The Town That Knew Too Much: The Devil's Chimney

Jul 21, 2021, 06:00 AM

Tucked away in a scenic corner of the Cotswolds, you'll find the Regency spa town of Cheltenham. It could be more English: from royal visits to Jane Austen re-enactments, it has everything an outsider would want from a quaint British town. But scratch beneath the surface and you'll find something quite different...

In this episode we look at the history of Cheltenham and how burbling subterranean water springs set in motion a trajectory that would lead the town to become the centre of modern espionage. And, along the way, we'll look at Holy Wells, rat catchers, a minotaur's penis, and a protruding limestone outcrop known locally as the Devil's Chimney...

Contributors to this episode: Anna Leszkiewicz, Phil Cox, Jill Waller, Geoff Dyer, Dr John Harcup, Catherine Curzon, Sophie Ryder, Richard Aldrich, Sir David Omand.

This is the first episode of The Town That Knew Too Much, written, produced and presented by Nick Hilton.

The music is by George Jennings, based on The Planets by Gustav Holst. The entire score for the series is available to stream on Spotify.

This is the first part of a 7-part series available on all good podcast platforms. You can find out more about the show on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – just go to @thetownpod – or visit for episode notes and more information. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please go to your podcast producer and leave a rating and review.

The Town That Knew Too Much is a Podot podcast, for more information visit