BAYSHILL

The discovery of a well in 1718 was found to have medicinal qualities and the owner of that well, one William Mason who had met the Manxman, Henry Skillicorne and married Mason's daughter, Elizabeth realised the well's potential.

Other Spa's existed at that time and were very popular, namely, Bath, Clifton and Tunbridge but rumours of the curative properties of the Cheltenham Spa soon spread and so it was decided to enclose the well and impose a charge.

In 1738 Henry Skillicorne had moved from Bristol to Cheltenham where he acquired land; partly through his marriage and partly by purchase. He was a well-travelled and shrewd business man as his epitaph in the Parish Church shows. From then on, he devoted himself to the improvement and enlargement of the Spa and built an approach road and the Morning Post of 1743 reported an influx of 600 people of great fortune and gentility.

Building continued until the late 1840's and the area contained some of Cheltenham's finest houses, though most are offices today. However, at the southern end of Parabola Road a terrace of houses called Queen's Parade was left unfinished in 1846 when the builder, William Swain, went bankrupt. The terrace was partially completed and by 1848 the Bayshill Company itself, was bankrupt. But things were to change for by the 1840's the fashion for 'taking the waters' had declined

This great influx of visitors to Cheltenham led to an increase in the entertainments offered and there were cudgel matches, cock-fighting which, no doubt, appealed to a few but there were more refined entertainments on offer; the Theatre, Assembly Rooms, Cards, Balls and so on and Cheltenham was 'on the map'.

Lord Fauconberg visited Cheltenham and liked what he saw so Skillicorne built him a grand house in Bayshill which later became the temporary residence of George III when he and his family visited Cheltenham in the hope that the renowned Spa waters would cure the king of his malady.

However grand Fauconberg Lodge may have seemed from the exterior, the interior seemed to have left much to be desired according to Fanny Burney, one of the Queen's Ladies. Having run the gauntlet of the multitude who had gathered outside to see the Royal Families' arrival, Miss Burney and Miss Plant entered via the front door where the king graciously enquired of their journey. Lady Weymouth summoned Fanny to attend the Queen who proceeded to show her the room.


"This, Madam!" cried Miss Burney. "Is this little room for Your Majesty?"

"Oh! Stay!" said the Queen laughing "till you see your own, before you call it little."

Whatever the accommodation, the Royal Family enjoyed their stay though sadly, the Spa waters were unable to restore the king to perfect health. Nevertheless it was the Royal visit which set the future for Cheltenham on a sound basis for, following the Royal visit it began to enjoy the patronage of many people of renown.

To accommodate these gentile and rich visitors, new homes, in keeping with their status had to be built and so Bayshill Estate gradually developed into the layout we see today. Little has changed and though Fauconberg Lodge was demolished in its place Bayshill House was built, and it was here that Baron de Ferrieres resided for over 40 years in the house which later became Sidney Lodge and is now the property of the Ladies College.

Perhaps one of the most well-known residents in that area was Baron de Ferrieres who lived at the new Bayshill House when Fauconberg Lodge was pulled down to make room for a more modern building.

Baron de Ferrieres was one of the most popular residents of this area and became mayor of the town. He was a Liberal Member of Parliament - a well-respected gentleman who resided for over 40 years in the house which later became Sidney Lodge and is now the property of the Ladies College.

So here we have an area which was and still is, totally different from the area called Lower Alstone which was the nucleus of the original village and whilst Lower Alstone has changed almost beyond recognition, the Bayshill area of Upper Alstone has changed very little.Regency villas began to appear in Bayshill Road and Parabola Road and the whole area became one of studied elegance which has changed very little and indeed, is one of the more attractive areas of Cheltenham.

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