Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas

The image of Father Christmas, or Santa, is one that people always associate with Christmas. This one was sitting on top of a post in Regent Arcade. I'll be back on January 1st for Theme Day. Next year I should have new and improved photos from the new camera that I'm hoping Santa will bring! Only one more sleep till Christmas!

I hope that Santa brings you everything you wished for and that you have a peaceful Christmas with loved ones close by. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Silver Band

The Salvation Army Silver Band playing in Cheltenhams High Street, raising money for their cause and entertaining the shoppers. They sounded very good, as I took this photo they were playing 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', very festive. Only two more sleeps till Christmas!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Christmas Flowers

I like having flowers in the house at Christmas, to me its as important as the tree. This is the arrangement on my fire place, made up of white lillies, orchids, eucalyptus, spruce and some silver baubles. I've resisted posting lots of Christmas themed photos but I've got a couple lined up for the next few days. Only three more sleeps till Christmas!

Friday, 21 December 2007

A Load Of Old Cobblers

I have several books with old photos of Cheltenham and all of them have sepia coloured pictures of this building, on the corner of Clarence Street and the Lower High Street. The building is now a cobblers but for nearly a hundred years was a Tobacconists. Charles Dickens' Tobacconists (not sure if the owner was named Charles Dickens or it was named after the author, I'm guessing the first) was founded in 1889 and you can still see the glass advertising panels amongst the ornamental ironwork canopy. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can clearly see the word 'Cigars'. The canopy was made by Charles Hanncock who ran his own ironworks in Bennington Street, down the road, just off the Lower High Street. This corner plot, surrounded by other buildings on three sides, has seen much change over the years. The building on the left hand side was the Army Recruitment Office during the First World War, and the white building on the right was used as the Town Offices from 1840 - 1915 (it is now Co-op Travel). This was home to the Town Clock which was removed after a fire on 29th December 1969. The cobblers still does a good trade but I don't know why shoe repair and key cutting always go together!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Birds Of A Feather...

...and a scorpion! While finishing off my Christmas shopping I came across this stall in the middle of Regent Arcade selling metal wildlife. The sculpted animals and birds are made from scrap metal and produce in Africa by local crafts people. The stall was surrounded by a crowd of shoppers barging each other out of the way to get a better look (hence the blurred photo!). Any creature you could imagine was represented in scrap, even an eight foot tall giraffe!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Theme And Variations

I'm not sure how many Cheltonians have ever looked up and seen this piece of art, or more so that it was created by renowned British artist Barbara Hepworth (1903-75). The sculpture, Theme And Variations, is situated on the side of the former HQ of the Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society in Clarence Street. Built in the mid-1970's the curved building, which hides St Marys church behind, is now rented out as office space and has some shops at street level. The bronze sculpture was acquired by the Borough Council as part of the towns public art program. Hepworth is seen as one of the last centuries most influential abstract artists and in her time won many awards and accolades. In 1939 Hepworth moved to St Ives in Cornwall where she concentrated her efforts on larger pieces moving away from sculpting in wood and stone to her more recognisable medium, bronze. In the 1950's her work, along with that of her friend and fellow artist Henry Moore, became internationally recognised. Hepworth died tragically in a fire at her studio in St Ives. The studio is now a Museum celebrating her work.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Martin & Co

Martin & Co jewellers is the oldest jewellers in Cheltenham, established in 1806. Situated on the Colonnade, at the North end of the Promenade, it proudly calls itself "the County Jewellers" and this is proved by the fact it provides the Gold Cup for the Cheltenham horse race in March. They create and sell many pieces of fine jewellery as well as silverware and watches. The Colonnade was first built in 1791 and was intended to be for shops selling fine goods. The original plans for a grand row of shops of some length didn't materialise and so a small version was finished. In 1935 the original Colonnade was demolished to make way for a fountain, smaller shops and a traffic roundabout. This is how the Colonnade looks these days with Martin & Co being one of the shops on what has become a fancy traffic island.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Drama On High

This isn't the most glamorous photo ever, I just really like the look of the sky. It's taken from the car park on top of Regent Arcade. On the left side you can see Eagle Tower and, in the background, Leckhampton Hill. There isn't really anymore to say. Hope you like it too.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

