A small gem at the edge of Pittville Park in Cheltenham — the Holst Birthplace Museum. I’ve been meaning to visit for quite some time. I didn’t realize it was not only a sweet and gentle introduction to the life and work of Gustav Holst, but a beautifully presented history of Regency and Victorian homes in Cheltenham.
Enter the front hall, pay your small entry fee to one of the smiling docents, and enter the main music room, where you will see Holst’s piano, where he composed The Planets.
And examples of his compositions.
Wander downstairs, and find a Victorian scullery, and a kitchen — the range is still in working order!
A Victorian pantry.
And finally a small storage and repair room, next to a bright and cheerful working room for the lady of the house to do the accounts or for the maid of the house to catch up on sewing and mending.
Upstairs, the music room is maintained in a Regency style. Holst’s father was a music teacher, and may have taught in rooms decorated like this in any of scores of Cheltenham Regency homes. Much of the artwork through out the home was created by Holst’s great uncle Theodor Von Holst.
A close up view of the angel on that harp. The furnishings are not original to the house, but are all of the appropriate time period and held in cooperation with the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (soon to reopen as The Wilson).
In one of the main bedrooms, where it is speculated Holst may have been born, we see more Victorian decor — complete with stuffed bird in the background.
Upstairs, the servant’s room. Small, but a room of one’s own.
The Edwardian day nursery, upstairs, next to the servant’s room. The room is filled with toys — some available to today’s children of all ages to touch and explore.
Sweet needlework hangs on the walls, an example of the education given to girls in another era.
And behind the house, the current toilets sit next to the original lavatory! (“Gustav’s Lav”!)
After a stroll through history, what could be better than a walk up through Pittville Park to the Pump Room, and a taste of the famous Cheltenham Spa waters?
Hello, sir. That’s quite a pump you have there.
The Victorian pump is broken, but the water still draws up 80 feet to land in these compostable cups. And it tastes like death.
Seriously. But I drank it down, didn’t vomit, and felt not at all any healthier. But give me a week, maybe it will turn back the clock on my age, face, and brain if I just give it long enough.Oooohhhh, while I let that death water do its magic, I’m going to stare up at this gorgeous chandelier and the incredible Pump Room dome.