A Blue Plaque Application ‘Elgarly’ Progressed!


Edward and Alice Elgar

(Hanover House is) ‘A great place for a great reunion – thank you both for your warm welcome‘ – ex-BFPO teachers having a reunion from ‘North, South, East and West’.

Things are moving along the path of our attempt to gain a Cheltenham Civic Society Blue Plaque for Hanover House (www.hanoverhouse.org) to commemorate the residence here of Caroline Alice Roberts in 1861, when she was only 12 years old. Caroline Alice, who later became Lady Alice Elgar (funnily enough calling her only daughter ‘Carice’ as an amalgamation of her own two Christian names), would have been schooled in the house as well as live there with her mother, Lady Roberts and brother Stanley Napier (always known as Napier). Although Napier’s school, Cheltenham College, was designed for boarding, in 1861 it must still have had a high proportion of ‘day’ boys from the local area. Lady Roberts clearly liked having her son home with her – hence her occupation of 4 York Terrace to enable Napier to live at home in the evenings and at weekends. 

Having looked for sponsorship from Cheltenham College as the alma mater of Alice’s two elder brothers, but having been refused on the grounds of their having to increasingly tighten belts, I applied to the Elgar Society.  The Society fortunately showed great interest and once my letter and supporting information had been passed to the South West Branch of the Society based in Bristol, I received a most encouraging letter offering support for the application. So a formal bid has now gone forward to the Civic Society and I await their response with interest.

Michael Butterfield of the South Western Branch of the Elgar Society, wrote that in general he found that his interest in exploring new places was greatly enhanced by blue plaques, of which there are a large number in cities such as Bath and Bristol in the west (and of course London in the south-east). Cheltenham too is beginning to grow a goodly crop, as many interesting and historic characters have lived here, albeit sometimes briefly. When Michael comes to Cheltenham for the Music Festival next year he will make a point of identifying 4 York Terrace, now also known as ‘Hanover House’ – hopefully by its Blue Plaque. Either way, he will be very welcome to come and have a look round.

For those who are interested in ‘Blue Plaque’ exploration, an interesting book titled ‘Commemorative Plaques of Cheltenham’ was published in 2009, written by local historians Peter Smith and Sue Rowbotham, and is available from the Tourist Information Centre amongst other places. Hopefully, if we gain the Plaque Committee’s approval,  Hanover House may feature in a future edition.

Should, however, this application fail for any reason, like ‘Blackadder’, I have a ‘cunning plan…’

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