14 01 2009


Normanhurst is a large private house, formerly in use as a residential care home, in Christ Church Road on the corner of Eldorado Road.

I don’t know very much about this beautiful Gothic-inspired house except that it was built in 1882 by a family called Smith.

Between 1933 and 1979 it was the home of a fearsome lady magistrate, Stella Louise Ingram.


What makes this house extraordinary, as you can see, is the elaborate arrangement of oddly shaped gables and the spectacular array of figures and esoteric symbols carved in local Cotswold stone, cluttered and overwhelming but the work of a stone-carving genius. Sunbursts, lion-heads, leaves, flowers, horned shapes, animals and birds adorn every window frame and sticky-outy bit, orderly but asymmetrical, immaculately chiselled from an amazingly fertile imagination.


Around the side of the house which overlooks Eldorado Road is a series of jack-in-the-green faces. The design is more restrained along this side and the gables have simple clean lines, but the craftsmanship is equally impressive.

Normanhurst is completely unlike any of the other houses in Christ Church Road, solidly chunky brick-built villas being the norm here. But round the corner in Queen’s Road you can find a row of six villas which may have been worked on by the same craftsman. The houses themselves are nothing like Normanhurst, but above their doors they have panels of carvings (all different) which show a similar menagerie of animals and birds.

The only other place in Cheltenham I know of with similarly eccentric critter carvings (in a much less ostentatious setting) is the west side of Wellington Square, which again has a range of different animals in odd places but is a few years older, completed in 1859. Whether there’s any connection I don’t know.


Green man faces on gables on the north side.



2 responses

30 09 2012
Norma J Grundy

Re:- The Old Bakery. I recall that until not so long ago, to the left of it, in one of the remaining gardens of Royal Crescent, there was still an old brick outhouse [loo]. Someone kindly explained to me about Regency “outside plumbing”. On the theme of utility architecture, in New Street, in the little block of terraced’s heading towards the Welsh Harp, one could see, via the back alley, an original wash house; chimney, stone copper etc. It was probably still in use in the 1950s. The Old Basket Shop [LowerHigh Street] was starting to stock washboards with plastic vice tin ridgings before they tore it down for a car park. Washboards? A local woman explained to my mother about what one was and how you used it. Mother was brought up in the country and knew all about them [a primitive washing machine – went with a tub], but only said: “Wow, and I thought they were musical instruments!”

28 01 2013
Norma J Grundy

Sorry, this is the only link I can find.
It’s about Bennington arches. The Centre Stone and Hinds’ Jewellers. They seem to be rebuilds, along with the Bennington St emporia on that side. Hinds’ shop has two stories, not three, and seems not to have been re-roofed.
However, looking at the opposite side, if you can recall how things were before Town Planning ripped down everything to Henrietta St., there was a nice terrace of Georgian shops, starting with a furniture store on the LH corner and ending at Curry’s, just before the Grammar School. That furniture shop was three stories and looked like the building on the left of the Arches.

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