St Mary's, Cheltenham's Medieval Parish Church, c.1840

Welcome to Cheltenham's Local History Hub

CLHS welcomes everyone who shares our interest in the study and promotion of local history, particularly the history of our town, Cheltenham, and the surrounding area in the county of Gloucestershire.

If you have an enquiry about the history of Cheltenham and its inhabitants, contact our enquiries coordinator Joyce Cummings.


Tuesday 20th February 7.30pm
David Smith
The Fifth Earl of Berkeley and Mary Cole (1784- 1811): a Regency scandal

Council Chamber, Municipal Offices, Cheltenham

For more details about our programme of Lectures for 2017/18, see Meetings and Lectures

Please note that the speakers for the March and April meetings at 7:30pm at the Council Chamber have been rescheduled – Barry Simon’s talk on the History of Swindon Village will now take place on 17 April, and the talk on VCH Cheltenham by Alex Craven and Beth Hartland will be on 20 March.


Register an interest pre-publication and receive a 25% discount on the forthcoming VCH book
Cheltenham Before the Spa
by Beth Hartland and Alex Craven.

The familiar image of Cheltenham, a large and prosperous former spa town, world-famous on account of its Georgian and Regency architecture, its festivals and educational establishments, masks an earlier history. Although numerous descriptions of the town have been published, most say little about the centuries before the 1740s, when it began to develop into a fashionable resort. This is the fullest account ever attempted to chronicle those centuries, from the late Saxon period until the 18th century. In this period Cheltenham developed into a successful small town, ranged along a single main street, with a market and trades serving not only its own needs but also those of the surrounding countryside. This new study draws on a range of documentary sources preserved in local and national archives, many of them never examined in detail before. It therefore helps to explain the foundations upon which present-day Cheltenham was constructed.

To receive a pre-publication discount of 25% - price £9 - register your interest by email with James Hodsdon or Sally Self


Read our latest Newsletter

Our Newsletters are published three times a year, in March, July and November. The next Newsletter will be published in November 2017. Notices and articles should be submitted to the editor, Kath Boothman, by Monday 9 October 2017.


The CLHS Journal is published once a year in April. See The Journal for our online archive of previous issues.

If any member would like to write an article for the 2018 Journal please contact the editor, Sally Self, as soon as possible. Advice and support on writing the article can be given if needed. Articles should be submitted to the editor by 30 November 2017 at the latest.



The Pittville Subscription Book is a large ledger in which early 19th. century visitors to Cheltenham recorded their subscriptions to use the facilities at the Pump Room and the surrounding pleasure grounds. The CD gives a brief history of the Pump Room and the Book, with over 8,000 entries from the 475 pages. The present day locations of the addresses allows one to explore the lives of these visitors and to chart the expansion of Cheltenham.

Price £5 each ( UK P & P for up to two discs, free )
Cheques payable to Cheltenham Local History Society
Download Order Form

CLHS Display at Cheltenham Local & Family History Centre

Cheltenham Cheltenham Local History Society has a display table in the Cheltenham Local & Family History Centre In Chester Walk, behind the main public library in Clarence Street, where we have regularly-changing documentary and photographic displays focusing on various aspects of the town’s history. Because of a delay in the publication of Cheltenham Before the Spa, a book dedicated to the town’s history prior to 1740, the displays have had to be changed.

The displays will now be as follows:

‘Maps for the Local Historian – a Valuable Source’ - January/February
‘Cheltenham’s Slave Owners’ - March/April
Cheltenham prior to 1740, featuring Cheltenham Before the Spa, by Beth Hartland and Alex Craven - May/June
Food for Free: the History of Cheltenham’s Allotments - July/August

If any member has a collection of photographs or other documents illustrating Cheltenham life in times gone by that they would be willing for the Society to use in a display at the Centre, please contact Journal Editor, Sally Self.

Download our Guide to Finding Documents at the Local History Library and Archives.

The 19th. century prints of Cheltenham used on this website have been reproduced courtesy of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and 3 images © Sue Rowbotham