This seat is something of a mystery to me. It's either the Millennium Seat or the Golden Jubilee Seat. Whichever one it is, its situated in Montpellier Gardens. Actually, the more I look at it the more I'm convinced its the Golden Jubilee one! The Golden Jubilee in question is that of the Queens 50 years on the throne (1952 - 2002). The seat has five sides, each representing a decade of her service to the country. The sloped sides have musical notes weaving their way around and the metal structure in the middle has a dove on a domed top. I'm not sure what that represents, I've looked around online but can't find anything about it. The day I took this photo the winter sun was really highlighting the bird and dome, it was quite dazzling.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Scrooges Hospital

Cheltenham General Hospital has been in the news locally of late due to the powers that be removing Christmas trees. As part of the action plan to reduce hospital infections, such as MRSA, Christmas trees have been taken out of clinical areas like Oncology. To answer the many cries of "scrooge!" the Gloucestershire Health Trust have pointed out that all wards still have their trees. As one patient commented in the local paper, Gloucestershire Echo, surely there are more germs on shoes trooping in and out of the hospital than on a few Christmas trees. The photo doesn't do justice to the size of the General, although its not the biggest hospital in the world. This old part, on Sandford Road, was built in 1849 and inside is quite claustrophobic. Newer areas are light and airy and make for a relatively modern hospital. The NHS Trust employs hundreds of people and treats tens of thousands a year. Whenever I've been under the care of the hospital I've always been impressed by the dedication of the staff, both medical and civilian.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Roll Out The Turkey

Turkey roll anyone? Or pork or sausage. In the middle of the High Street in town is a seasonal take-away vendor selling all sorts of hot food and drink. In the past this chap has had difficulty in obtaining his license from the Borough Council to sell food in the street. Some Council members think that this sort of thing isn't in-keeping with Cheltenhams image. I don't see the problem myself especially as the stall is only there for a couple of months. I haven't tried a turkey roll yet, when I took this photo I had just had lunch.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Assembly At The Bank

On the South side of Cheltenhams High Street is the imposing Lloyds Bank building. Built in 1900, to the designs of Waller and Son, the bank sits on the former site of the Assembly Rooms which, in one form or another, had been there since 1734. Over the nearly 200 years that the Assembly Rooms sat on the High Street the building had three or four different incarnations, the most expensive being the 1815 design costing £60,000. The Assembly Rooms were used for meetings, balls and entertainment and after the building was demolished these kind of events moved to the Town Hall. Inside the bank is a large banking hall with a high double story celling built in a neo-Baroque style. The outside of the building is impressive, with columns, stone balustrades and urns, and a small tower. A friend of mine used to be a junior clerk at the bank and one of his jobs was to hang out the Lloyds bank flag from the tower every day. When he left, the flag would often be missing or tangled around the pole (much to his annoyance!), then one day it vanished completely and hasn't been seen since.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Night On The Ginger Beer

In Cheltenham we don't have many large stores with extravagant Christmas window displays like other towns and cities. Ours just tend to be mannequins in party gear with hanging baubles and fairy lights in the background. But this window is great! A drunk gingerbread man in his Y fronts, complete with traffic cone, about to get a bashing from his gingerbread wife with a rolling pin! The store didn't want to lose sight of what its trying to sell, hence the mannequin in party gear to the side of the impending gingerbread earful!
Click on the photo for a larger version and check out all the detail.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Rare Royal

At the end of Central Walk in Montpellier Gardens is this statue of King William IV. The statue was erected in 1833 by public subscription to commemorate the Coronation of the King in 1830, although he wasn't King for long. In 1837 William died and leaving no surviving royal children (he had 10 with his mistress!) his niece Victoria became Queen. The statue started out in Imperial Gardens, down the road, but was moved to its present location in 1920. The statue shows William in his garter robes which is apparently quite rare. Montpellier Gardens have under gone a major face lift lasting about 18 months and reopening this summer and, as you can probably tell, the statue has been given a scrub and polish.

