Cheltenham and the local area
Cheltenham has a lot to offer - here is a taster...
There are several race meetings during the year in Cheltenham, but the main one is the Cheltenham Festival Races in March, during which the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place.
Gold Cup is the largest steeplechase meeting in the world, with prize money exceeding £500,000. It is a Grade I National Hunt horse race run over a distance of 3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,331 m), and includes 22 fences.
The steeplechase is open to horses aged five years and over, and is the most prestigious of all National Hunt events.
The Promenade Apartment is within walking distance of the race course. Unfortunately, I am booked up for this week until 2019.
Cheltenham is the most popular town in the UK for festivals. There is good reason too - it is a beautiful town with lots of great places to stay, excellent amenities, literally hundreds of restaurants - and of course, the sun always shines..well, nearly always.
Festivals include The Jazz Festival, The Food Festival, The Science Festival, The Literature Festival and The Music Festival. For more information have a look at the Festival Website.
Pitville Pump Rooms
Cheltenham became famous originally because of the waters - hence Cheltenham Spa. It was believed that they had unique healing properties. Huge numbers flocked to the town, and numerous spas and entertainment centres were built to cater for their needs.
The Pittville Pump Room - now a Grade I Listed Building - was the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham between 1825 and 1830 by the architect John Forbes. The land was owned by Joseph Pitt who gave the area the name by which we know it today - Pitville Park.
The well from which the Pitville Pump Room obtained its water was visited by King George III in 1788, and the town then became increasingly fashionable. It formed the centre piece of a pleasure garden.
Inside there is a ballroom on the ground floor, and columns support a gallery under a dome from which music can be played. Other floors hold a billiard room, library and reading room. There are three statues by Lucius Gahagen of the goddess Hygieia, Aesculapius and Hippocrates.
Financially, the Rooms proved less successful, and Pitt eventually went bankrupt. In 1890, the Rooms and grounds passed into the ownership of the town council.
Today, The Pump Rooms are frequently used as a concert hall, especially during the Cheltenham Music Festival.
The Sandford Park Lido
The Sandford Park Lido is an outdoor, heated, Olympic sized swimming pool.
Built in 1935 it was inspired by the Guildford Lido.It was the largest pool in the West Midlands, and holds 500,000 gallons, maintained at 21 degrees centigrade.
The land was originally owned by Cheltenham College, and it was sold to Cheltenham Borough Council with the intention of creating allotments. There was a suggestion at a council meeting that the town would benefit greatly from the creation of a Lido, but the committee was split. There was grave concern over committing such expense at a time when the country was struggling with financial depression and mass unemployment.
It was finally decided favourably that "the town should make its proper contribution to an urgent national need which is to raise the standard of health and physique of its people."
Work started in the autumn of 1934, but the weather was against them. It was hard, physical labour carried out during the worst winter for many a year. For much of the time the site was knee deep in mud, and to make matters worse, an extensive vein of peat was uncovered, necessitating many more tons of concrete being used than was originally planned.
Once open though, it was a great success, with over a hundred thousand visitors a year.
Today, the Lido is one of my favourite places to visit. Fifty meters long and ten lanes wide, it makes an impressive sight, and the landscaped areas and café, make it the perfect place to combine exercise and relaxation.
Open May to October. Many events hosted during the season including Triathlon, Jazz nights, Shakespearean plays etc. See Sandford Park Lido.
Built in the 15th Century on the site of a 12th century castle, Sudeley Castle (near Winchcome), is steeped in history. The chapel, St. Mary's Sudeley, is the burial place of Queen Catherine Parr (1512–1548), the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, and contains her marble tomb.
Sudeley is also one of the few castles left in England that is still a residence. As a result, the castle is only open to visitors on specific dates, and private family quarters are closed to the public.
It is a Grade I Listed Building and recognised as an internationally important structure. In March 2014 the castle opened up more private rooms, including some that have never previously been open to the public.
The Neptune Fountain.
Situated on the Promenade, the Neptune Fountain was copied from the work by Bartolomeo Ammannati (1563–1565) in Florence, Italy where it resides in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.
It was commissioned on the occasion of the wedding of Francesco I de' Medici with Grand Duchess Johanna of Austria in 1565.
The Neptune figure, whose face resembles that of Cosimo I de' Medici, was meant to be an allusion to the dominion of the Florentines over the sea. The figure stands on a high pedestal in the middle of an octagonal fountain. The pedestal in the middle is decorated with the mythical chained figures of Scylla and Charybdis.
The new Wilson Museum & Art Gallery is named after Edward Wilson who was born in Montpeller Terrace, Cheltenham in 1872.
Edward Wilson was a polar explorer, natural historian, painter and ornithologist. He gained a 1st Class Honours degree from Cambridge and accompanied Scott on his ill-fated attempt to reach to South Pole in 1912.
If you look carefully, you will find a small plaque on one of houses in Montpellier Terrace that identifies his place of birth.
The Wilson is next to the Library in Clarence Street, and has many excellent exhibitions.
Eating Out in Cheltenham
With 335 restaurants to choose from, Cheltenham offers a huge range for all tastes.
There are some very renowned Michelin rated restaurants like Le Champignon Sauvage; there is one of the best Fish & Chip shops in the country (Simpsons); and there are numerous restaurants specialising in particular national dishes - from Chinese to Iranian.
You are bound to find a restaurant you like - but check out TripAdvisor first!
The word "shopping" will either give your heart a tingle of pleasure - or fill it with dread. Either way there is no getting away from the fact that Cheltenham has an excellent range of shops, and that is shown by the number of people who travel here to make their purchases.
Too many places to mention, but all the names are here.
My Apartment 3 may be lovely - but it doesn't have a garden! No problem - you simply take your lightweight deckchair (supplied) down to the nearest park (Imperial Gardens as shown above - about 200 meters away) and enjoy the flowers that someone else maintains for you.
There is even a bar if you feel like a celebration...
Take you pick - Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, Pitville Park or Sandford Park.
Cheltenham half marathon
Looks like hard work to me - but each to his own! Either way, it makes a great spectacle as literally thousands travel to Cheltenham to take part in the Cheltenham half marathon. Held in September each year. Interested? Have a look at here.