Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
About 30 or 40ft to the north of the William IV statue (Sight 11), are a set of four rusted iron hinges in the flower bed. The distance between these front hinges is approximately 7ft 9”; they had clearly been attached to substantial wooden doors at one time. The rear hinges to these doors exist at the back of the flowerbed amongst the leaf litter.
Jill Waller of Cheltenham Local History Society investigated further..
"The 1855-57 Cheltenham Old Town Survey reveals that there was once a large conservatory in the garden of No.2 Montpellier Parade. The floor plan of this hothouse was almost as big as that of the house itself, and a boiler house is indicated at the west end, beside the location of the hinges. This confirms that the wooden doors were for coal deliveries, needed by a fairly substantial boiler to heat a conservatory of that size.
"No.2 Montpellier Parade was home to Sir Alexander Ramsay, 3rd baronet, who lived at this address from c.1852 until his death in 1875. Sir Alexander Ramsay was heavily involved the life of the town; as a Conservative he was actively involved in politics, was on the Cheltenham College board of directors, where his sons were educated, took command of the Cheltenham Volunteer Rifles, became a local magistrate and JP, helped establish the Cotswolds Foxhounds, and was one of the founding directors of the Montpellier Gardens Company in 1861. The principal aim of this last scheme was to lay out and maintain the Montpellier Gardens as a place for public amusement and recreation.
"Sir Alexander Ramsay’s interests in gardening were reflected in his support of the Cheltenham Horticultural Society; he often took the chair at the annual meetings and regularly exhibited at horticultural shows in the district, presenting the produce of his garden and large conservatory.
"And the man who did all the actual work, including taking the coal deliveries? That was William Coulston, described by the Cheltenham Chronicle as ‘Sir Alexander Ramsay’s excellent gardener’.
"No.2 Montpellier Parade became the Imperial Nursing Home from 1908 and the hothouse remained in use well into the 20th century, as can be seen in the photograph below; it survived until at least the Second World War.
"By 1965 only the boiler-house remained in the garden behind the Imperial Nursing Home, the glass having been long since removed from the conservatory. By 2021 the gardens of Nos.1 and 2 Montpellier Parade had been built over as Glensanda Court. Only the hinges of the coal hatch remain in the flowerbed to remind us of the former existence of the hothouse."
Jill Waller May 2021
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Public Gardens of Cheltenham