Mark Cummings: Come dine with me Cheltenham

Municipal Offices, Cheltenham (c) Steve Buckley / Shutterstock

Municipal Offices, Cheltenham (c) Steve Buckley / Shutterstock - Credit: Archant

BBC Gloucestershire’s Mark Cummings talks us through his three courses of Cheltenham that will sate your appetite for local knowledge

An incomplete circle, the birth of the Jet Age, Joe Louis shadow boxing in the garden, fakery at the council offices and our future king’s designs on The Prom. If you dig deep enough with an inquisitive mind and a love of learning it’s remarkable what can you pick up on a stroll around the town.

I took a large and expectant gang of Cheltonians for an adventure into the promised land with the brilliant tourist guide Mary Moxam. Having heard about previous jaunts in Gloucester, Stroud and Cirencester, my expectant crowd were hungry for tasty morsels to sate their appetite for local knowledge. To get your taste buds tickling here’s a taster menu of treats to tempt you to try more.

Starters: The Royal Crescent was intended to be a full circle as they have in Bath, but building was stopped due to planning problems! The grand Municipal Offices on the Prom are built out of simple brick with a cunning addition of Regency render.

Main Course: Cavendish House got its name from Cavendish Square in London. One of the earliest owners of the department store, Thomas Clark, had once owned a small drapery shop close to Cavendish Square. When he expanded to our neck of the woods he took the name with him. Sir Frank Whittle invented the jet engine in a garage in Cheltenham where the Regent Arcade now stands.

The architectural decorators and furnishers H.H. Martyn designed the Speaker’s Chair, the staircase on the Titanic and the pulpit at St Paul’s Cathedral. Have a look at the final building at the end of the Municipal Offices near Neptune’s fountain. It appears as if it’s part of the whole run of buildings. Look more closely and you’ll spot it is a modern addition “suggested” by an amateur architect from Tetbury. (Some refer to him as HRH The Prince of Wales.) Whilst standing looking at this building you might hear the trickling of water under the pavement. You are a few feet away from The River Chelt which flows under The Prom.

Dessert/pudding... a few nibbles to end on to tempt you to come back for more: Pop into the Montpellier branch of Lloyds Bank which also happens to be the Montpellier Rotunda and simply look up to the ceiling of this stunning building. Wander around Imperial Gardens and imagine a huge glass Winter Gardens structure. This was built in the late 19th century as an entertainment venue. Joe Louis did an exhibition here and the Gloucester Aircraft Company it as a warehouse. It was demolished to frustrate Luftwaffe navigation during the Second World War.

Finally have a look at The Queen’s Hotel and take a guess on why it was originally intended to be called The King’s Hotel.

We hoped you enjoyed your meal, please call again. Service not included. Tips donated to

For more from Mark Cummings, listen to him on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s morning show 6am-9am and follow him on Twitter! @cummingsradio

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