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Cheltenham

History

Cheltenham languished in the obscurity of most Cotswold towns until local pigeons began eating and thriving on the salt crystals from a local spring in the early 18th century. Soon several pumps had been bored, property speculators were throwing up terraced housing and the sick were arriving in droves. By the time George III visited in 1788 the town’s fate had been sealed and Cheltenham became the most fashionable holiday destination for England’s upper crust. Handel, Samuel Johnson and Jane Austen came here and by the mid-19th century the Victorian neo-Gothic Cheltenham College had sprung up, and soon after came the genteel Cheltenham Ladies’ College. The town retained its period glamour and allure and in the 20th century became known as the ‘Anglo-Indian’s Paradise’ as so many Empire-serving, ex-military men retired here. Today, Cheltenham is the most complete Regency town in England, but millions have been spent propping up the quick-buck buildings that the Regency entrepreneurs rushed to erect.