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The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham

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The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham
Author: Pub Walker, Published: 31 Jan 2018 Walk Rating:star1 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide star1 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide star1 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide star1 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide star0 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide
Gloucestershire, Cheltenham
Walk Type: Town or city
The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular pub walk from The Old Courthouse, around the Regency spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. The Old Courthouse sits in the heart of the town and provides the ideal place to enjoy refreshments before or after your walk. The walking route tours the town, taking in some of the key attractions and open spaces including beautiful churches, important historic buildings, several artworks and the stunning ornamental Pittville Park, with its magnificent Pump Room and lakes.

The walk is relatively flat, with only a few gentle gradients. The route follows a mixture of pedestrian thoroughfares, roadside pavements and surfaced parkland paths, making it ideal for walking in any weather. There are no stiles, kissing gates, flights of steps or livestock on route, but you will need to negotiate a few simple parkland gates and footbridges. With this in mind, the route would be suitable for pushchairs or disability buggies. Dogs are welcome throughout the route, including in the park which is a popular dog-walking spot. There are a few road crossings that need care, although many of these have pelican crossings. Allow 1.5 hours.

Cheltenham is located in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds and adjacent to the M5. The walk starts and finishes from The Old Courthouse pub in the town centre, on County Court Road. If you are coming by public transport, the bus station sits alongside the Royal Crescent (this is directly on the walking route and just a 0.2 mile walk from the pub), whilst the train station is a one mile walk from the pub. If you are arriving by car, there are several parking options close to the pub, including the Portland Street car park which is opposite Trinity Church and directly on the walking route. Approximate post codes GL50 1HB (for pub) and GL52 2NX (for car park).

Walk Sections

Start to Trinity Church
Start to Trinity Church

Start point: 51.9 lat, -2.0748 long
End point: 51.9033 lat, -2.0717 long

We start our walk directly outside The Old Courthouse pub which, you won’t be surprised to hear, is housed in the former Court House buildings dating from 1871. The Court at Cheltenham was operational until the beginning of the 21st Century when it was closed as part of the rationalisation of the Government’s estate.

Standing with your back to the pub’s front entrance, turn left to join the pedestrianised stretch of street which soon reaches a T-junction with the High Street. Turn left and then take the first right turn into Pittville Street. At the first crossroads, go straight ahead into Portland Street and, at the second crossroads (this one with traffic lights), use the pedestrian crossing to continue ahead along Portland Street. About halfway along this street, you will come to Trinity Church on your right (with the entrance for Portland Street car park on your left).

Trinity Church to Pittville Park
Trinity Church to Pittville Park

Start point: 51.9033 lat, -2.0717 long
End point: 51.9041 lat, -2.07 long

Trinity Church came into being in 1824 as an overflow for the church in the town centre, which we will visit later. Now with around 1000 members, one article has cited it as being the eleventh largest church in Britain.

Continue ahead along Portland Street to reach the crossroads with traffic lights. Turn right here into Clarence Road and, just a short distance along, you will see Number 4 Clarence Road on your right which is the birthplace of the composer Gustav Holst. The Holst Birthplace Museum was opened in 1975 and remains one of only two composer birthplace museums in England. Holst was born here in 1874 and educated at Cheltenham Grammar School. If you take time to tour the museum, you will see the piano Gustav Holst used to compose The Planets, his most famous composition.

At this point, wait for a suitable gap in the traffic and swap to the left-hand pavement of Clarence Road. Continue for just a few more paces along the road and you will reach the beautiful, ornate, green metal gates for Pittville Park on your left.

Pittville Park to Pittville Pump Room
Pittville Park to Pittville Pump Room

Start point: 51.9041 lat, -2.07 long
End point: 51.9119 lat, -2.0672 long

Turn left through the gates and walk straight ahead along the walkway of the access road, known as Pittville Lawn. At the first road junction, cross over with care and go straight ahead along the continuation of Pittville Lawn. A few paces along, keep left at the first path fork, to follow the tarmac walkway ahead. You will have a beautiful row of terraced houses across to your right and the first stretch of open parkland on your left.

