The Origins of the Regency Town of Cheltenham

The beautiful town of Cheltenham has it all – stunning regency period buildings, fantastic shopping and dining options and of course it is a stone’s throw from the area of outstanding natural beauty, the Cotswolds. It is little wonder that so many people are keen to live in Cheltenham – it certainly keeps local estate agents Cheltenham based http://www.meandyouestateagents.co.uk busy!

Image Credit

Cheltenham is a town in Gloucestershire but is much younger than the city of Gloucester itself, which is only around 8 miles away. In fact, it was actually little more than a small settlement, until some pigeons were seen regularly pecking at a certain spot in the town, near what is now the Bayshill in 1716.

Upon further investigation it turned out that the pigeons were in fact pecking at the crystals of salt deposited by the spa waters that were underneath Cheltenham. These salts meant that there were minerals present and were what led to Cheltenham Spa becoming one of Britain’s Spa Towns, like Leamington and Bath.

Image Credit

Spa waters were incredibly popular at the time and many people claimed that the waters were beneficial to drink and to bathe in for their health. Word soon started to spread about the discovery of these wonderous waters and the wealthy people from around the area started to travel to the town in search of the spa waters.

However, due to the fact that Cheltenham was a very small settlement at the time, there were very few facilities for people who wanted to travel a greater distance and stay there. After all, not many people had previously wanted or needed to travel to a tiny settlement in rural Gloucestershire!

However, the son in law of William Mason, the farmer who owned the field, Henry Skillicorn recognised what could be done with the spa waters and spotted a business opportunity and a way to bring wealth and tourism into the tiny town. He had more wells dug to be able to access the waters in multiple places and organised walks and accommodation for visitors to the town.

Cheltenham’s fame and reputation started to grow as more and more people started to come and enjoy the local waters, and in 1788 a very special visitor came to sample the waters – King George III himself came with his entire family in tow, and even stayed for five weeks! Of course, this royal seal of approval catapulted the fame of Cheltenham into the stratosphere and the population of the town and the overall size of it continued to grow.

More buildings, suitable for the wealthy visitors were erected and Cheltenham suddenly became Gloucester’s much classier neighbour – a reputation that has remained to this day! To show the significance of those pigeons that were pecking away at the minerals, the town acknowledges them still and the coat of arms of Cheltenham does indeed depict two pigeons and the motto salubritas et erudito – loosely translates as through health and learning – another nod to the town’s spa waters.