Tudor Lodge is no more. But there is still a road named after it, and the wall in the photo above is the old Tudor Lodge boundary wall, and this neat communal garden is part of Tudor Lodge’s garden. Much of the rest of the garden though has been swallowed up by housing.
Tudor Lodge, from an old photo
To make any sense of how Tudor Lodge Road came to be, you have to look at the history of The Park as a whole.
Many spectacular building projects in Regency Cheltenham changed course (and character) in mid-building, as their owners ran out of money and had to sell up to other developers who imposed their own tastes and vision. The Park was no exception. A beautiful Regency estate focused around a teardrop-shaped curve, the project was initiated in 1831 when the land (open fields in Leckhampton) was bought by a solicitor called Thomas Billings. His ambitious vision is laid out in the map below, made in 1834. The tip of the teardrop was a pleasure ground, and he set up a comprehensive Zoological, Botanical and Horticultural Garden in the rest of it. Sites were drawn out for numerous luxury houses including a crescent of detached villas within the Park itself.
Tudor Lodge Road, which didn’t have a name at that time, is the circular road in the middle of this map extract, along with the straight bits either side of it. I’m not sure what that round spot in the middle is supposed to be … it may have been a small round building or some kind of monument. When Mr Merrett made his map in 1834 he mapped out all the proposed development. The darker blue houses are the ones that had already been built, and the lighter ones were still in development.
1834 map, showing the Park development as it was planned, NOT as it was actually built.
Despite valiant efforts to make it work, the Zoological Garden was not the success that was hoped, and Billings found himself with no choice but to abandon his part-built estate. It was bought by the architect Samuel Whitfield Daukes, who immediately scrumpled up much of Billings’ original plan.
Daukes himself lived in The Park, in Whitfield House, which appears on the 1834 map as the sole “really built” house on the south-west side of the circular road. On taking over the whole project in 1839, he demolished Whitfield House and took over the four building plots adjacent to it, then built a new and much bigger Tudor-Gothic mansion on the site. Called Tudor Lodge. He built it as his own home and it was a spectacular landmark, considered one of his finest works.
1880 map, showing how the Park area actually developed, and the position of ‘Tudor Lo’.
At the tip of The Park teardrop Daukes designed and built Cornerways, an extraordinarily characterful Italianate villa, tall and narrow, cross-shaped and perched right on the junction. The rest of the park area became Fullwood Park, a public pleasure ground with sports facilities and an admission fee.
The big change Daukes made to Tudor Lodge Road, which still didn’t have a name, is that it became semi-circular rather than circular. A lane was run through to Grafton Road, and named Tudor Lodge Drive. And a large fine house was built in the central circle.
There weren’t many other houses built in the road, but it runs down the back and side of some very handsome villas, like in the top photo which shows the backs of houses in neighbouring Painswick Road, and the one below which also fronts onto Painswick Road but has a lovely walled garden in Tudor Lodge Road. All these houses, while not technically in the road itself, make it a very pleasant place to walk down.
Funnily enough, Tudor Lodge Road continued anonymous until 1891. The only name it seems to have had before that is “road to circus”, which wasn’t much use when it turned out not to be a circus.
In one of those lamentable decisions we can only look back on with incomprehension, Tudor Lodge was demolished in 1966 and replaced with modern development. A row of houses was built fronting onto The Park and another in Tudor Lodge Road on what was formerly the garden. So now the road name and the perimeter wall are all that’s left.
The area still has a Victorian charm to it though.