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Living in Cheltenham
The University of Gloucestershire is spread across three campuses in Cheltenham and one in Gloucester itself. Cheltenham is a spa town, also known as 'The Western Gateway to the Cotswolds'.
Cheltenham is a busy middle-sized town in the West Country. It has a reputation for being quite ‘upmarket’ and has been for a long time - by which we mean a couple of centuries. You’ll be able to spot this history in some of the ‘Jane Austen-style’ regency architecture. It’s certainly not the cheapest place to live, however like most places you get what you pay for and there’s definitely a place for students here, with a good nightlife and plenty of pubs and clubs.
Cheltenham has a festival for everything. Its sweet location, easy to reach but not overcrowded by surrounding towns and close to the scenic Cotswolds, makes it a choice spot for some stages and a big top. The Cheltenham Jazz, Literature, Science, and Music festivals all take place in and around the town, and the Greenbelt and Wychwood festivals borrowing Cheltenham Racecourse in the summer. Oh, and there’s a Cricket Festival too. Any students who choose to stick around over the holidays may find there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Speaking of the racecourse, you’re going to be hearing a lot about that if you study here. It’s a big tourist draw as the home of British steeplechase racing (like a normal track race, but with bizarre jumps in it) and the Gold Cup is held as the climax of the Cheltenham Festival in March. Expect it to get seriously busy.
There’s some decent shopping here. The Promenade is a bit posher, while the high street and the Beechwood and Regent Arcade shopping centres has some more familiar brands. If you go in the Regent Arcade, check out the Wishing Fish clock. It’s 45ft high, moves, and plays tunes as it ticks. There’s also the Brewery retail part which throws a gym, bingo hall, cinema and some restaurants all in together, and a regular farmer’s market for some tasty local produce.
It’s raining! What should I do?
- Catch a show: The Everyman Theatre, Playhouse Theatre, and Town Hall all run a range of plays, talks and music events all through the year. Check their websites for the upcoming schedules.
- Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum: Mainly focussed on the town’s history over the centuries, the museum has an Edwardian nursery and a working Victorian kitchen and laundry that will make you appreciate your washing machine so much more. Fans of the composer Holst, who was born here, can rummage through his personal belongings (well, maybe rummage is a strong word) and piano.
- Grow a pair: Ever heard of a raincoat? You’ve got the Cotswolds to explore or, if you were feeling particularly adventurous, you could make the 50min trip to the Forest of Dean on the other side of Gloucester.
Good to know
- Taxi: Starline or Andycars
- Car: Probably not. None of the campuses are more than 20min walk from the main shopping area and there are regular buses linking all of them to the town centre and each other. Stagecoach is the local service, and do discounts for university students.
- Train: The local station is Cheltenham Spa, on the edge of town. Gloucester is 10mins away, Bristol is 40mins and London Paddington is 2hrs.