Monday, 19 October 2015


Municipal Offices, The Promenade

Cheltenham offers guided walks, but unlike many towns and cities doesn't seem to offer a self-guided heritage trail, which is rather disappointing. I found this walk on the Ordnance Survey website, but it turned out to be pretty awful with unclear directions and a focus on parks rather than the Regency architecture that the town is famous for. Clearly I should have done more research and developed my own walk as I have done in other places!

We started at the Town Hall in Imperial Square and had a quick look at the pleasant 1930s gardens laid out behind it.

We then went further along Oriel Road than we should have in search of Trafalgar Road (correctly Trafalgar St), but it did bring us to the lovely Oriel Lodge of 1825, said to be the earliest gothic style building in the town.

Then down Trafalgar St to find Montpellier Gardens, with some nice autumn colour.

On the far side was one of the original Montpellier Spa of 1817 (extended 1827).

Now back along Montpellier Terrace to the junction with Bath Rd where the former chapel of Cheltenham College (later used as a dining room) can be seen on the opposite corner. The College was founded in 1841.

Our route now took in a poorly described meander towards Sandford Park. We ended up instead in Keynsham Rd where we were delighted by the newish-looking county Fire and Rescue Headquarters.

We entered the rather nondescript Sandford Park further along Keynsham Rd and walked across it, and followed College Rd and Berkeley St to reach Albion St where I knew I would find Cheltenham's only almshouses, Pates. Originally founded in 1511 on the High St by Richard Pate, they were rebuilt here in 1811.

We then took a left to reach the High St and were delighted to spot this art deco upper storey.

From here we wandered along a leafy shopping street towards the Promenade and were surprised and delighted by this statue. It is the Hare and the Minotaur by Sophie Rider and was apparently bought by public subscription after a temporary exhibition of the artist's work.

After passing the magnificent terrace shown in the photo at the head of this post we returned to where we had parked, outside another fine Regency terrace, with classic wrought iron railings.

Conditions: not cold, but pretty grey.

Distance: about 3 miles.

Rating: three and a half stars. We saw many interesting things, but overall it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I don't think this walk really did Cheltenham justice. We also ran out of time to see the Pittville Pump Room.

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