Early Decorated style, from designs by Mr. Hansom, architect, of Clifton, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, chapels, transepts, north and west porches and a tower, with rich parapet, and pinnacles 30 feet high, and a spire reaching a height of 202 feet: the Lady chapel is partitioned from the nave by an ornamental brass railing: the altar contains three sculptured panels, representing the Annunciation: the stone pulpit and the Stations of the Cross, 14 in number, are also exquisitely carved: between the double western doors stands a figure of St. Gregory, vested, and on either side are carved historical panels: all the windows are filled with stained glass.


Unitarian Chapel, Royal Well Place

The Unitarian chapel, Royal Well place, erected in 1832, has 250 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cheltenham from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Gloucestershire is available to browse.


Online maps of Cheltenham are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Gloucestershire online:


The Cheltenham College Register, 1841-1889 is available to browse.

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Barton (Guyting Temple)

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the county of Gloucester, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtGL50
Post TownCheltenham