Cheltenham, a market town and parliamentary borough of Gloucestershire, England, on the river Chelt, 86 m. N. W. of London; pop. in 1871, 44,519. It is celebrated as a fashionable watering place. It lies in an extensive valley open to the south and west, but sheltered on other sides by an amphitheatre formed by the Malvern, Cotswold, and Leckhampton hills. The scenery on every side is noted for its picturesque beauty. Excepting a large railway carriage and wagon manufactory, the town has no manufactures, and but little trade beyond supplying the wealthy invalids who make it their residence, and whose houses and villas adorn the suburbs and surrounding country. The place possesses the usual attributes of a fashionable resort: assembly rooms, theatre, reading and billiard rooms, club house, literary and philosophic institute, horticultural and choral societies, cricket ground, race course, etc. The parochial church of St. Mary's is an ancient Gothic structure, in the decorated style, cruciform in shape, with a tower rising from the intersection of the cross, and with a lofty octagonal spire containing a peal of eight hells. There are 19 other churches and chapels, and numerous educational and benevolent institutions.
Among the former is a free grammar school founded in 1578. Cheltenham proprietary college was erected in 1843, and is attended by over 600 students. The college building is an imposing specimen of the Tudor collegiate style, with a frontage of 240 ft. There are four springs: the Royal old well, Montpelier spa, Pittville spa, and Cambray spa, with numerous baths. The water is a saline acidulous chalybeate, its main constituents being chloride of sodium, sulphate of soda, sulphate of magnesia, carbonic acid, and carbonate of iron, and is esteemed in bilious ailments. The first spring was discovered in 1716, but it was not till 1788, when George III. visited the town for his health, that it became a place of fashionable resort. Since then its growth has been very rapid.