What to see and do in Cheltenham, UK
Cheltenham is a town in the South West of the UK, on the edge of the Cotswolds, and sits right next to its sister town of Gloucester. The two towns began life as two villages 5 miles apart, but have since grown into two large towns right next to each other, almost joining. This article is about Cheltenham, and things to see and do there.
Cheltenham gets its name from the small river Chelt, which flows from nearby Dowdeswell and runs through the town on its way to the Severn. The town was awarded a market charter in 1226. Little is known about the early (pre-18th Century) history of the town. In 1788 King George III came for five weeks to visit the springs in Cheltenham; he was followed by many aristocratic and distinguished figures of the period, and Cheltenham’s transformation into a fashionable resort began.
Tourist attractions in Cheltenham include:
1) Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum – Contains some world famous art and artefacts including collection of William Morris – Arts and Crafts Movement; the story of Edward Wilson (who was from Cheltenham), and who went with Scott to the Antarctic; collections of rare 17th-19th Century Dutch paintings; collections of rare oriental and English ceramics. Please note – the Art Gallery and Museum will be closed from April 2011 to late 2012/early 2013 for refurbishment. Post code of the museum is GL50 3JT.
2) St Mary’s Church – The oldest building in Cheltenham, and the only medieval building left standing in the town, St Mary’s dates from the mid 11th Century. Notable features include: the 14th Century spire, a large rose window and many interesting memorials, including that of Henry Skillicorne, who developed the first Spa. Postcode of St Mary’s is GL50 3PL.
3) Hailes Abbey – The 13th Century Cistercian abbey was founded in 1246 and was once a site of pilgrimage. The Abbey ruins remain, with the cloister arches still largely intact. Postcode of the Abbey is GL54 5PB.
4) Everyman Theatre – The leading theatre for the county was designed by Frank Matcham, and is a special space that has inspired many performers down the years. Today, The Everyman stages ballet, opera, drama, dance, comedy, and music plus pantomime. The theatre has just reopened after refurbishment in 2011. Postcode of the theatre is GL50 1HQ.
5) Parks and Gardens – Cheltenham is known as being a “green” (in the sense of greenery) city, and has been named a Britain in Bloom winner on several occasions. The tree-lined Promenade with its colourful Long Gardens is one of the finest boulevards in the country and, in summer, the floral displays in the parks and gardens, together with colourful hanging baskets along many of the historic terraces, create a lively, continental atmosphere.
6) The Cheltenham Festival (horse racing) – The Cheltenham Festival, centred on the Gold Cup, is one of the horse racing calendar’s most important events. It’s been described as “four days of magic, madness and magnificence”, played out in front of 200,000 enthusiastic spectators. Go along and see if you can come away with a slightly heavier wallet than what you went in with! Dates: 13-16th March 2012
7) Shopping – The centre of Cheltenham is home to a wide range of big brands, such as Next, HMV, River Island, and Boots. The January sales are now on, so go and get yourself a bargain!
8) Cheltenham Science Festival – One of the leading science festivals in Europe. Professor Brain Cox says of the festival : “I am an avid fan of the Cheltenham Science Festival. It is, without doubt, the premier festival in the country, because it is supported by pretty much everyone who cares about promoting science in Britain.” High praise indeed. Dates: 12 – 17 June 2012.
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