In the eighteenth century, when society's passion for 'taking the waters' coincided with increasingly dangerous continental travel, Cheltenham's chalybeate springs were endowed with almost magical curative qualities by speculators anxious to emulate Bath's legendary sucess. In what was still an obscure agricultural community below the Cotswold Hills a cabal of entrepreneurs raised fancy pump rooms in which the great and the good might dance and flirt. With George III's visit Cheltenham became the most fashionable resort in England, where wealthy arrivals were greeted by a band in the street and deposed European royalty (carrying bloodied momentoes) took refuge. The Duke of Wellington danced in what is now Lloyds bank and William Cobbett came to sneer at 'the lame and lazy, the gourmandising and guzzling.' In this entertaining and beautifully illustrated book, Stephen Morris captures the essence of the town: its creamy-white villas and elegant avenues, its modest but lovely streets and its extraordinary history.