Saturday, 8 December 2007


Went to visit some friends on there small holding (mini farm!) near Ross, in Herefordshire. They bought a near derelict house and unused land about 8 years ago and have been slowly renovating it. The land is now home to cows, sheep, chickens, geese and ducks. As a side line to their day jobs they also breed and sell guinea pigs. Apart from the farmhouse kitchen the house is still in a state of disrepair. They are both hoarders so all the other rooms are full of bits of wood and salvaged building material that, apparently, will one day be useful. The area they live in is stunning, countryside views all round, and although areas around Cheltenham are rural, this is truly the country life.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Town Hall

I've learnt something new today. While doing a spot of research into the history of Cheltenhams Town Hall I discovered that the Town Hall was built as an addition to the Winter Garden and not the other way round. This may not be an earth shattering discovery but as I am a proud Cheltonian I'm disappointed with my own lack of knowledge. Anyway...the Town Hall sits in Imperial Square, on the north side of Imperial Garden. On this site there used to be a Winter Garden (a large glass and steel building used for concerts, demolished in 1940 and considered a white elephant to the Council) and in 1900 it was decided that Cheltenham needed a larger function building after the demolition of the Assembly Rooms. In 1902 construction work started on Gloucester architect Frederick William Waller's design of an impressive Baroque style building. Behind the foundation stone, still visible today, a bottle was placed containing coins and the days newspapers, as was tradition then. The complete build took a year and two months and cost £45,000. The main feature of the Town Hall is the main hall, measuring 92 feet by 52 feet and 53 feet high, with Corinthian columns, balconies and sprung floor. In 1906 the Cheltenham Spa was opened inside the building and has an octagonal counter and large urns. You can still take the Spa water there today but nowadays you have to serve yourself! Having tasted the water once (once was enough) I can tell you its best described as warm and salty! The Town hall can accommodate 1000 people and now holds banquets, concerts, live shows, balls and many other events. I've been to several different things at the Town Hall, the best being a fantastic New Years Eve party with indoor fireworks and 20 foot high flames shooting into the air! That was a good night.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Tree With A Difference

Slap bang in the middle of Regent Arcade is this 30 foot tall Christmas Tree, the centre piece of the shopping malls festive decorations. It looks like most trees at this time of year, covered in red and gold bows and baubles and hundreds of twinkling lights, but this tree has one feature that I'm sure other trees don't have - a walk way right through the middle! The arch is around 7 foot high and allows shoppers to pass through and experience the inside of a Christmas tree, if thats something that interests you! Now thats what I call a Christmas Tree!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Gone Fishing

These little cherubs taking a ride on the backs of fish caught my eye as I walked through Sandford Park. They can be found on Unwins Fountain. The fountain is quite impressive and is the first thing you come across as you enter the park through the east entrance, off of College Road. I'm planning to take another photo of the whole of the fountain in summer, when it is surrounded by colourful flowers and looks at its best. In past posts I've written about the park, so won't go over old ground, but still can't seem to find out much about this old fountain. Anymore information would be appreciated.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Herr Today Gone Tomorrow

This is Cheltenhams German Market. Well it was. When I was in town last week the market was in full swing but I didn't have my camera. Yesterday I was off to do some Christmas shopping and remembered the camera but the Germans weren't hanging around! So here is a photo of the remains. As I found out the market finished on Sunday and by Monday a team of workmen had moved in and were clearing up the Promenade. The German Market has been running for the last few years and ties in with the switch on of the towns Christmas lights. This year there were over 50 stalls, with many gift ideas, selling all sorts of things from wooden ties to hand made decorations. And if you were in need of some rest and refreshment, German style, there were Gluhwein mulled wine and Bratwurst sausages. Next year I'll make sure I get a photo of the market in action!
Excuse the pun in the title, I couldn't resist. You can make your own mind up about my sense of humour!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Designer Mosaic

This impressive mosaic tile covered shop front belongs to ladies designer clothes shop Beatrice Von Tresckow Designs. The shop, situated on the corner of Bath Road and Sandford Street, used to be a pub (though I can't find anything about it as yet) and changed its frontage dramatically when Beatrice moved in. Cheltenham Borough Council are notorious for being very restrained in allowing people to change the exterior of buildings but they passed this application. The many shades of blue and gold tiles stretch all the way across the double fronted shop, under the first floor windows, and on the corner shown go from the ground to the roof. The elaborate design and colours reflect the clothes and accessories within. Beatrice Von Tresckow takes influence for her designs from Asia, Africa and the Far East and uses beads, jewels and embroidery to great effect. The designer look does come with a designer price tag but, as they say, you get what you pay for!

