JUN 27,2016 - JUN 27,2016 (1 DAYS)
Main Attractions: The Promenade, Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, Montpellier Walk, Suffolk Parade, Montpellier, High Street, Bath Road, Sanford Park, Pittville Pump Rooms.
Start & End: Cheltenham Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 12 km. Weather: Any weather.
Introduction: Cheltenham isn’t the most obvious UK city break destination - but, I do, heartily, recommend you to target this splendid town for one of your weekends. Full with white-washed mansions and houses, with its gorgeous Georgian architecture and great places to eat, drink and shop. Cheltenham is, particularly, a big festival city – with annual jazz (May), science (June), music (July) and literature (October) festivals.
From Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road head southwest toward Royal Well Pl, 80 m. Turn right onto Royal Well Pl, 5 m. Turn left onto and continue to follow St George's, 80 m. Continue onto the Promenade for further 160 m.
Carry on down the Promenade, Cheltenham’s main shopping street lined with elegant Georgian buildings. Cheltenham's famous Promenade dates back to 1818 when the avenue of elms and horse chestnut trees were first planted. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can find the usual high-end, high-street shops on the Promenade. the Promenade offers a pleasant place for a stroll and ranks amongst England's most beautiful thoroughfares:
This impressive building of the Municipal Offices is on the western side of the Promenade in Cheltenham was built in the 1820s. In total it is sixty-three bays long:
On your left Cavendish House department store on the Promenade:
The Long Gardens are home to Cheltenham's war memorial: another statue (opposite the Cheltenham Borough Council) is the The Boer war memorial:
The nearby statue of 1906 commemorates Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham and lost on Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-12:
The Promenade is very much central to life in Cheltenham and this famous local landmark lies in the heart of the town centre, stretching from (north to south) Pittville Park past the Imperial Gardens and towards Montpellier Gardens. During the summer months, the Promenade is at its best, when it is adorned with colourful hanging baskets, overflowing with seasonal floral displays.
Further south along the promenade, on your LEFT is the Town Hall. Cheltenham Town Hall is unusual in that it operates solely as a venue for public events, and NOT as office space - be found in the town's neighbouring Municipal Offices:
The Imperial Gardens, which can be found at the front of the Town Hall (still on your left) (east), were originally planted out for the exclusive use of the customers of the Sherborne Spa. The spa was constructed in 1818 on the site now occupied by the Queens Hotel (see below). Along the years, the gardens have undergone many changes, with the formal style you now see being laid out just after the second world war. The Promenade's colourful Imperial Gardens are laid out with an ever-changing display of ornamental bedding plants. Each year, approximately 25,000 bedding plants are used to produce the magnificent floral displays enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. During the summer months, the Imperial Gardens becomes host to many outdoor events and festivals including the Literature, Jazz, Science and Music Festivals:
Neptune fountain, at the end of the gardens was designed by Joseph Hall and was sculpted in 1893 by local firm RL Boulton and Sons. It is considered to have been styled on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was restored in 1989. The building behind the fountain used to be the ABC cinema:
The Queens Hotel behind the Imperial Gardens:
Continue further south-west along the Promenade and you see the Montpellier Gardens on your left. This parks is used as festival venues, with marquees, shops, cafés and lots of free events. But even if you’re not there for a festival, you can take a walk around the gardens. A full size bronze statue of Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is the centrepiece of the Imperial Gardens with a fountain and surrounded by octagonal plinth depicting the planets. The renowned composer of works such as 'The Planets' was a native of Cheltenham and the Holst Birthplace Museum can be visited in Clarence Road. This commemorative statue, by Anthony Stones, was unveiled in 2008 and shows Holst with conducting baton in hand:
Every summer you can see a free exhibition of local artists: "Art in the Park". On Montpellier Walk, on our right, you will find a line of Caryatids (modelled on The Acropolis in Athens) at the side of every shop alongside a feast of cafes with alfresco dining, a deliciously continental feel to the area. The earliest two were made from terracotta by the London sculptor Rossi and date back to 1840, while the remainder were created by a local man from Tivoli Street, with an additional pair added in the 1970s. Developed in the 1830s and 1840s, the Montpellier area of Cheltenham takes its name from the fashionable French town, which was renown at the time for being a pleasant place to live:
The Montpellier quarter is set at the end of the Promenade just after Montpellier Gardens. At the southern end of the Montpellier Gardens we turn LEFT (south-east) to Montpellier Terrace. Later, we turn RIGHT (south) to Suffolk Parade. Shopping here is in individually styled shops and boutiques with everything from clothes to homeware, and a dance shop sit side by side in Regency buildings with restaurants and a wine bar to give this quarter of the town a real village feeling to the Cheltenham shopping experience:
The Suffolks have become popular for antiques, homewares or individual specialist shops. Home to a restaurant in a church and one which used to be an art deco cinema (see immediately below), this quarter has an artistic appeal all of its own. Along the Suffolk Parade - do not miss (on your right) the Daffodil for dinner. The restaurant serves modern British food in a converted art deco cinema, full of gorgeous original 1920s design features. Head upstairs for a drink in the Circle Bar first, with a great cocktail list and half-price Champagne and sparkling wine on Friday nights from 18.00 to 20.00. Then walk down the sweeping stairs to the restaurant – where the cinema screen used to be you can now watch the chefs in action in the open kitchen.
