Steve Roth and Sean Callery are qualified Blue Badge tourist guides with a special interest in Cheltenham. They offer walking and online tours in the local area, visitors can book these tours here -  Tours by Around Cheltenham.

We asked them to get involved with our latest campaign #HappyPlaceCheltenham by sharing their ten ‘happy places’ in the town...

Cheltenham tour guides reveal their ten 'happy places' in Cheltenham

Cheltenham is one big happy place for us as Around Cheltenham tourist guides because we love telling its stories from the actual streets and buildings where they happened. Here are ten of our highlights...

The High Street

This is always so vibrant, and 200 years ago, before the Promenade stole its crown, this was ‘the place to be seen’ in Cheltenham. Jane Austen, Lord Byron and other famous visitors stayed in the boarding houses and hotels that lined the street, and watched the dandies parade, street sellers calling out to customers and the odd cudgel match. We love showing this part of Cheltenham in our tour ‘Dances, Duels and Dalliances’.

John Higg’s grave at St Mary’s graveyard

The inscription reads: 

HERE LIES JOHN HIGGS

A FAMOUS MAN FOR KILLING PIGS

FOR KILLING PIGS WAS HIS DELIGHT

BOTH MORNING, AFTERNOON AND NIGHT….

It’s a reminder that a huge service industry developed in Cheltenham to feed, clothe and shelter the spa visitors. And it’s funny, too - there has always been a delightful streak of irreverence in the town.

The Jenner House

Doctor Edward Jenner did much of his pioneering vaccination work from this house in St George’s Place where he was sometimes swamped by poor local people desperate for his life-saving injection. It’s on our ‘Health and Wealth’ tour. Opposite is the very friendly O'Hara's coffee house: Cheltenham has fantastic coffee shops - important for us when tramping the streets researching tours! 

Bayshill

Home of the original Spa, this is where Cheltenham’s fame and fortune began with a flock of thirsty pigeons (look around and you’ll see their image everywhere). Now it’s a genteel suburb of beautiful Regency architecture, home to the famous Ladies College and its formidable head Dorothea Beale, one of the stars of our tour showing ‘How Cheltenham Changed the World’. It's hard to believe that the town’s poorest neighbourhood was just a stone’s throw away.

The Rotunda

An iconic Cheltenham building that began life as a spa and today houses one of Cheltenham's many excellent restaurants. We particularly like it on our ‘Light Up Cheltenham’ tour when its shapes and contrasts are highlighted by spotlights.

Montpellier Gardens

This is heaven for a tour guide: no traffic noise, plenty of space and masses of stories to tell, from daredevil aeronautics  - health and safety be damned - to sporting pioneers. Sometimes dancing couples sway near the bandstand close by the gallery selling interesting local art. And there’s a toilet block! Bliss! This stop is always a highlight on the ‘Regency Cheltenham’ tour that we run alongside fellow qualified guides. 

Cheltenham tour guides reveal their ten 'happy places' in Cheltenham

The Imperial Fountain

Blink and you miss it - but it has many stories. Nestled into an ‘old but new’ (ask us why!)  Regency terrace, this Italian fountain was stolen by French troops who were then ambushed by British forces. Amazingly for a hefty marble statue, it had many homes in Cheltenham before settling in an alcove by Imperial Gardens. 

Cheltenham College

An oasis of green where the sound of ball on bat has inspired Gloucestershire cricketers for over a century. From here boys went all over the world, forever linking Cheltenham with tales of adventure and Derring Do, as you can hear on our ‘How Chelteham Changed the World’ tour. It also has a most impressive school chapel and cricket pavillon.

The Holst statue

A monument to one of Cheltenham’s finest sons stands proudly in Imperial Gardens. This is just such a calm beautiful oasis in the busy middle of town where you can enjoy fantastic flower displays against a backdrop of elegant buildings. Here our customers have a feast for the eyes as well as for the ears! By the way, Holst held his baton in the ‘wrong’ hand. We can tell you why.

Pittville Park

This lovely space was created as part of an attempt to build a spa-based rival to Cheltenham, right on its doorstep - we tell the whole story on our ‘Pumps, Plans and Pitfalls’ tour. Every time we walk past it, the play area bounces to the sounds and enjoyment of the local kids while their parents have a natter and a coffee by the cafe. It’s a reminder of how lively and family-friendly Cheltenham is today.

Book now via the Visit Cheltenham website for Around Cheltenham walks and online tours!

For tours further afield in the Cotswolds, see: 

Englanduncovered (Steve Roth’s website)

Offbeatcotswolds (Sean Callery’s website)

We would love to know where your happy place in Cheltenham is!  Share your #HappyPlaceCheltenham with us on social media to be in with a chance of winning £1,000+ worth of fabulous prizes.

Related

Around Cheltenham Walks and Tours
Guided Tours
Holst

Around Cheltenham offers fascinating and fun walking tours and online presentations about Cheltenham and its surrounding area.

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