Winter Culture in Cheltenham

Tennyson Family Home - St James' Square

Beverley visitors said ‘Home from home, but more luxurious! Fab stay and great organic breakfasts (10/10)! Such fun regaling Old Hymerian and Beverlonian tales. Be prepared (for our return)…

After our frenzied cycle of entertainment and travel, we need to think about our own sanity at this stage and begin to plan out our own, more relaxed, programme of self-entertainment over the winter months. Aside from the much anticipated second series of Downton Abbey to come, a great deal of our amusement comes from activities in and around the town – very different from when we lived in the depths of Suffolk – beautiful, quiet and remote but only television, wireless and CDs to resort to, unless we had a day out in Cambridge.

We had already booked for the stage play of The Madness of King George during the re-opening week later this month at The Everyman Theatre on Regent Street, almost opposite the new Jamie Oliver’s Italian, and today, after returning from work, I strolled off to book opera tickets. The route took me round the back of Hanover House, through the park crossing the River Chelt, across St James’s Square (and Lord Tennyson’s house), past St Matthew’s Church (once the location of The Great House – where Handel stayed when not playing in St Mary’s Church opposite), then along St George’s Place and the Strozzi Palace (modelled on a Florentine Palace), St George’s Vaults pub and opposite the house where Jenner (of vaccination fame) was born, over the High Street and into the Brewery complex where Cineworld is located. There, I booked our New York Metropolitan Opera’s live performances to be broadcast world-wide over the winter months, including Don Giovanni, Siegfried, La Traviata and a number of other classics.  For contrast, I also booked seats for tomorrow night for the new Jane Eyre film, which has just arrived – another classic tale that has had a good write-up – and the trailers look spectacular.

Our biggest problem in Cheltenham is being spoilt for choice as there is a near over-abundance of good quality entertainment in the area – not just highbrow stuff either, as now the quieter so-called summer is over, the local population has a full programme of events in the Town Hall, Everyman and Playhouse theatres (including the traditional Christmas Pantomime). And that’s not even to mention out-of-town events in places such as Malvern, Stratford, Bristol, Oxford and Bath, all within easy drive.  Of those, we have yet to plan or fit in the Advent Service in Bath, Christmas Candlelit concert in Exeter College Chapel Oxford and a ‘Messiah‘ in a local cathedral or abbey…

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