KEEPING ARLE SELECT

It is difficult to imagine Cheltenham in its hey-day as a spa town bursting at the seams with people of various persuasions, all pleasure bent. However not everyone agreed with the high jinks, and the residents of Arle are said to have remained aloof from it all, although one or two did offer lodgings to some revellers.

As early as August 1767, when Katherine Dormer made her will at Arle Court (and died there on 11 November), Henry Skillicorne's Royal Old Well was in full swing with a small ballroom and a billiard room above, for the use of the patrons. Being a family woman Katherine Dormer was not going to allow Arle Court, her family home, to suffer the same fate.

One of the four daughters and co-heiresses of Justice Fleetwood Dormer and his wife, a Lygon, by whom he had obtained the Arle Court Estate, decreed that it should be sold and the proceeds divided between them. However one, Mary, had died, and two were married, and Katherine who was unmarried believed that as such she was entitled to the house and estate. She records in her will 'the long and troublesome law suits in which I have been unhappily engaged for the support and defence of my just rights, in which I should have been a much greater sufferer than I am but for the assistance so kindly given me by his Lordship, the Earl of Hardwicke, one time Recorder of Gloucester and Lord Chancellor of England! As a grateful return for this assistance Katherine Dormer left Arle Court, and the land which had formerly belonged to the Lygons of Madresfield, to the Hon. John Yorke, fourth son of the Earl of Hardwicke. Her will contained strict instructions that 'all the pictures, tapestries, looking glasses, beds and bedding in my mansion house at Arle Court should go, along with the said house, as heirlooms and not be sold or disposed of', and that Arle Court House itself should not be ‘let or demised to any person who shall use or exercise the trades or business of a Vintner, Innkeeper, Coffee House Man or Victualler or be made use of as a place of Publick Entertainment or Resort whatsoever’.

Today Arle Court House remains, and the Estate has gone completely.

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