All Saints’ came into existence because a small group of laymen were anxious to establish a church in Cheltenham where the services should be of a High Church Tractarian type, different from those usually found in the town. The foundation stone was laid on 27th December 1865, there is however, a mystery surrounding the laying of the foundation stone as despite attempts to locate it, the site is as yet unknown, although if it were laid, as tradition would dictate, in the north east corner, it may well be obscured by the later addition to the building housing the John Wood Room. The church was consecrated on 2nd November 1868 by the Rt. Revd. C. J. Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester. The Parish of All Saints’, Pittville, Cheltenham, was formed by adjusting the boundaries of two neighbouring parishes.
The building was designed by John Middleton, the architect of a number of churches in Cheltenham and built by Thomas Darby. The style is early French Gothic, executed with typical Victorian flair. It is built of Cleeve Hill stone quarried locally, with Bath stone dressings. The interior is lined with Bath stone with bands of blue Forest Stone. The shape is apsidal and the plan comprises of Chancel, Lady Chapel, Clerestoried Nave of five bays, Transepts and Aisles and a Tower at the south west angle. The Tower was originally built to a height of forty five feet, although it had been intended to build a spire of some two hundred feet in height but this was never undertaken. In 1992 the tower was completed with a gable roof, using a legacy from the Rev. John Wood a former vicar of All Saints’.
The tower contains one tenor bell.
The length of the chancel is forty five feet; the width twenty five. The nave is ninety three feet in length and twenty eight feet wide. The north aisle is seventy feet long and fourteen feet wide whilst the south aisle is made shorter by the tower projecting into it.
Within the church there is much colour and decoration, some of it inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement. Sir Edward Burne-Jones designed the rose window in the south transept. The chancel screen, the font cover, the pulpit and pulpit canopy, the organ cover, the mural at the west end (designed by Sir William Richmond executed by James Eadie Reid) and the wonderful stained glass are all worthy of note.
All Saints’ has always had a strong musical tradition and Adolph Von Holst, the Father of composer Gustav Holst (who was baptised in the church), was the first organist. It was during this time that a large three-manual instrument was erected by William Hill. The organ was completely re-built in the 1950’s by Nicholsons and emerged as a comprehensive four manual instrument.
The Church is a Grade 1 Listed building and like a number of Victorian churches, needs constant maintenance to the fabric in order to keep it in use and keep its stunning appearance.
There is a Calvary War Memorial, unveiled in June 1920, which is situated in the south west corner of the churchyard. This is Grade 2 listed in its own right.