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Cheltenham in 1837

CHELTENHAM, a town and parish in the hundred Cheltenham, eastern division of Gloucestershire, 88 miles west by north from London, 8 miles north-east from Gloucester, and 39½ miles north by east from Bath. The area of the parish is 3,740 acres.

The town lies in the east quarter of the parish ; it is rapidly increasing, particularly north-west and south, in which directions the limits of the parish afford ample space for its extension. Cheltenham was created a parliamentary borough under the Reform Act ; the borough is co-extensive with the parish, and returns one member to parliament. The town is a polling place for the eastern division of the county.

The town of Cheltenham owes its existence to its mineral springs and its pleasant situation. The Cotswold hills form an immense amphitheatre on the north-east ; and the valley in which it lies being open on the south and west renders its temperature equable and agreeable. A saline spring was discovered here about the year 1716 ; some years afterwards it was inclosed and invalids began to visit the place in summer ; but it was not till near the end of the eighteenth century that the few houses constituting Cheltenham assumed the appearance of a town.

The discovery of a number of additional springs favoured its increase. In 1811 the population of the parish, more than one-half of which was concentrated in the town, was 8,325 ; in 1821 it was 13,396 ; and by 1831 it was 22,942, showing an increase of 9,546 in ten years. The number of houses in 1821 was 2,550 ; in 1831, 4,349, of which latter number 2,067 were taxed at £10 and upwards. The amount of assessed taxes paid by the entire parish (which includes the town) was, in 1830, £21,184.

Cheltenham is entirely dependent on its visitors, who are generally either persons who have no occupation or invalids of the more affluent classes. This circumstance, and the additional one, that the town is of recent creation, will sufficiently account for the fact that as to the construction of the buildings and the general arrangement of the place, Cheltenham is a very agreeable residence.

The town consists of one spacious street, about a mile in length, with several branching from it at right angles. The different places of public amusement, the pump-rooms, hotels, and lodging-houses, are rather superior to what are usually found in places of similar resort. There is a large gravelled promenade, called the Well Walk, about 600 feet in length, and 20 in breadth.

In addition to the parish church, which is a fine old building, there are four Episcopal chapels. Two of these, in 1835, were held by the parish incumbent, whose gross average annual income is returned at £1,170 ; the ministers of the other two chapels have £250 each. The parish is in the diocese of Gloucester.

In 1835 the number of schools, daily and Sunday, in Cheltenham was 52, of which two were charity schools. There is an hospital and some minor charities. There is a railroad from Cheltenham to Gloucester. A small rivulet called the Chilt, which has given name to the parish and hundred of Cheltenham, runs past the town, and falls into the Severn. There are a variety of detached houses, some of them very handsome, in the vicinity of Cheltenham, which add to the beauty of the surrounding country.