CHELTENHAM, a municipal and parliamentary borough of Gloucestershire, England, 109 m. W. by N. of London by the Great Western railway; served also by the west and north line of the Midland railway. Pop. (1901) 49,439. The town is well situated in the valley of the Chelt, a small tributary of the Severn, under the high line of the Cotteswold Hills to the east, and is in high repute as a health resort. Mineral springs were accidentally discovered in 1716. The Montpellier and Pittville Springs supply handsome pump rooms standing in public gardens, and are the property of the corporation. The Montpellier waters are sulphated, and are valuable for their diuretic effect, and as a stimulant to the liver and alimentary canal. The alkaline-saline waters of Pittville are efficacious against diseases resulting from excess of uric acid. The parish church of St Mary dates from the 14th century, but is almost completely modernized. The town, moreover, is wholly modern in appearance. Assembly rooms opened in 1815 by the duke of Wellington were removed in 1901. A new town hall, including a central spa and assembly rooms, was opened in 1903. There are numerous other handsome buildings, especially in High Street, and the Promenade forms a beautiful broad thoroughfare, lined with trees. The town is famous as an educational centre. Cheltenham College (1842) provides education for boys in three departments, classical, military and commercial; and includes a preparatory school. The Ladies' College (1854), long conducted by Miss Beale (q.v.), is one of the most successful in England. The Normal Training College was founded in 1846 for the training of teachers, male and female, in national and parochial schools. A free grammar school was founded in 1568 by Richard Pate, recorder of Gloucester. The art gallery and museum may be mentioned also. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 4726 acres. The urban district of Charlton Kings (pop. 3806) forms a south-eastern suburb of Cheltenham.
The site of a British village and burying-ground, Cheltenham (Celtanhomme, Chiltham, Chelteham) was a village with a church in 803. The manor belonged to the crown; it was granted to Henry de Bohun, earl of Hereford, late in the 12th century, but in 1199 was exchanged for other lands with the king. It was granted to William de Longespée, earl of Salisbury, in 1219, but resumed on his death and granted in dower to Eleanor of Provence in 1243. In 1252 the abbey of Fécamp purchased the manor, and it afterwards belonged to the priory of Cormeille, but was confiscated in 1415 as the possession of an alien priory, and was granted in 1461 to the abbey of Lyon, by which it was held until, once more returning to the crown at the Dissolution, it was granted to the family of Dutton. The town is first mentioned in 1223, when William de Longespée leased the benefit of the markets, fairs and hundred of Cheltenham to the men of the town for three years; the lease was renewed by Henry III. in 1226, and again in 1230 for ten years. A market town in the time of Camden, it was governed by commissioners from the 18th century in 1876, when it was incorporated; it became a parliamentary borough in 1832. Henry III. in 1230 had granted to the men of Cheltenham a market on each Thursday, and a fair on the vigil, feast and morrow of St James. Although Camden mentions a considerable trade in malt, the spinning of woollen yarn was the only industry in 1779. After the discovery of springs in 1716, and the erection of a pump-room in 1738, Cheltenham rapidly became fashionable, the visit of George III. and the royal princesses in 1788 ensuring its popularity.
See S. Moreau, A Tour to Cheltenham Spa (Bath, 1738).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)