“There is a story here in Cheltenham. One that is seldomly told and it’s about that time to properly share it.”
Cotswold Kombucha was born in Cheltenham, UK on July 3rd 2020. As for it’s founder and owner Stephen Lee, well… not quite.
So let me get this straight, you are from Fremont, California but living in Cheltenham? What Am I missing?
Haha Yep, that’s 100% correct. Let me try and give you some bullet points so we can connect the dots here. I was born and raised in Fremont, California. Went to Arizona State University as a American Football walk on. This basically means you try out and have a better chance of turning water to wine than making it. It is a division I school and it’s stadium held over 70,000 spectators.
I was pretty driven though and found that early on if someone said I couldn’t do anything well… That was simply all I needed to get it done. After a year I realized the passion moved on and I was ready for a new challenge. I finished my degree in Tourism Development and Management and took a one way flight to New Zealand.
Basically, I heard a song on the radio… “Hope” by Fat Freddy’s Drop, and I asked my brother Eric, “where are these guys from?” He said, “New Zealand son!”
More or less, that was all I needed as I pictured this song playing on the radio, driving down empty country roads and the wind in my face, brilliant. I met my now fiancée Claudie in Queenstown and we were fortunate enough to save up a bit after a couple years and travel around the world.
That sounds like the dream. What was next then?
Well, after travelling there wasn’t much in the way of a plan. My fiancée said she had a cousin who was moving house in Cheltenham and all we needed to do was pay for council tax. I said great, sounds like a plan! Where is Cheltenham?
Fast forward through an emotional visa process and couple odd jobs later, I found myself working as a Head Concierge for the Queens Hotel. This is where I learned about Cheltenham’s rich history of being popularized as a spa town in the 1800’s. There is a story here in Cheltenham. One that is seldomly told and it’s about that time to properly share it.
So we’ve almost connected the dots here, but I think there might be a couple details missing still?
Right you are. It was through this job that The Queens Hotel (who is now managed by M Gallery Accor) prided itself on being one of the first purpose built hotels in the UK and it they made it clear that the art of storytelling was paramount.
I leaned that Cheltenham was popularised in the early 18th century as being a spa town. Not like I’m gonna take a bubble bath or jacuzzi spa type thing but more of a natural well situation where people would come here to drink the water that apparently had loads of health benefits.
It turns out there was a well that pigeons flocked to. The location of the well was in one of the Bayshill meadows, nearby to the notorious Cheltenham Ladies College is now situated.
A man by the name of Henry Skillicorne who was a Manx seaman was the proprietor and set out to exploit and expand upon a business venture that was based around the water that came from this land.