The building in the background on the right hand side of the photo is Eagle Tower, Cheltenhams tallest building - all 12 storeys!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Silver Baubles

This is my first Christmas themed posting, I thought I would wait until December started. I hope to show more seasonal photos in the run up to the big day as well as Cheltenham ones too. I took this photo at the end of October while out hunting for blue things for Novembers theme day. The display was in the window of the home furnishing shop Sia. The store has an array of wonderful things to make home look more splendid and I often pop in to see what's new. Sia always has a fantastic window display, normally based on room settings. This one had black furniture with shiny silver decorations and sparkly twigs in huge vases. The display has changed several times since I took this photo and I'll take another shot when I next visit. So, Decembers here and it's time to dust off your baubles!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Theme Day - Bridges

This bridge is a relatively new feature in Cheltenham. The Honeybourne Bridge forms part of the former Honeybourne Line that once ran out of Cheltenham Train Station. The former train line came into St James' Station, now Waitrose supermarket, which was unused since the 1960's. For many decades the route of the former track has been a cycle path linking Cheltenham Spa Station to the Leisure Centre. When the Borough Council passed plans for the redevelopement of the St James' site the bridge was required due to new roads crossing through the cycle path. This new bridge now carries cyclists and pedestrians saftely along the route of the once great train system.
Check out these other Daily Photo Blogs around the world that have joined in with this Theme Day -
Boston (MA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Inverness (IL), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Stockholm, Sweden - Setúbal, Portugal - Brussels, Belgium - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Hyde, UK - Manila, Philippines - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - London, England - Austin (TX), USA - Toulouse, France - Weston (FL), USA - Sesimbra, Portugal - Selma (AL), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - North Bay (ON), Canada - Arradon, France - Paderborn, Germany - Durban, South Africa - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Portland (OR), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wichita (Ks), USA - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Grenoble, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Arlington (VA), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Cheltenham, UK - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Saratoga Spgs. (NY), USA - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Nashville (TN), USA - Toruń, Poland - New Orleans (LA), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia - Moscow, Russia - Trujillo, Peru - Château-Gontier, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Joplin (MO), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Brookville (OH), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Baziège, France - Auckland, New Zealand - Wellington, New Zealand - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Subang Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Detroit (MI), USA - Riga, Latvia - Nelson, New Zealand - Budapest, Hungary - Cape Town, South Africa - Sydney, Australia - Dunedin (FL), USA - Sofia, Bulgaria - Radonvilliers, France - Turin, Italy - Montpellier, France - Kansas City (MO), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Wailea (HI), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Terrell (TX), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Budapest, Hungary - Montréal (QC), Canada - Sharon (CT), USA - Le Guilvinec, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - London, UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Orlando (FL), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Paris, France - Mainz, Germany - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Darmstadt, Germany - Naples (FL), USA - Torino, Italy - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - The Hague, Netherlands - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Anderson (SC), USA

Friday, 30 November 2007

Brewing Barley

At the entrance to The Brewery complex is this striking piece of art, entitled Barley, by Sophie Marsham. The brushed steel sculpture stretches and twists up to one of the cut outs in the roof of the development, as if reaching for the light. The Brewery is built on the site of the form Whitbread (yes, you've guessed it) brewery. The brewery was founded in 1760 and was then known as Gardeners Brewery. In 1888 it was registered as The Original Cheltenham Brewery and in 1963 became Whitbread Flowers Brewery. Brewing of beer stopped on the site in 1998. The Whitbread Brewery was tied in with over 1300 public houses and many pubs in and around Cheltenham still have the Whitbreads glazed pottery tile displayed by their front doors. Whitbread no longer exists as a company, selling to Interbrew in 2000/01. Plans for the empty site divided Cheltonians, but after lying derelict and in serious disrepair, a mixed use leisure and retail plan was decided upon. To the North and West sides of the new construction the old Malthouse walls have been kept and create a facade to what lies behind. The Brewery is now home to a cinema, gym, restaurants and a few shops (including Habitat, as previously posted). As the site is off the beaten track retail units aren't being snapped up but it is filling up slowly. In commemoration, of what once was, I think they should open a Whitbread pub!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Statler and Waldorf

