Her­itage week­end... Chel­tenham

Dis­cover where to eat, sleep and shop in this Re­gency gem

Period Living - - Contents - Fea­ture Emily Hawkes

Re­splen­dent with el­e­gant ter­races adorned with painted stucco façades and intricate iron­work bal­conies, Chel­tenham had hum­ble be­gin­nings as a mar­ket town be­fore gain­ing sta­tus as a fash­ion­able spa re­sort. Upon the un­cov­er­ing of a nat­u­ral spring in 1716 – thanks to the cu­ri­ous dis­cov­ery of pi­geons found peck­ing at salt crys­tals in a meadow – King Ge­orge III ar­rived to treat his in­fir­mi­ties with the wa­ter’s sup­posed heal­ing power in 1788, and Chel­tenham Spa was born. Over­look­ing the sweep­ing lawns and or­na­men­tal lakes of Pittville Park, the Grade I-listed Pump Rooms, where you can still sam­ple the wa­ters, is the jewel of the town’s Re­gency ar­chi­tec­ture, com­plete with ballroom and band­stand. As for the pi­geons, they live in in­famy in the Coat of Arms.

The western gate­way to – and a great base from which to tour – the Cotswolds, Chel­tenham has an abun­dance of her­itage fea­tures, which ex­tend around the tree-lined av­enue of the Prom­e­nade, hold­ing pock­ets of trea­sures at ev­ery turn. Head south to­wards Mont­pel­lier, where Acrop­o­lis-style stone cary­atids look out over the in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques and pave­ment cafés that give these parts such a con­ti­nen­tal feel, and con­tinue up to The Suf­folks for an­tiques shops and quaint restau­rants, in­clud­ing a con­verted Art Deco cinema. The neogothic school build­ings of Chel­tenham Col­lege and the Ladies’ Col­lege, built in the French-gothic style with a stun­ning bronze dome, over­look some of the town’s most splen­did parks. Im­pe­rial Gar­dens is host to Chel­tenham’s renowned se­ries of fes­ti­vals – from Jazz to Sci­ence and Lit­er­a­ture; take a dip in Sand­ford Park’s 1930s open-air lido, and head to the fa­mous race­course, where the an­nual Gold Cup is what Chel­tenham is per­haps now best known for.

The Wil­son Mu­seum & Art Gallery, named af­ter lo­cal-born Antarc­tic ex­plorer Ed­ward Wil­son, of­fers exhibitions as well as Arts and Crafts col­lec­tions, and from com­edy to con­certs, the much-loved Chel­tenham Town Hall, as well as the Ev­ery­man Theatre, add to the many cul­tural of­fer­ings. All in all, the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for a her­itage week­end.

Where to eat

For al­fresco café cul­ture, whether you’re look­ing for a great lit­tle cof­fee house, charm­ing tea room or Miche­lin-style cui­sine, Chel­tenham has it all. Find a creative menu of won­der­fully fresh, sus­tain­ably caught seafood at Purslane, run by hus­band and wife team Gareth and He­lena. Named af­ter the seashore-for­aged suc­cu­lent, find fine din­ing in a stylish, re­laxed set­ting. 01242 321639; purslane-restau­rant.co.uk. Clas­sic Ge­or­gian on the out­side, con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish on the in­side,

131 The Prom­e­nade is a chic restau­rant with rooms, of­fer­ing tra­di­tional clas­sics and in­ven­tive Euro­pean dishes us­ing the best lo­cally sourced sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents. Find leather chairs mixed with tim­ber and zinc fin­ishes and a flash of neon, be­fore head­ing down­stairs to Crazy Eights for a post-din­ner cock­tail. 01242 822939; no131.com. And blink and you’ll miss Petit Coco, a base­ment French bistro pro­vid­ing big flavours from its in­ti­mate set­ting, com­plete with farm­house dé­cor and iron stove. 01242 257343; pe­tit­coco.co.uk. ➤

Where to stay

For a home away from home, com­plete with an el­e­gant yet cosy sit­ting room and an hon­esty bar,

No.38 The Park is a beau­ti­fully styled Ge­or­gian town­house over­look­ing Pittville Park. Filled with an­tique pieces and quirky touches, find roll-top tubs and con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish art­work in the be­spoke be­d­rooms, and en­joy a break­fast spread in­clud­ing freshly baked sour­dough un­der the rus­tic din­ing room’s atrium. You can book out the whole house ex­clu­sively, and No.38 also has a wed­ding li­cence. From £120 per night, in­clud­ing con­ti­nen­tal break­fast. 01242 822929; thelucky onion.com/prop­erty/no-38-the-park.

