A timeline for Pittville: some events from the estate’s past

1825 – Laying the Pump Room’s foundation stone

Morning Post – 20 April
Cheltenham … The various improvements in this fashionable place of resort proceed with a rapidity truly astonishing. The foundation stone of the Pittville Pump-Room, will be laid, with due Masonic ceremony, early in the ensuing month. The spacious reservoir, now forming on the road leading to Hewletts, is in a state of great forwardness, pipes are already laid to a distance of nearly two miles from the town.

1825 – Fireworks after the laying of the foundation stone at Pittville Pump Room

Morning Post – 14 May
At half-past nine o’clock the exhibition of fire-works attracted a numerous assemblage to the vicinity of the Evesham turnpike. One circumstance appears to us too singular to pass unnoticed: – the fireworks had scarcely commenced before the most astonishing and almost supernatural effect was given to the scene by the vivid flashing of lightning, unaccompanied, however, by any sound of thunder; and some of the flashes, evanescent as they were, burst through the dense dark clouds with a brilliancy and splendour far indeed beyond human description. Many who witnessed the reflecting gleams that shot “like meteors through the troubled air”, imagined the light to be some delusion of the mechanist.

1827The construction of the Pump Room continues…

Morning Post – 16 June
The Pittville Pump Room now presents a very grand and imposing appearance. The scaffolding is entirely taken away from the exterior, and the statues of HEGEIA, ESCULAPIUS, and HIPPOCTAES have taken their appointed stations over the grand colonnade. We greatly fear, however, that notwithstanding all its architectural embellishments, its distance from the town will operate seriously against it ever becoming the general resort of those who visit Cheltenham.

1829 – Ancient nut tree dug up by workmen at Pittville

Standard 30 September
In sinking the foundation of a sewer on the north side of town last week one of the workmen struck his spade against a hard substance, and on observing it more minutely, it proved to be a branch of the common filbert tree; two or three nuts were attached to it, and the shells in perfect preservation. On cracking it, the kernel was not in the least decayed, but was as sweet to the taste as if it had been of the present year’s growth. As it was found sixteen feet below the surface, in all probability, many centuries ago, a wood existed in this situation, which is rendered more probable, as since the works commenced at Pittville, several logs of timber have been discovered many feet below even the present level of the little brook. – Cheltenham Journal.

1837 – Grand Pittville party outrivals Montpellier

Cheltenham Looker-on – 1 April, p.  199
A Grand Fancy Ball was given … by Mrs Moore Beetlestone … [at] Segrave House [now No 2 Pittville Lawn]. One hundred and fifty fashionables were present. The greatest private party that has taken place in Cheltenham throughout the winter.

Mr Butts quadrille band was in attendance in fancy costume and performed an excellent selection of the most popular dances. An elegant and sumptuous supper … then dancing until 6 o’clock.
[It was also noted in a small paragraph that another party had been held in Montpellier that week but it seems fewer attended and they only “danced til 5 o’clock in the morning”.]

1844 – Mr Hampton’s Balloon Ascent at Cheltenham

Illustrated London News – 31 August, p. 135
On Wednesday afternoon Mr. Hampton, the intrepid aeronaut, made a beautiful ascent, with his new balloon, from Pit[t]ville Gardens, Cheltenham. The gardens were numerously attended by persons of rank and respectability. At a quarter past five o’clock the “Monster Balloon” left the gardens, amidst the hearty cheers of the spectators. There being little wind, the balloon rose almost perpendicularly, and passing slowly over the town, a most splendid view was afforded and enjoyed. After being in mid-air for more than an hour, Mr. Hampton and his companion, Mr. Carter, jun., descended on the west side of Day-hill [presumably Bay’s-hill], the locality where his parachute alighted in the year 1838. (Bill Jehan)

1848Shots fired near Pittville circus

Illustrated London News – 22 January
A Juvenile Duel. – On Friday morning (last week) a concourse of boys were gathered together near Pittville-circus, and, by their violent gestures, appeared to be quarrelling. Soon after, one of the party, by name [John] Cooke, left the group and ran a distance of about fifteen yards, when, turning round, he fired a pistol at a boy named Hughes. The latter seemed determined to have satisfaction, and proceeded a little distance along the road, apparently with the intention of performing a similar manœuvre. (Julian Holland)

