The History of Ellenborough Park

When it comes to luxury hotels, Cheltenham has a rich provenance

From humble beginnings a tenant farmer called Thomas Goodman discovered a slightly elevated spot and decided to build his house here.Block by block, transported by horse and cart, the building began in 1485 with the Great Hall.

Described as a ‘pretty manor place’ in 1533 by the King’s Antiquary and ‘one of the greatest curiosities in the country’ in 1796 by Samuel Rudder, Ellenborough Park has held a revered position in the county’s archives for more than 500 years.

The many layers of history at Ellenborough Park are personified by the overlying centuries of oak beams, stone fireplaces and intricate stained glass that adorn the hotel. If we look at the Ellenborough era, when in 1833 the 1st Earl of Ellenborough and former Governor General of India purchased the estate as his home, you can see how this fine property gained its current name.

History recalls Earl Ellenborough for his wedding to Jane Digby, a ‘scandalous society beauty’ who was seventeen years his junior when they wed in 1824. Lady Ellenborough’s carefree joie de vivre sealed her place in history alongside her former home.

From home, to school, to hotels, Cheltenham‘s modern day Ellenborough lives on.


From 1906, the house was lived in by Mrs C M Ratcliff and her daughter, until the estate was broken up in 1927. In 1947, a Miss Bellamy opened the Oriel Private School for Girls on the site. This ran for 25 years until the school and property were sold again to become the Hotel De La Bere, which closed in 2008.

The restoration of Ellenborough Park commenced early the same year and took three years to complete. The vision was to transform a dated hotel by breathing new life into its historical elements and intersperse within it the modern luxuries of the world’s finest hotels. Having revitalised Ellenborough Park for the next chapter of its history, it would be 6 further years before Ellenborough would be altered again.

The 2017 refurbishment

In our seventh year of being Ellenborough Park, we started an extensive refurbishment. The aim of which was to not only rejuvenate the property, but to offer an experience that would delight all guests who visit the hotel. Cheltenham welcomes visitors from all over the world, and to keep our hotel at the exquisite standard that our guests expect, we made the decision to modernise and restore our public areas.

As one of the most decadent hotels in Cheltenham we understand that such restoration may strike many as juxtaposing, but here at Ellenborough Park we wanted to keep all modernisation in keeping with our history and heritage.

The refurbishment saw the hotel gain a new front entrance in the form of the original door from 1485. The brasserie transformed into our 5-star country pub, The Horse Box, and The Beaufort received a complete makeover becoming The Restaurant at Ellenborough Park. A new reception area was also created alongside our cocktail bar and lounge; The Atrium.

We are very excited about the new lease of life this refurbishment has brought – the work completed has truly complemented this beautiful and historic house.