For the com­fi­est of stays with a pe­riod twist, re­ceive a warm wel­come at Cross­ways B&B,A per­fectly lo­cated Grade Ii-listed find, £95 per night for an en-suite dou­ble. 01242 527683; cross­ways guest­house.com. And for old-fash­ioned cus­tomer ser­vice, take in the Vic­to­rian splen­dour of The

Bradley, a bou­tique B&B re­tain­ing all of its orig­i­nal charm. Added touches in­clude sweet treats and Pen­haligon’s toi­letries in the be­d­rooms. From £125 per night. 01242 519077; the­bradley­ho­tel.co.uk.

Where to shop

From high street to higher brow, find shops for all tastes. The pretty Re­gency area of The Suf­folks of­fers a pro­fu­sion of small spe­cial­ist stores, mar­kets – from crafts to street food – and unique restau­rants in un­usal venues. A vin­tage-in­spired bou­tique,

Ate­lier 19 show­cases Jan Knibbs’ in­tri­cately em­broi­dered bridal de­signs and ac­ces­sories, along­side a cu­rated, eclec­tic mix of cu­rios, in­clud­ing French bro­cante finds. Ate­lier19chel­tenham.com.

In the Mont­pel­lier dis­trict, swing by Kitch­ener while you can – a charm­ing Chel­tenham in­sti­tu­tion soon to close its doors af­ter pro­vid­ing the best in kitchen and table­ware since 1972, from hum­ble home favourites to pro­fes­sional tools of the trade. And for a unique se­lec­tion of home and gar­den pieces, from an­tique fur­ni­ture, mir­rors and light­ing to orig­i­nal art and framed prints,

Rechercher spe­cialises in French dé­cor, both old and new. In town, find sim­ple, un­der­stated pieces at lo­cal, fam­ily-owned cloth­ing brand Olive. Com­bin­ing her­itage with moder­nity, each de­sign is eth­i­cally con­sid­ered, its range in­clud­ing pretty ac­ces­sories and jew­ellery. Olive­cloth­ing.com. The Guild at 51 show­cases the work of mem­bers of the Glouces­ter­shire Guild of Crafts­men. Find ce­ram­ics, tex­tiles, leather­work and bas­ketry to buy, as well as books and cards from the re­gion’s most tal­ented de­signer-mak­ers. Guild­crafts.org.uk/the-guild-at-51-chel­tenham. And on the Bath Road, Luca and Pene­lope de­sign and print their own cot­ton to cre­ate and sell ev­ery­thing from cush­ions to peg bags at the de­light­ful Rosa Blue. 01242 521234; ros­ablue.com.

Above, from

left: The Nep­tune foun­tain on the Prom­e­nade is over­looked by the town’s grand mu­nic­i­pal build­ings; com­poser Gus­tav Holst was born in Chel­tenham – his birth­place is open to the pub­lic as a mu­seum; the dra­matic Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture of Princess Hall at Chel­tenham Ladies’ Col­lege

Clock­wise

from left: The Pittville Pump Rooms ra­di­ate Re­gency re­fine­ment; book a stay at Cross­ways B&B; en­joy fine French food at Petit Coco; take in the fa­mous at­mos­phere at the Gold Cup; stone cary­atids over­look the streets of Mont­pel­lier; the grand en­trance to the Pittville es­tate; the sit­ting room at The Bradley, one of the last com­plete his­tor­i­cal houses in Chel­tenham From above: Find a roll-top bath for two, among other chic fur­nish­ings at No.38 The Park; dine on the catch of the day in the airy neigh­bour­hood set­ting of Purslane; the stun­ning frontage of the Grade Ii-listed Ev­ery­man Theatre

Clock­wise from top: Rechercher on Mont­pel­lier of­fers charm­ing French home­ware; visit Ate­lier 19 for intricate ac­ces­sories; the fa­mil­iar striped canopy of Kitch­ener; find hand­made crafts at The Guild at 51

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