Cheltenhams very own grumpy old men live on the side of St Mary's Church in the heart of town. When I first saw them they reminded me straight away of Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets. I can't find anything on whom these carvings might be based, so I'll tell you about the puppet versions instead! As most people may know, Statler and Waldorf are named after two New York hotels - Statler Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In The Muppets Waldorf's wife was named Astoria and, when she made an appearance, looked just like Statler dressed as a woman (minus the moustache!). The feisty duo are renowned for their cutting comments and constant moaning about the show, but turn up every week to watch! The characters were originally performed by Richard Hunt and Jim Henson, until their deaths, and have appeared in nearly ever episode. When The Muppet Show moved from the theatre to a T.V studio Statler and Waldorf watched from a retirement home!

For more on St Mary's Church click on 'st marys' in the labels below. Still not sure how to create a link within the blog!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Fishy O'clock

The Wishing Fish Clock in the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham continues to fascinate children young and old. The clock, designed by Gloucestershire artist Kit Williams, is over 45 feet long and weighs 3 tons and is said to be the worlds largest mechanical clock. It is suspended over the main walk way through the Arcade and always has a crowd underneath awaiting the bubbles. The large white duck on the very top lays golden eggs, which are carried down in red egg cups, and dropped into the spinning wheel, that rotates round the top of the clock face. The eggs are then deposited into the 6 foot square body of the clock and cause mice to poke out of the four corners of the clock. The clock face only has one hand, with the moon on the end, showing the minutes past the hour. The hour hand is represented by the sun moving round the face. When the clock strikes on the hour, and half past, it plays "I'm forever blowing bubbles" and the fish blows out all those eagerly awaited bubbles. Catch a bubble and make your wish!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Royal Rooms

The Queens Hotel, positioned at the top end of the Promenade, is something of a local landmark. It is a hotel full of grandeur and opulence and its reception and lobby are quite impressive (by Cheltenham standards at least!). The hotel was built in 1837, at a cost of £47,000, and opened the following year. The hotel, to be originally named The Royal Victoria Hotel, sits on the site of the Imperial Spa. The spa was bought in 1830 by Robert and Charles Gearrad who designed and built the hotel. Over the years the hotel has played host to many famous visitors to Cheltenham including Edward VII, Margaret Thatcher and Bob Hope. During the Second World War the hotel was home to the American Services Club. More recently french chef Raymond Blanc has opened a brasserie in the hotel which I can recommended for an excellent meal.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


I was originally going to post this photo of Cheltenhams War Memorial two weeks ago to commemorate Remembrance Sunday but due to the sudden and tragic death of my step-father I haven't been posting for a while. I would like to dedicate this post in remembrance of him. Mark, aged 53, was killed in a road traffic accident in the early hours of Saturday 10th November and leaves behind a shocked and devastated family. He was a man who lived life to the full and loved sport, running, music and real ale amongst many other things. His passing is an immense loss to family and his many friends, but all of the many happy memories of Mark are helping us all through this difficult time. At present I'm spending alot of time at my mums house so future posts will be intermittent.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Out Of Action

Due to the sudden death of a family member I won't be posting for a while, but I will be back.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Market Day

The Promenade plays host to the award winning Cheltenham Farmers Market on the second and last Friday of each month. It is open from 9am until 3pm and with around 30 stalls, selling everything from the usual fruit & veg to sausages and chocolate desserts, it's a big hit with Cheltonians. The market is an excellent opportunity to buy quality food and support local farmers and food producers. When visiting the stalls you can ask questions and try before you buy, something you can't do at the supermarket (they don't tend to like it when you open a packet and start nibbling!). I was a little disappointed when I visited yesterday as my favourite local vineyard wasn't there. I had to make up for it by buying lots of naughty sweet treats instead. The chocolate mousse was delicious!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Friendship Circle