In the intersection of Suffolk Parade and Upper Bath Street (the 7th to the left) we'll see interesting church:
Suffolk Parade continues as Great Norwood Street and ends at the the Norwood Triangle. Here we take the Gratton Road leg and we turn RIGHT (west) to the Grafton Road. In the corner of Gratton and Grafton roads stands the St Philip and St James, Leckhampton church (popularly called: Pip & Jim). The church is in the Victorian Gothic style, with a fine carved stone reredos in the chancel:
We continue westward along The Park:
We turn RIGHT (north) and walk 320 m. along the Tivoli Road until we turn left to the Andover Road. On our left is the Tivoli Stores Area. We cross the road (cautiously) and turn right to the Lansdown Parade. On our left is the Lansdown Pub:
The Lansdown Parade ends in a roundabout. We shall continue northward along Montpellier Street - BUT, before we take the Parabola Road leg from the rounabout. On the third turn to the right stands the majestic white building of Malmaison Cheltenham hotel, in the heart of Montpellier – Cheltenham’s most stylish district, with plenty of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Set in a white Regency villa, the hotel is classically grand from the outside but inside it’s modern and stylish, with lots of contemporary furniture and artworks, and Hi-Tech and smart technology features inside. There’s lots of space to relax, with a cosy lounge-come-library and a Victorian conservatory as well as a smart bar, restaurant and spa. After the sterling slump - you can book a double room starting from 105 GBP a night !:
Retrace your steps and walk back in Parabola Road - to start walking northward along the Montpellier Street leg. On our left is the Courtyard Specialty Shopping centre. We continue walking north-east along Montpellier Street, crossing the Fauconberg Road. On our left is the Cheltenham Ladies College: an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18. The college gets high UK rankings during the last 10 years:
Continuing walking along Montpellier Street brings us onto Royal Well Rd. Continue to follow Royal Well for 320 m. and turn right onto Clarence St. Turn left to the High Street. In the intersection of Royal Well and Clarence Street - you hit the Well Walk Tea Room for afternoon tea. It’s one of Cheltenham’s oldest shops and inside is packed with quirky antiques and crafts. Don’t miss a slice of one of their cakes:
With our back to The Promenade (to the north-east) we turn RIGHT (south-east) to the High Street, and, immediately, RIGHT (south-west) to Regent Street to see, on our left the Everyman Theatre. The Everyman Gloucestershire's theatre - is running shows from year 1891. The interior auditorium is an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Matcham (it was originally called "The Opera House") and has inspired generations of performers. You visit the Everyman to see ballet, opera, drama, dance, comedy, music events or traditional pantomime. There are two stages in the building - the 694 seat main stage and the 60 seat Studio Theatre, originally named The Richardson after Ralph Richardson.
Further, along Regent Street, still, on your left is the Kibou Sushi, 18 Regent St. A bit higher prices (compared with regular Sushis) - BUT, wonderful food in a small, beautiful restaurant. A few metres further south-west we see the Regent Arcade shopping centre. Clean, bright with lots of shops to pop into. Good WC facilities:
Again, retrace your steps and RETURN the whole Regent Street BACK and turn right onto High Street. Cheltenham’s High Street has been voted the most popular High Street in England. High Street is mainly pedestrianized. On our left (north) is the Beechwood Shopping Centre. Here and there you see buildings, still displaying evidence of the town's regency architecture.