Pittville Circus (Cheltenham Old Town Survey 1855-7: section) (Permission: CBC, GA,CLHS)
1866 – Launch of the ‘Cheltenham’ lifeboat at Pittville

The first purpose-built lifeboats in Britain were deployed on the north-east coast in the late 18th century, after a number of shipwrecks near to land where people might have been saved if the right equipment had been to hand. The RNLI was established in 1824, and towns and cities often raised funds for new boats. An appeal in Cheltenham in 1866 bought a new lifeboat (‘The Cheltenham’) for Burnham, near Weston-super-Mare, and as a thank-you to the citizens of the town the boat was ceremoniously launched in Pittville Lake in 10 October by MP Charles Schreiber, in front of a large crowd. (Illustrated London News, 20 October 1866) (Courtesy of Tom Clarke)

1866 – Robbery at Pittville

Cheltenham Chronicle – 16 October
Yesterday … The prisoners were apprehended near Essex-lodge, Pittville, and close to the spot a brown silk purse was found; it is fastened by two steel rings, and contained 1d.

1868 – Cricket at Pittville

Paul Ward Reminiscences of Cheltenham College, by an old Cheltonian, ch. 7 p. 69
The dearth of good cricket clubs [in Cheltenham] has been severely felt; and in consequence has been such absurdities as “A to K against the rest of the alphabet”, and “Reading Desk v. Pulpit”, matches in which no sort of interest can ever be aroused. Now, however, there is a good club, which plays on a new ground at Pittville, called the “Cheltenham and County of Gloucester Cricket Club”, and another within nine miles, “The City of Gloucester”, which is yearly increasing in strength and efficiency.

1877 – The sale of Segrave House in Pittville

Cheltenham Looker-On – 9 June p. 355 Cheltenham.
Engall, Sanders, & Cox Have been favoured with instructions
To Sell by Public Auction, At the Cheltenham Auction Mart, No. 1, Promenade, on Thursday Next, June 14th, at 3 for 4 o’clock (exact time), under and subject to Conditions of Sale there and then to be produced, (unless in the interim a desirable offer of Purchase by Private Treaty be made), All that charmingly situate, substantially-built and commodious Freehold Residence, situate on the Pittville Estate, within a few minutes’ walk of several Churches, and within easy distance of the College, Ladies’ College, the Clubs, and centre of the Town, and known as “Segrave House”.

It contains Five Bed Rooms, Dressing Room, fitted Bath Room; Two magnificent Drawing Rooms, measuring respectively 22ft. 8in. by 20ft., and 26ft. by 14ft. 6in., (divided by folding doors), the latter of which is available and now used as a Bed Room; excellent Dining Rooms, 24ft. 6in. by 15ft. 6in., Breakfast Room or Library, 20ft. 6in. by 14ft. 6in., spacious Entrance Hall, Lavatory, China Pantry, Housekeeper’s Room, Butler’s Pantry, binned Wine Cellar, capital Kitchen, Scullery, Larder, and other offices, with Garden at the rear. The House is well-fitted with capacious Cupboards and Closets, and other conveniences, and having recently been placed in perfect repair by the Resident Owner expressly for his own occupation is ready for the immediate reception of a Family without further outlay; Gas and Hill Water Services throughout.

The Stabling Department is in the rear and detached, being separated by the back road; I stands in an enclosed Yard, and consists of three-stalled Stable, Coach House, Harness Room, with Coachman’s Room and Loft over. Gas is laid on, and there is an excellent supply of Pump Water. For further particulars apply to A. D. G. Palmer, Solicitor, Essex House, Rodney Terrace, or to Messrs. Engall, Sanders, Cox, and Pearson, Estate and House Agents, The Cheltenham Auction Mart, No. 1, Promenade.

1887 – Crime in Pittville Lawn

Cheltenham Chronicle – 21 March
‘An Honourable Man and a Gentleman’, or a Sharper? … Frederick Herbert, a gentlemanly-looking man, described as a law clerk, was charged with obtaining by false pretences from Maria Colby, at Napier House, Pittville, Cheltenham, on the 18th March, the sum of £l, with intent to defraud the said Colby.—Supt. McRae stated that the prisoner was arrested this morning in the Coffee Tavern, Gloucester road, and £l in money found upon him.

1887 – Pittville to become a “Garden of Eden”

Cheltenham Chronicle – 26 March
The Pittville Gardens. – The Pittville Gardens have fallen into good hands, under which they promise to become the most popular and fashionable resort in the town. Mr Edward Shenton has taken the lease, and with his characteristic go-a-head policy, is exercising all means to convert the place into the nearest approach to the Garden of Eden.

