Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
Now part of Cheltenham College, Thirlestaine House was largely built between 1820 and 1823 by an amateur architect named James Robert Scott as his private residence. The mansion, which originally consisted only of the central portion, has been described as the most substantial private house ever built in Cheltenham. It is in the Neo-Classical style, the most notable feature being the grand portico with four fluted Ionic columns and a pediment.
The house was originally approached from two entrances on the Bath Road by means of sweeping carriage drives and was concealed behind a high brick wall. At the rear of the house was another great block containing stables, offices, a conservatory and a grapery. In addition there was a paddock for the horses, a kitchen garden and a fruit and flower garden.
Thirlestaine House came up for sale in February 1831, when it was described as a "splendid freehold mansion", “on the outskirts of Cheltenham”. The house had a grand suite of 5 rooms connected by massive double doors and a kitchen and cellars similar to those at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
It was finally bought in 1838 by John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick, the owner of Northwick Park, near Blockley. An avid collector of fine art, as a young man he spent about 11 years on a "Grand Tour" of Europe acquiring pictures and in later life was often to be seen at Christie's auction rooms in London.
Eventually Lord Northwick's art collection outgrew the available space, so he added two wings in the 1840s, making the entire length of the building about 300 feet. The gallery included works by Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, Bellini, Rubens and Velasquez and was one of the finest in collections Britain but was dispersed after his death.
Cross Bath Road and Suffolk Road at the pedestrian lights to stand in front of the Cotswold Physiotherapy Centre.
This point of interest is part of the tour: A Walk on the South Side - from Cheltenham to The Suffolks