On the 4th road to the right, we turn RIGHT (south-west) to Bath Road. Forming a quarter of the town, for the local community and visitor alike, shopping in Bath Road has something for everyone from ironmongery, shoes and health food to clothes and gift shops. Added to which are banks, a supermarket, pubs, cafes and restaurants for that all-round local shopping experience if you want to try a different experience to town centre shopping in Cheltenham. I recommend having lunch or dinner at the Wetherspoon / Moon under Water, 16-28 Bath Road. 8 oz. steak, rice plate, basket potatoe, peas, mushrooms and lemonade - £11. Cheap meal. Modern decor and very clean. Polite and efficient service.
On your LEFT (east) is the Sanford Park. The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to Sandford lido, is popular for picnics and games, and also has a large play area and toilets. The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections: The main part houses a fountain with seating, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months. The Annecy Gardens, named after one of Cheltenham's twin towns, are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens (see photo below), complete with sunken pool and fountains, lie to the west. A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. The Cheltenham Lido is an heated pool (BIG one for adults and a small one for children), which means you can be confident of being able to enter the pool in any summer weather:
Then burn your meal off with a walk to the Pittville Park and Pittville Pump Room, about 30-40 minutes north of the town centre and 1 mile (1.6 km.) walk from Sanford Parks. Built in the 1820s, this was Cheltenham’s largest spa building, surrounded by manicured lawns and ornamental lakes. You can still taste the medicinal spa waters from the pump (open 10.00 – 16.00, unless closed for an event. From the Sandford Park Alehouse, 20 High St. - head BACK northwest on High St., 160 m. Slight right onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Pittville St, 110 m. Continue onto Portland St., 320 m. Continue onto Evesham Rd. , 650 m. and the entrance to Pittville Park will be on the left. Lovely place to go for a walk or a run or just to sit in the sunshine. Stunning park, nicely maintained with a huge brand new playground. Generous investment in new park equipment. A brilliant palce in a sunny day !!!
The two lakes straddle the main road, however, the lake with the new playground adjacent also has large menageries with various birds and small animals and two cafes, one by the playground and one nearer Cheltenham Town Centre. The lakes are exquisite and include an island nature refuge. There are many flower beds which look superb in early Spring and Summer:
The park is beautifully landscaped and on the rise is Pittville Pump Rooms, 800 m. walk along a special path. It is standing at the northern end of Pittville Park, and here you can take the spa waters that made Cheltenham's popularity more than a century ago. The Pump Room was built by the architect John Forbes between 1825 and 1830. The Pittville Pump Room was the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham. The Pump Rooms building is overlooking the lawns and lakes of Pittville Park. The striking Main Hall with its ornate domed ceiling and crystal chandeliers, accommodating up to 400 seated guests. It is used for concerts, exhibitions, parties and dinners. The original marble spa water pump stands proudly in the apse, which can accommodate smaller meetings. Upstairs the bright and sunny Oval and West Rooms. The benefits of Cheltenham's mineral waters had been recognized since 1716, but not until after the arrival of Henry Skillicorne in 1738 did serious exploitation of their potential as an attraction begin. After the visit to Cheltenham in 1788 of King George III, the town became increasingly fashionable, and wells were opened up at several points round the town. Pittville, the vision of Joseph Pitt, was a planned 'new town' development of the 1820s, in which the centre-piece was (and remains) a pump-room where the waters of one of the more northerly wells could be taken. When not in use, you can wander into the Main Auditorium to see its fine interior and sample the fountain’s historically medicinal Spa Waters for free. Open: WED - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00:
From Pittville Park we head south on Evesham Rd, 75 m. Turn right, 45 m.
Turn left, 480 m. Sharp left onto Hudson St, 3110 m. Continue onto Hanover St. Head south on Hanover St toward Dunalley Parade. Turn left onto Dunalley Parade, 320 m. Turn right onto Marle Hill Parade, 70 m. Continue onto Dunalley St, 160 m. Continue onto Henrietta St., 160 m.
Turn left onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Clarence St., turn left onto Imperial Circus and turn right onto The Promenade.