This cast iron rhomboid forms part of a public art feature in Sandford Park. The Friendship Circle was one of the first Council funded art installations in Cheltenham, installed in 1993, by South African born artist Neville Gabie to represent the twinning of the town with other towns around the world like Anncey, France and Cheltenham, America. The work contains a flat plan, made of iron laid in the concrete, of one of the rhomboids and then has three rhomboids in different stages of completion. The four main paths in the park cross through the Friendship Circle. Its great to be able to get up close and touch or climb on this really interesting piece of art.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Yes, I know its not a photo of Cheltenham, but I forgot to take the camera with me to the South West biggest fireworks display at the Cheltenham Racecourse on Saturday night. The fireworks were excellent, but you'll have to take my word for it! As its the 5th November it is, of course, Fireworks night or Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night. They all mean the same thing - the night we celebrate the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King and law makers of Britain in 1605. Now you understand the link to the photo! Took this photo from the London Eye in March this year. I'm away for a few days visiting family, so check back on Friday for the next post.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Suspended Habitat

I finally paid a visit to the newly opened habitat store in town, at The Brewery, as featured in last Wednesdays post. The store is huge, around 1,760 square metres, it is the largest retail unit on the site, and is nearly 3 times larger that the old store in The Promenade. The main feature instore is the specially commissioned art installation, as shown, made up of over 250 products suspended from the double height ceiling. This is truly impressive and contains all sorts of things from cutlery to chairs. The shop is laid out with all the trimmings for Christmas as well as the usual stock and I can't wait to buy a few Christmas decorations nearer the time!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

There's Something About Mary

St Mary's Church is the parish church of Cheltenham and lies right in the heart of town. It is encompassed by Clarence Street and the Lower High Street and is adjacent to Cheltenham Library. Where, as once, it was visible by all in the town, today it is surrounded by shops and offices and is hidden from view. It is accessed by Well Walk and several alleyways from the High Street and is defiantly worth venturing off of the beaten track to find. The church is the oldest building in town and the only surviving Medieval one. St Mary's was built by the abbey of Cirencester in the early 12th century although the majority of the church is from the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1859 the church was closed by the Rev. E. Walker as it was deemed no longer fit for public worship. It under went extensive work and renovations and reopened in 1861. The Parishioners were re-homed at the tin church of St Matthew's, which was eventually replaced by a stone church between 1872 and 1895. The two Churches are now linked as Cheltenhams parish church and under take many significant religious programs, including the creation of schools in Africa. There are many old grave stones and plaques in the graveyard one of which reads - "To the memory of John Higgs, died 1825. Here lies John Higgs, A famous man for killing pigs, For killing pigs was his delight, Both morning, afternoon and night, Both heats and cold he did endure, Which no physician could e'er cure, His knife is laid, his work is done, I hope to heaven his soul is gone."

Friday, 2 November 2007

Imperial Theft and Travel

I discovered this marble fountain while searching for something blue for yesterdays post. I had no idea it existed, and have never heard about it before. It sits, tucked away from the pavement, behind some railings, on the Broadwalk (as mentioned yesterday). It is the Imperial Fountain, also known as the Napoleon Fountain, and it was stolen from Italy by the French in 1800. It was then taken by the English while it was on its way to France. The fountain was then sold to Thomas Henney, a Solicitor from Cheltenham. In 1826 Henney installed it in Imperial spa, now the site of The Queens Hotel. In 1834 the water feature was on the move again, this time up the road to Montpellier Gardens. It stayed in its new home until 1902 when it was restored and moved, again, to the Town Hall. Not done with all the moving about, it then travelled to the Public Library in 1926. It is now owned by the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, and is on loan to the Council as part of their public art scheme. So, at the moment, the Imperial Fountain is back where it started out in 1826. I hope the Italians don't come looking for it!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Theme Day - Blue

It's my first attempt at the City Daily Photo Blog theme day. I must admit that I found it quite a challenge, but I guess that is one of the reason to do it! This blue door isn't just any old blue door. It it a blue door on a building that was designed in the 1830's but not built until 1998. The lost plans for the remaining Regency terraces' alongside the Queens Hotel, on the South side of Imperial Gardens, were discovered in The Municipal Buildings in the 1990's. The Plans were refined to include underground parking and construction began. When The Broadwalk was built it completed the look of Imperial Gardens. Better late than never. Check out the other daily photo blogs around the world that have joined in with the theme day.

