45/47 Clarence Street, on the corner of Chester Walk, was for a long time the Cheltenham Branch of the old Trustees Savings Bank (TSB).
Belgian Monk opened in September 1998 and was a bar offering a range of both draught and bottled Belgian Beers. The beers were expensive but Grimbergen Abbey beer was on draught and included Blond, Dubbel, Cuvee Special and Trippel.
In his ‘Pubwatch’ feature in the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ on Saturday 6th February 1999, George Henderson wrote: ‘Unlike other bars which ape an ethnic theme the Belgian Monk is the real thing. Sit here over a few glasses of ‘blonde’ and you could easily imagine yourself sitting in a back-street bar in Bruges or Antwerp. Operated as a franchise of the Belgian brewery Alken Maas in Waarloos, near Ghent, the Monk is a slice of old Belgium transported in the Cotswolds. Taste-buds used to the sort of lager beers normally on sale in the UK are in for a pleasant surprise when they sample these wonderfully nutty and clean tasting beers from Belgium. As well as the more familiar blonde beers you can also enjoy a glass of strong dark beer or even cherry beer, a great favourite with the ladies. The food is authentic Belgian fare, too, with platefuls of wild boar sausage with red cabbage and mashed potato sating the heartiest appetite. One of the hot favourites since the bar opened nearly four months ago is a pot of mussels swimming in garlic sauce and served with a bowl of chips and mayonnaise. But be warned – the beer is strong and a single portion of mussels and extra chips is usually enough the satisfy two appetites and makes an adequate light lunch for three or four.’
Following a refurbishment, the Belgian Monk re-opened on 15th June 2002. However, it closed soon after and the building remained empty for several years. In May 2005 it was thought that a firm offer had been made to lease the building with the intention of re-opening it as a pub or restaurant.
In 2006 Mark Elliott took over the lease of the building and it opened in July as a specialist bespoke furniture store. Mark Elliott Furnishings closed six years later in 2012.
45/47 Clarence Street is now the Cheltenham branch of the Boston Tea Party which opened in March 2014. Sam Roberts, managing director of Boston Tea Party, said “We have been searching for a suitable building in Cheltenham for a few years now, and after much looking, we have finally managed to find one. The building has bags of character and quirky features which will look fantastic once completed.” The café is one of 14 owned by Boston Tea Party over the south-west and serves only free-range meat and eggs as well as 100 per cent organic milk as part of its menu.