King George III, Queen Charlotte and three of their daughters arrived in Cheltenham on 12th July 1788 to take the Spa waters of William Mason and Henry Skillicorne’s spring at Bayshill Meadow (later renamed Royal Well). The King stayed at Lord Fauconberg’s town house with his entourage for 5 weeks, forever establishing the town as a fashionable destination for walking, riding, theatre plays, and social excursions.
Imperial Square was established, along with the Promenade, in 1817-18 as part of the botantical pleasure grounds of the Sherborne Spa. Due to a fall in the water table the original Spa building was relocated further down the Promenade, and the Queen’s Hotel was built in its place by Robert William and Charles Jearrad in 1837-8. During the 1830’s, most of the fine Regency houses surrounding Imperial Square were constructed.
By the time the new Town Hall was completed in 1903, Imperial Square and Gardens had become the hub and focus of the town’s social scene, and often referred to as ‘the jewel in Cheltenham’s crown’. From late nineteenth century postcards to early twenty-first century live television broadcasts, Imperial Square and Gardens have provided that characteristic and quintessentially English Spa town setting, attracting townspeople and visitors from all over the world.
Today, Imperial Square and Gardens are famous for their fine Regency architecture and magnificent floral displays, still providing the ‘pleasure grounds’ established some 250 years ago for residents and visitors alike. Whether meeting family or friends, attending the well-supported festivals or simply enjoying the view and ambiance, welcome to Cheltenham’s ‘signature square’.