Boston (MA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Portland (OR), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Arradon, France - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Stockholm, Sweden - Singapore, Singapore - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Toulouse, France - The Hague, Netherlands - Moscow, Russia - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stayton (OR), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Detroit (MI), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Greenville (SC), USA - Hyde, UK - Radonvilliers, France - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Saarbrücken, Germany - New Orleans (LA), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Forks (WA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Barton (VT), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Setúbal, Portugal - Inverness (IL), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - Toruń, Poland - North Bay (ON), Canada - Le Guilvinec, France - Chateaubriant, France - London, England - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Sydney, Australia - Austin (TX), USA - Mumbai, India - Boston (MA), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Paderborn, Germany - Montréal (QC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Orlando (FL), USA - Grenoble, France - Cheltenham, UK - Forks (WA), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - London, UK - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Belgrade, Serbia - Paris, France - Shanghai, China - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Montpellier, France - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Auckland, New Zealand - Evry, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Oslo, Norway - Minneapolis (MN), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Trujillo, Peru - Trujillo, Peru - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Durban, South Africa - Brussels, Belgium - Anderson (SC), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Wellington, New Zealand - Prague, Czech Republic - Saigon, Vietnam - Ystad, Sweden

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

All Hallow's Eve!

Well, it is Hallowe'en. What else did you expect!
Here are some Hallowe'en facts to impress your friends with. 1) Hallowe'en is one of the worlds oldest celebrations, dating back 2000 years. 2) One reason given for the colours orange and black being linked to Hallowe'en is orange for Autumn harvests and black for death. 3) 99% of pumpkin sales are for Jack O' Lanterns. 4) The heaviest pumpkin in the world weighed in at 1446 pounds in Ontario, Canada in 2004. 5) Ringing a bell scares away evil spirits. 6) Worldwide over $2.5 billion is spent on Hallowe'en, second only to Christmas. 7) Trick or Treat began in Ireland when people would go door-to-door asking for food to contribute to the towns All Hallow's Eve feast. 8) To meet a witch put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Hallowe'en night. 9) The original Halloween film made in 1978 cost $320,000 to make. It has now made over $50 million. Happy Hallowe'en everyone. Hope you have a ghoulishly good time!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Supportive Ladies

One of Cheltenhams most famous features are the Caryatids in Montpellier Walk. There are 30 of these armless ladies spaced all the way from the curved entrance to the Walk up to the Rotunda buildings. They are based on the Caryatids that supported the Acropolis in Athens, although Cheltenhams Caryatids were put in place to support the heavily carved cornices above their heads instead of pillars between each shop. The original ladies at the entrance were installed in 1843 and were made of terracotta by London sculptor Rossi. By 1850 the remaining Caryatids were situated along Montpellier Walk and were created by W.G.Brown of Tivolli. Of the first terracotta Caryatids only 3 remain, one of which was removed in 1969 to be used as a model for further concrete replacements and now lives in the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Leaves Alone

This period building, on the Promenade, is available for lease. Its locked up in preparation for a new tenant and the fallen leaves from the trees, that line The Prom, are safe from being swept up. The Council sweeps up leaves on all the main pedestrian areas of town everyday, so there isn't that much of Autumn under foot. These leaves fell on the right side of the fence.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Observe The Mystery

Here is another shot of the Cheltenham Ladies College. This is the Observatory that can be seen in Tuesdays photo. The photo is taken from The Promenade, through two other buildings. The street it is actually on is just a minor thorough fair, rarely used. I'm sure that many Cheltonions don't know this tower, with its clock and copper dome, even exists. All I know is the building is built in a French-Gothic style. I've tried to find out more about it using the Internet and books about Cheltenhams history, but to no avail. I guess I'll have to visit the Ladies to find out more. If anyone knows anything about it please let me know.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Italian Tranquility

