Columbia Place

11 02 2008

It was common in Cheltenham’s heyday for terraces of houses to have their own individual names, independent of the name of the street they were in. Here we have Columbia Place (originally spelt Colombia), a beautiful terrace in Winchcombe Street, not far from the original Pittville Park gates. It’s set back from the main pavement with a sweeping crescent-shaped gravel driveway and a small segment of communal garden. It has its own pavement of flagstones alongside the drive and this has survived remarkably unspoiled.

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Photographed December 2003

The two end houses are taller than the others and handsomely pedimented, while the four in the middle have a mansard roof and stone balconies supported on pillars. They have also retained some spectacular cast iron-work (you can’t see it very well in the picture, but there are decorative iron panels in the gaps between the castellations along the top) which according to Cheltenham’s iron-work expert Amina Chatwin, are “daring and unusual … like nothing that has gone before” and “the first panels in the town to make cast iron successful in its own right”. The terrace became very dilapidated in the latter part of the 20th century and looked very sorry for itself but fortunately in the last few years it’s been lovingly restored. Not everybody has always considered it beautiful though. William Cobbett in his thorough verbal trashing of Cheltenham in Rural Rides (1830) called it “a new row of most gaudy and fantastical dwelling places”.

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Detail of cast iron ornamentation on the lower verandah

The terrace was commissioned by a cavalry equipment supplier called Thomas Thompson, whose business interests were in South America, including a lucrative salt refining business in Colombia, and he chose the name. He came to Cheltenham to take the waters and decided to build here, employing William Jay to design the terrace. Work began in 1824 and all of the six houses were complete by 1826. They were originally numbered 1-6 Colombia Place but are now 112-122 Winchcombe Street.

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4 responses

7 11 2009
Valerie Sweet

My great grandmother Maria Phillips was brought up in Columbia House by her aunt Emily Hawkins (nee Phillips) married to Daniel Hawkins an architect with an office 1 North Place. As it has been re-named Winchcombe Street I missed it and hope to visit to get a photo unless there is one available. I only discovered this from your site Thanks

25 02 2010
Shayne Gardener

My parents lived in 4 Columbia Place in 1962, when I was born. My younger brother was actually born in number 5 Columbia Place and we lived there until 1980.
I loved the house and still miss it 30 years later…

4 03 2010
cheltonia

I imagine it must have been a wonderful place to live!

24 03 2016
Valerie Wakefield

now a hairdressers 110 Winchcome St (Columbia House)

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