To understand the background to this park, we first need to delve a little into the town’s history. This formerly unassuming settlement was transformed following events in the early 1700s. The story goes that in 1716, a few townsfolk noticed that a particular flock of pigeons that regularly pecked near a local spring were thriving. It wasn't long before they decided to taste the benefits of the mineral spring water for themselves. Eventually, the owner of the land on which the spring stood took the entrepreneurial measure of installing a pump and charging people to take the waters. The Spa Town became popular with health tourists and visitors included Samuel Johnson, the Duke of Wellington, Jane Austen and King George III. Rival spas to the original were also established, including one here at Pittville Park. Opened in 1825, Pittville Park is the largest ornamental park in Cheltenham and features the magnificent Pump Room, ornamental and fishing lakes, aviaries plus play and leisure facilities (all of which we will see shortly).

Just before this parkland path reaches a junction with the next road, Central Cross Drive, it swings left to pass a scout building on your left. Turn right at this point, passing a red phone box, crossing over Central Cross Drive with care and walking straight ahead into the main section of Pittville Park (passing the cafe on your right). At the end of this stretch of parkland, you will come to a crossroads with a wider tarmac path (with more park gates visible to your right). Walk ahead to reach the green railings ahead, then fork right to follow the path with the railings immediately on your left.

Beyond these railings you will see the first of the park’s lakes. Follow the path winding ahead alongside the lake, to reach a beautiful stone arched bridge. Turn left across the lake bridge and then stay with the main, wide tarmac thoroughfare. This bends left and then right, now leading you away from the lake and heading gently uphill towards the grand, honey-coloured stone building. At the top of the slope, emerge into a small parking area and turn immediately left to pass in front of this grand building, Pittville Pump Room.

Pittville Pump Room to Old Boat House
Pittville Pump Room to Old Boat House

Start point: 51.9119 lat, -2.0672 long
End point: 51.9102 lat, -2.0702 long

The jewel of Cheltenham’s Regency architecture, the Pump Room is the grandest survivor of the town’s many spa buildings. It was completed in 1830 and, when not in use, you can wander into the main auditorium to see its fine interior and sample the fountain’s historically medicinal spa waters for free. It is the perfect place to step back in time: imagine the swirling dancers in the ballroom, hear the music playing in the bandstand and remember, when you taste the waters, that this was the reason for it all - an unpleasant tasting liquid that supposedly had the power to cure all ills!

When you have finished here, keep ahead to enter another small parking area (with a small bandstand on your left). Turn left here, heading downhill to pass the fenced area of playgrounds and bird aviaries on your right (which you can visit should you wish). Continue ahead on the wide tarmac thoroughfare, keeping the play areas on your right. Beyond these, you will pass the public toilets before crossing an arched stone bridge back over the lake.

Keep ahead for only 40 paces more and then take a sharp right turn to follow a tarmac path downhill and through a road underpass (this is quite low so mind your head!). You will emerge into the western half of the park, almost immediately coming to a fork with a large signpost. Take the right-hand branch, signed to the Boat House, which leads you over a small stream bridge and then swings left to pass the old boat house on your left.

Old Boat House to Clarence Square
Old Boat House to Clarence Square

Start point: 51.9102 lat, -2.0702 long
End point: 51.9055 lat, -2.0723 long

Continue along the tarmac parkland path, with the lake on your left, until you reach the first lake bridge. Turn left to cross this and turn left again at the far side, heading back along the southern edge of the lake. As you draw level with the boat house on the far bank, turn right to follow a blue sign which marks a cycle path towards the town centre.

Pass through the gate to exit the park and then keep directly ahead along the residential road called West Drive, passing the primary school on your right. Continue ahead along West Drive, ignoring any side roads, and you will pass Wellington Square on your right, a simple square of parkland surrounded by holly hedges.

Beyond this square, you will come to a crossroads. Cross over the road to continue straight ahead and soon you will come to a second square of parkland, Clarence Square. Go through the parkland gate to enter Clarence Square and follow the tarmac path which leads you diagonally across the park. Cheltenham is famous for its Regency architecture and is said to be the most complete Regency town in England. Clarence Square is one of the town’s typical Regency squares with a leafy, quiet sanctuary at its centre. The Duke of Wellington once lived nearby, and his former home is now a hotel.

Clarence Square to St Mary's Church
Clarence Square to St Mary's Church

Start point: 51.9055 lat, -2.0723 long
End point: 51.9017 lat, -2.0762 long

At the far side, exit the park and maintain your direction, crossing over the road ahead and then bearing left into Monson Avenue. At the end of this avenue, you will come to a T-junction with a large leisure complex ahead. Use the pedestrian crossing to cross the road directly ahead and then turn left along the far pavement. Take the first right turn, into a small side road which runs alongside the leisure complex (which is now on your right).

