advertisement

159km (99 miles) NW of London; 14km (9 miles) NE of Gloucester; 69km (43 miles) W of Oxford

Legend has it that the Cheltenham villagers discovered a mineral spring by chance when they noticed pigeons drinking from a spring and observed how healthy they were (the pigeon has been incorporated into the town's crest). King George III arrived in 1788 and launched the town's career as a spa. Today many British look upon it as a staid, safe place for retirement, the town attracting mainly well-heeled conservatives, some of the women looking like Margaret Thatcher did in the 1980s.

Cheltenham remains one of England's most fashionable spas; many visitors come just to see its gardens. The architecture is mainly Regency, with lots of ironwork, balconies, and verandas. Attractive parks and open spaces of greenery make the town especially inviting. The main street, the Promenade, is one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the Cotswolds. Rather similar are Lansdowne Place and Montpellier Parade (with caryatids separating the stores). Montpelier Walk contains more than 30 statues adorning its storefronts.