Holst Birthplace Museum

Holst Birthplace Museum
4 Clarence Road
GL52 2AY






Education and events



01242 524846

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
Exterior of the Holst Birthplace Museum - a small terraced Regency house built in about 1830.
Guided tours icon Shop icon Library icon Study area icon Visual disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

The Holst Birthplace Museum aims to celebrate the life and works of Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets. The museum was opened by Holst's daughter Imogen in 1975. Built in 1832, the birthplace is a mid-terrace townhouse of typical Regency style, retaining original nineteenth century features. Special events - Victorian Days, music lectures, children's activities - happen throughout the year. There is a specialist shop for Holst's music on CD.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

11 February to 30 June, 1 Oct to mid Dec: Tues to Sat 10.00 - 16.00, Closed Sun & Mon.
1 July to 30 September: Tues to Sat 10.00 - 17.00, Sun 13.30 - 17.00. Closed Mon.
Open Bank Holidays. Open for the Heritage Open Weekend.

Pre-booked groups can sometimes be accommodated on closed days.

Admission charges

Adults: £5.00
Concessions: £4.50
Family Ticket: £12.00 (2+3)
Child £2.00
under 5 free
Museum Association Members: Free
Art Fund Members: Free


  • Museums Association

Additional info

Due to the character of the building it is regretted that access is difficult for wheelchair users. There are 3 steps up to the front door and staircases to all floors in the building (basement to second floor). There is no lift but there is a handrail for all stairs except the entrance steps.

Holst's piano, family items and extensive printed archive of photographs and ephemera. Holst's music is played in the Music Room. Also paintings by Fuseli's pupil Theodor von Holst (1810-44). The extensive social history collection of domestic items is displayed in period room settings: Regency drawing room, Victorian bedroom, Edwardian nursery and a working c.1880s basement of kitchen, scullery, larder and servants' rooms.

Collection details

Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Music, Personalities, Photography, Social History, Toys and Hobbies

Key artists and exhibits

  • Gustav Holst's Collard and Collard piano; paintings by Theodor von Holst.
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

PJ Crook’s Planets.

  • 16 June — 19 October 2014 *on now

To celebrate 100 Years of The Planets, Cheltenham-born artist PJ Crook has created seven individual paintings of each of the planets in Holst’s Suite.

The public will have the opportunity to bid for the paintings with all proceeds going to the Holst Birthplace Museum. More details about how to make a bid will be available soon.

The Holst Birthplace Museum is very grateful to PJ Crook for donating these very special paintings for the centenary year.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Normal museum entry admission applies
Adult £5.00 Concession £4.50 Child £2.00 Under 5 free
Family ticket £12.00

The Planets 1914 – 2014 Centenary Exhibition

  • 28 June — 12 October 2014 *on now

Discover how Holst composed his greatest work through items on loan from The Bodleian Library, The British Library, The Royal College of Music, The Britten-Pears Library and The Holst Birthplace Museum. Includes the original manuscript of 'The Planets'.

The 1974 Holst centenary celebrations included a
number of important exhibitions such as the one
in Cheltenham which eventually led to the
establishment of the Holst Birthplace Museum.
There was also a major exhibition at the Royal
Festival Hall in London which displayed a range of
original archive material, much of which was still
in the possession of Imogen Holst. Since then
many of Holst’s most important autograph
manuscripts, letters, notebooks and diaries have
not been exhibited together as they are now held
in a number of different libraries and museums.

However as part of the centenary celebrations,
the Holst Birthplace Museum has brought together
some of the most significant material relating to
The Planets since the London centenary
exhibition. The Museum has borrowed from
the Bodleian Library, the British Library, the
Royal College of Music and the Britten-Pears
Foundation. Highlights include Mars and Neptune
from the original orchestral manuscript of The
Planets which belongs to the Bodleian Library.
Manuscripts of the two-piano version are also
on show, an important inclusion as they actually
pre-date the Bodleian items. Holst initially worked
out his masterpiece on the piano with help from
his colleagues at St Paul’s Girls’ School, namely
Vally Lasker and Nora Day.

Insights into Holst’s interests in astrology and the
esoteric can be gleaned from his notebooks which
are being lent by the Britten-Pears Foundation.
The notebooks include pages on creating
horoscopes and lists of books on mysticism.
Letters are also on show, revealing much about
Holst’s thinking generally and with regard to the
development of The Planets. A fascinating letter to
his wife Isobel reveals the extent to which he was
drawn to astrology on a personal level. Writing
from Salonica in 1918 he states: "The most
wonderful thing of this sort is that on May 3rd
I saw the moon and Venus in conjunction shining
over the sea of Marmon. It was perfectly beautiful
and on looking at my book I found that they were
both on Imogen’s ascendant! She ought to be
flourishing!" The fact that The Planets had nothing
to do with Greek Mythology was also emphasised
by Holst in a letter to Edwin Evans where he
writes: "The Greek and Roman legends about
Gods have nothing to do with the planets and I
was a bit annoyed by certain critics dragging in
details about Zeus".

It has taken over 18 months to research, select
and organise the exhibition with much effort taken
to ensure that the Museum has a suitable cabinet
to house the very important Bodleian
manuscripts! The need for the items to be
displayed properly has led to the building of a
brand new exhibition case complete with pull-out
drawers. It is fitting that such an important
celebration will have a lasting legacy in the form
of transforming the Museum’s existing exhibition

Together with the launch of the Planets Listening
Trail at the beginning of May, the exhibition The
Planets 2014 makes this summer the ideal
opportunity to visit the Museum to discover more
about Holst’s most famous work.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly


Normal museum entry admission applies
Adult £5.00 Concession £4.50 Child £2.00 Under 5 free
Family ticket £12.00

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Planets Listening Trail

  • 16 June — 12 October 2014 *on now

Get to know The Planets, one of the most popular classical music pieces ever written by completing the Planets listening trail around Cheltenham.

It’s 100 years since Cheltenham-born composer Gustav Holst began composing his most famous piece of music, The Planets. To inspire a new generation to listen to the wonders of The Planets the Holst Birthplace Museum has created this special trail.

There are seven movements in The Planets: Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Seven listening posts have been installed across Cheltenham in places connected with Gustav Holst and his family

The Holst Birthplace Museum,
All Saints’ Church,
the Wilson Art Gallery and Museum,
The Everyman Theatre,
Cheltenham Town Hall,
Lloyds Bank at the Rotunda
Lloyds Bank High Street.

The posts include a solar powered ‘mythophone’, two 1930s vintage telephones and three 1930s inspired listening booths!
The trail takes around two hours to complete on foot and is an excellent way of getting to know not only The Planets, but also Cheltenham itself. You can begin the trail at any of the posts. The music is from a Hyperion Records recording of the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder. An additional vintage recording of Holst himself conducting The London Symphony Orchestra in 1922 can be heard on the second button.
The Holst Museum would like to thank all the funders for making this project possible and also the venues for their help and enthusiasm in hosting a listening post.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Normal museum entry admission applies to Holst Birthplace Museum. Other venues have no charge.

Adult £5.00
Concession £4.50
Child £2.00
Under 5 free
Family ticket £12.00