Architecture on and around the Lower High Street

1
Post Office Map of Cheltenham, 1920

Our group project aims to identify and analyse the architectural significance of buildings, as well as the green space, in the Cheltenham Lower High Street. The Cheltenham High Street was first recorded on a Post Office Map of Cheltenham in 1820 and since this date has developed from a market town to a thriving commercial area.[1]

The primary focus of this project are buildings from the 1800s to the present day. We aim to research and analyse the original purpose of the buildings, the purposes they have held over the years, and the changes that have taken place. The central focus will be on three buildings: Normandy House, the Old Workhouse, and the Winston Churchill Memorial Gardens. We will provide case studies for each of these, demonstrating changes on the Lower High Street over the years, and the way in which the buildings have been adapted to represent the changing times.[2]

2In terms of boundaries, the area of the Lower High Street that we are placing our primary focus on is from St. Georges Street to Swindon Street. This section is home to multiple different types of buildings with many different functions, from pubs to printing shops as well as numerous ethnic grocery stores.

One of the buildings we are placing our focus on is Normandy House, situated on the corner of St. Georges Street and Ambrose Street. On the map, this building is represented as a purple building, circled in red.[3] Normandy House is a Georgian Era building, which according to an 1834 map, was originally used as a villa. Following on from this it is recorded as a General Hospital and Dispensary in 1839. It was transformed into this role with the help of Robert Jearrad, a well-known architect of the time, who was involved in the creation of many other buildings in and around Cheltenham.[4] The role of Normandy House changed in 1849 when a new hospital building was opened on Sanford Road, on a much larger site. After this, Normandy House was left unused until the outbreak of the Crimean War, when it was once again opened to help treat injured soldiers. It functioned in this role from 1853-56, until it was once again closed and left unused. The layout of the building was eventually deemed suitable for dormitories, and it was remodelled to provide accommodation for student teachers studying at the training college. Today, although the building remains mostly unchanged, it is now the main offices for Beam Construction (since 2009). Normandy House maintains a primary position within Cheltenham town, set slightly back from the hustle and bustle of the town centre.[5]

3
Normandy House

[1] Post Office Map of Cheltenham, 1820.

[2] Cheltenham Borough Council, Cheltenham Local Development Framework: Lower High Street Character Area Appraisal and Management Plan, July 2008

[3] http://www.heritage-explorer.co.uk/web/he/searchdetail.aspx?id=6039

[4] https://cheltonia.wordpress.com/cheltenham-whos-who/

[5] Sally Self et al, Journal 27, ‘Cheltenham Local History Society’, 2011, p. 9-11.

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