This is the Italian Garden in Sandford Park. I stood on the top of the steps, that lead down to this wonderful sunken pool, to take this picture and right behind me was the constant flow of traffic on Bath Road. The contrasts of Cheltenham just feet apart. The pool has a line of 5 fountains down the middle and, as you can see, is lined by 4 clipped Yew trees on either side. The Italian Garden forms part of a park that is split in two by College Road. This formal part, on the west side, has other pools and fountains, and is used by office workers for lunchtime peace. On the east side of College Road is a larger, open space, adjacent to Cheltenham General Hospital, used for dog walking, sports and the landing site of the air ambulance. The park also has the River Chelt running through it, but more on that another time.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Cathedral Shopping

The Regent Arcade in Cheltenham has, in the past, been described as "a Cathedral of shopping" because of its 600 foot high barrel roof. It was built between 1982 and 1984, opened in 1985 and cost £23 million. With 78 shops under cover it soon became the most popular shopping centre in town, although before its construction it had considerable opposition with a petition against it of over 20,000 signatures. More recently the building has been in the news, and a topic of much debate, due to the current owners redevelopment plans. The most controversial being the replacement of the roof. Plans have been passed by Cheltenham Borough Council for the removal of the present one and a flat glass roof to be put in its place. Its hard to imagine what the Regent Arcade will look like without its most impressive feature but its going to happen in 2008.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Out With The Old In With the New

At this time of year the council removes all the summer bedding plants from the beds, boarders and gardens around Cheltenham and replace them with pansies, polyanthus and wallflowers. This is a massive undertaking and uses many hundreds of plants to ensure winter and spring colour. The majority of plants are raised at the council nursery at Hayden Lane in Cheltenham. In the Long Garden, in front of the Municipal buildings, half a dozen or so gardeners were hard at back breaking work ensuring that Cheltenham remains green and pleasant.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Moving Day

Habitat opens it new and relocated Cheltenham store today at The Brewery. I was drawn to the outside of the shop as all the windows and doors were covered over to make it look like one huge packing box, it even had 'This Way Up' on part of it. (If only I had taken a photo from the other side of the street to show the full effect). When I took this photo on Monday I had a sneaky peek through the half open door and it looked like the staff had their work cut out to get it ready for today. Packing boxes everywhere.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Ladies Learning

This is The Princess Hall, viewed from Montpelier Street, which forms one of the oldest parts of Cheltenham Ladies College. It was built on the site of Royal Well Pump Room, Cheltenhams first Spa, between 1895 and 1897. The buildings architecture and stone masonry give it great grandeur. The Ladies College dates back to 1853 and one of its most famous Principles was Miss Dorothea Beale, who lead the college from 1858 to 1906. The college now educates around 860 girls and employs 130 or so teachers. If you are interested in sending your own daughter there it costs £8,176 for a boarder per term. I'm sure it's worth every penny! As far as I know the roof just in the photo on the left belongs to the Library and the domed roof on the right is the Observatory. The Princess Hall is home to a large pipe organ on the upper rear gallery and hosts choirs, concerts and conferences.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Minotaur And Hare

This bronze statue in The Prom has, in the past, been the cause of some controversy. It was originally installed in 1995 as part of a temporary art exhibition featuring the work of Sophie Ryder. As the exhibition drew to a close it was decided that a piece of her work should remain in the town. The Minotaur and the Hare was acquired in 1998 by public subscription (cost £50,000), and it has stood in The Prom ever since. Standing at over 7 feet tall it's hard to really miss it as you walk through The Prom, although locals rarely give it a second glance. It is good to see that it still interests some people.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

A Model Village

Behind The Old New Inn in Bourton on the Water lies a model village of, you've guessed, Bourton on the Water. This 1/9th scale replica is one of Bourtons most interesting and unusual attractions. It was constructed in the early thirties and includes the River Windrush, St Lawrences church and a host of shops. The photo shows part of the model village that makes my head hurt. A model village with a model village in it, with a model village in the model village in the model village! Brain ache!
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