Ignore the road branch into the underground car park, instead stay with the left-hand branch, a quiet passageway which bends left to reach a crossroads. Turn right and follow the short shopping street to reach a junction with the High Street. If you look at about 1 o’clock at this junction you will see a narrow passageway. Take this passageway and you will quickly emerge into the churchyard of St Mary’s Church. Follow the tarmac path, passing the church on your left.

St Mary’s, also known as Cheltenham Minster, is the only surviving medieval building in Cheltenham. It has been in continuous use for 850 years, although between 1859 and 1877 it was closed intermittently for repairs. In the Domesday Book it was recorded as belonging to William the Conqueror’s chancellor, Regenbald.

St Mary's Church to Neptune's Fountain
St Mary's Church to Neptune's Fountain

Start point: 51.9017 lat, -2.0762 long
End point: 51.8983 lat, -2.0785 long

At the far side of the churchyard, keep ahead along the short, paved street, Well Walk, to emerge to a junction with a road. Cross over with care (there is a pedestrian crossing across to your left should you need it) and go straight ahead into Crescent Place. At the end of Crescent Place, bear right to follow the pavement that runs directly in front of the long arc of terraced white houses, known as the Royal Crescent (you will notice the bus station across to your left at this point).

The Royal Crescent is a terrace of 18 houses, built around 1806-10. They were built as fashionable lodgings for visitors to the Spa. The Duke of Gloucester lived at Number 18 when he was visited by Princess Victoria in 1830. Number 11 was the home of Dr Henry Charles Boisragan, Physician Extraordinary to the King. It is the earliest important Georgian terrace to have been built in Cheltenham.

At the end of the Royal Crescent, turn right, cross over the side road (Royal Well Place) and you will come to the Royal Well car park ahead. Pass to the left of this to reach the road junction with traffic lights. Turn left here (using the two pedestrian crossings) and continue ahead on the pavement to reach the next road junction. Turn left here and, immediately on your left you will see Neptune’s Fountain.

The Neptune Fountain was built in 1893 and designed by Joseph Hall. The fountain is probably fashioned on the Trevi Fountain in Rome and was carved by Boulton and Sons, a local company. Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, is shown with sea horses and tritons. The 1970s British sitcom Butterflies was set in Cheltenham. Many of the town’s properties and attractions were used as filming locations, including Neptune’s Fountain.

Neptune's Fountain to End
Neptune's Fountain to End

Start point: 51.8983 lat, -2.0785 long
End point: 51.9001 lat, -2.0752 long

When you have finished admiring the fountain, continue ahead along the shopping street known as the Promenade. Across to your right are the shops, whilst on the left are the lawns and flower beds. Cheltenham's famous Promenade dates back to 1818 when the avenue of elms and horse chestnut trees were first planted. Its colourful Long Gardens are laid out with an ever-changing display of ornamental bedding plants.

There are several statues and sculptures along the Promenade. First is a statue that commemorates Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham and lost on Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-12. Beyond this, you will pass Cheltenham's war memorial.

As you reach a road ahead, cross over with care to follow the pedestrianised stretch of the Promenade. After just 50 metres, you will pass another sculpture, The Hare and the Minotaur. This was initially part of a temporary exhibition of the local artist Sophie Ryder in 1995. The overwhelming public response to the exhibition led to this sculpture being kept as a permanent installation.

At the end of the pedestrianised stretch, continue ahead on the right-hand pavement for just 20 paces and then turn right into the small courtyard called County Court Road. Bear right to follow this small road, which swings left and leads you directly to The Old Courthouse on your left for some well-earned hospitality.

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1 Comments for: "The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham"

Could do with adding a bit more... the town hall & up to Montpelier and back down! More history too!

By janeweare on 14 Jun 2018

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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9757_0pubwalker1517426440 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide Image by: Pub Walker
Uploaded: 31 Jan 2018
The Boathouse.
9757_1pubwalker1517426440 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide Image by: Pub Walker
Uploaded: 31 Jan 2018
Neptune's Fountain
9757_2pubwalker1517426440 The Old Courthouse and Regency Cheltenham Walking Guide Image by: Pub Walker
Uploaded: 31 Jan 2018
Hare & Minotaur

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