The new middle broad walk is now ornamented by a handsome fountain of elaborate design, and the Pump Room looks very pretty, having been in the hands of the painter and decorator within the past week or so.

The waters are here dispersed free to all subscribers. The lake offers attractions to those who love boating, and also to those who love the gentle art of angling. In a side room of the Pump Room is a Cosmorama depicting views of the Alps, Rome, Amiens, and other towns of interest on the Continent … – Advt.

1894 – Official naming of Pittville Park; entrance by subscription

The grounds at Pittville were also re-named; the old gardens and the new addition are henceforth known as The Pittville Park. The following scale charges was, after criticism on particular points, approved: ENTRANCE FEES. For Families — Subscriptions […]
To Pittville and Marle Hill, including right of Skating: 15s.
To Residents on the Estate (entitled to admission to Pittville) to Marle Hill: 10s.
To Montpellier Gardens: 15s.
To both the above grounds: 25s.
To Residents of Pittville Estate: 20s. […]
Admission of Individuals – Non-Subscribers. These charges remain as heretofore, viz.:
To Pittville and Marle Hill: 2d. – including Skating 6d.
To Montpellier Gardens: 3d.

Boating. – For Skiffs and Canoes – The season: £1 10 0 – The whole year: £2 0 0
[Etc., etc.]

1897 – The Prince of Wales passed by the new Pittville Gates on his way back from reviewing the local militia at the racecourse

Cheltenham Looker-On – 15 May
“Among the many newer decorations, one flag of historical interest which floated above the balcony of 3, Pittville Lawn should be noted. It was that of Capt. Robert Faulknor, who, in 1794, sailed in the Blanche frigate for Halifax, with his Highness Prince Edward, grandfather of the Prince of Wales, on board the frigate.”

Robert Faulknor the Younger had been killed in action off Guadeloupe in January 1795. He belonged to a celebrated naval dynasty of Faulknors. No 3 Pittville Lawn (now No 33) was occupied in 1897 by General Jonathan Augustus Spry Faulknor.
1901 – More plans for the replacement of Essex Lodge

Cheltenham Chronicle – 6 April
CHELTONIAN CHATTER. Some curiosity was expressed at the Town Council meeting to know what the Pump Room improvements were likely to cost. Judging from previous experience of the cost of renovating buildings of such dimensions, it will again be a question of thousands rather than of hundreds. The demolition of squalid-looking Essex Lodge and the erection of an ornamental chalet in its place will form a great improvement. It is also suggested to enlarge the garden by doing away with the double hedge.

1907 – Cheltenham’s weather station

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society vol. 34 (1908) – p. 125
Cheltenham, August 16 [1907]. — The enclosure for the instruments has been made much larger, and light railings substituted for the thick high railings. On comparing the thermometers it was found that the minimum had gone up 1°·0. The grass minimum had a little spirit up the tube. A Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder had recently been obtained, and it is placed on the summit of the dome of the pavilion in the Pit[t]ville Gardens. The ball was not quite in the centre of the frame, but this I adjusted. The rain-measuring glass was not correct, and I recommended that a new one be obtained forthwith.

1910 – Hooliganism at Pittville

Cheltenham Chronicle — 30 July p. 1
CHELTENHAM TOWN COUNCIL … ‘The Hobbledehoys of Ours.’ Moving the minutes of the Town Improvement Committee, Mr. Baker said considerable damage continued to be done to flowers and shrubs at Pittville. It would take a lot to educate ‘these hobbledehoys of ours’ to protect their own property. It has been decided to ask the public to assist in the prevention of damage and in the detection of offenders; and notices would be posted intimating that if the damage continued the public would be admitted on Sundays at the Essex Lodge entrance only.

1948 – First “Bevan Baby” born at Sunnyside Maternity Home, Pittville, has surname Bevan!

Gloucestershire Echo – 7 July p. 3
Sunnyside (now Byron Court), in Pittville Circus Road, was built in the 1870s as a private residence. Around 1940 it became maternity home, though in the late 1930s the Borough had considered developing it as a home for the elderly. After the establishment of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948, the first baby delivered at Sunnyside was born to Mrs. Olive Bevan, wife of Charles Bevan, of Rose Cottage, East End Road, Charlton Kings.