Our fancy new home
So here we are, with a new store in the grounds of one of the most famous buildings in the country. Be rude not to take you on a tour of our fancy new home.
The land on which Cowley Manor stands was originally owned by the Kings of England, until, in the 16th century, it passed to the Brett family where it remained until one member squandered the family fortune by over-indulging his passion for bell-ringing. Several owners later, the estate was snapped up by Sir James Horlick, the Malted Milk magnate, in 1890. Employing architect R.A. Briggs, he set about a vast building and landscaping programme.
Based on the Villa Borghese in Rome, an enormous, elaborate ballroom was incorporated (sadly no longer there today), as was a major spa complex with Roman, Greek and Turkish steam rooms. The Stable Block (where you'll find us) was built to house Sir James’s magnificent coaches and horses - the finest in the Cotswolds.
Over the course of three years, a whopping thousand trees a day were planted and cascades, follies, fountains and statues added to the gardens. Lewis Carroll was a regular visitor and local history has it that he was sitting at the top of the avenue of trees when he saw a rabbit disappear down a hole, providing the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
During the Second World War, Cowley was requisitioned to house the Cheltenham Ladies College – as a safe haven, as it was thought the Luftwaffe would find it difficult to launch raids down the narrow Churn valley. This proved to be correct, and the fine ladies of the College survived the War fully intact.
After the War, Cowley Manor fell into something of a decline with most of the original fittings and fixtures in the house and in the garden ripped out or allowed to disintegrate by the local council. It was bought by Peter and Jessica Frankopan in 1999 and over the next three years, Cowley Manor was scrupulously restored and rebuilt into the award-winning hotel that stands today.