LEAMINGTON PRIORS - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"LEAMINGTON PRIORS, (or Royal Leamington Spa), a parish, market town, and inland watering-place, in the Kenilworth division of the hundred of Knightlow, county Warwick, 2 miles S.E. of Warwick, and 91 N.W. of London by road, or 97¾ by the London and North-Western railway, and 105½ by the Great Western railway. The goods station of the North-Western railway is situated in the adjoining parish of Milverton, where is also a station on the Leamington and Coventry line. Previous to the commencement of the present century it was a small agricultural village, but is now a flourishing town.

In the Saxon times it formed part of the demesnes of the powerful Danish Earl, Thurkil, or Turchil, of Warwick, and after the Norman Conquest came to Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury. In 1160 it was given to Kenilworth Priory, from which circumstance it derives the adjunct Priors, which distinguishes it from Leamington-Hastings. At the dissolution of monasteries, in 1539, it was seized by Henry VIII., and retained by the crown till the reign of Elizabeth, who conferred it on Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick; but he dying without issue in 1567, it again became crown property, and was given with Warwick Castle, by James I., to Sir Fulke Greville, afterwards created Lord Brooke; since which time the estates have been possessed by various proprietors.

Its mineral waters were noticed by Sir William Dugdale, in his history of the county, and were analysed, but very imperfectly, as early as 1688. Towards the close of the 18th century Drs. Kerr and Lambe called attention to the valuable medicinal qualities of this spa. But it was not till long after this time that the place rose into importance. In 1811 the parish contained only 60 houses, and 643 inhabitants. Its growth has since been very rapid, as is shown by the following census returns: in 1821, 2,183 persons; in 1831, 7,209; in 1841, 12,864; in 1851, 15,692; and in 1861, 17,958, exclusive of that part of the town situated in the parish of Milverton, which contains nearly 2,000 more.

The town, which consists of spacious well-paved streets, terraces, squares, crescents, and parades, stands in a fine country, in an open vale sheltered by wooded hills. It is separated into two parts, called the Old and New Town, by the river Leam, which joins the Avon about a mile below the town, and is here crossed by a stone bridge. The soil on which it is built is dry and absorbent, with New Red sandstone subsoil, through which the waters of the twelve springs percolate.

These springs are saline, sulphureous, and chalybeate, containing nearly the same ingredients, but varying in proportion. The analysis, as made by Dr. Loudon, shows the proportion of salts in an imperial pint of each:

                     Sulphureous  Chalybeate    Old
                        spring     and saline  spring.
Oxygen                    .025        .025       .075
Azote                     .425        .565       .587
Carbonic acid            3.156       2.162      2.103
Sulphuretted hydrogen    1.144        . .        . .
Sulphate of soda        28.065      30.610     40.398
Chloride of sodium      25.605      42.922     20.561
Chloride of calcium     15.777      17.987     20.561
Chloride of magnesium    9.695      10.813      3.266
Silica                    ..         0.972       . .
Peroxide of iron        a trace      0.262       . .
Total of salt in grains 79.142     103.575    105.095

And in some instances traces of iodine and bromine. The ordinary season for using the waters is from May to October, when the town is thronged with visitors of all classes, including many of the aristocracy and gentry, and persons from the Continent and America, who esteem this as the best spa in England.

The hotels and lodging-houses are numerous, and built on a scale suited to the requirements of the visitors. The principal are, the Regent Royal Hotel, on the Lower Parade, erected in 1819, at the cost of £25,000, and recently refitted and enlarged-it has attached to it a mews affording accommodation for over 100 horses and carriages; the Clarendon Hotel, situated at the top of Lansdown Place, in the most fashionable part of the town, and resorted to principally by the aristocracy; the Bath Family and Commercial Hotel, with extensive billiard-rooms, bowling-green, and quoit-ground; besides numerous other hotels on a more moderate scale.

The most conspicuous buildings in the town are the bath-houses and pump-rooms. These establishments have hot, cold, vapour, and shower baths and pump-rooms. The old well, or spring, noticed by Camden, has a pump-room over it, standing to the W. of the church in Bath-street. The Royal Spa, built at the cost of near £25,000, stands near the extremity of the Lower Parade, on the N. side of the river Leam: it is a massive structure of stone about 160 feet in length, ornamented in front with a colonnade of Doric columns, and containing a lofty pump-room and 15 baths, consisting of all kinds, besides two reserved for the use of the Leamington hospital.

The Victoria Baths, situated in Victoria-terrace, have a frontage of 112 feet facing the river Leam, and are adorned with a colonnade running the whole length of the building. Wood's Baths, situated in Bath-street, consist of warm and cold mineral water baths, also vapour and hot-air baths. Hudson's Baths, in High-street, are warm, sulphur, and warm and cold saline baths. Oldham's open-air swimming-baths, near Leam-terrace, are not saline, but are fitted up with every convenience for the enjoyment of the healthful recreation of swimming.

The other public buildings are the Warneford Hospital and General Bathing Institution, founded in 1832, mainly through the munificence of Dr. Warneford, who contributed £2,625 for that purpose; the townhall, and police station, in High-street, built in 1831, where the town commissioners meet on the first and third Tuesday in each month, and the county magistrates hold petty sessions every Wednesday. The Proprietary College, in Binswood-crescent, is a spacious and substantial brick edifice in the Tudor collegiate style of architecture, erected in 1817; it has a front 155 feet long, and contains a great hall 90 feet long by 31 high, besides numerous class-rooms and offices. It is in connection with the Church of England, and trains pupils for the army and navy.

There are a literary and scientific institution; a free public library and reading-room, established in 1857; two assembly rooms; a theatre, in Clement-street, built in 1849; music-hall, in Bath-street; female penitentiary; Young Girls' Daily Home, in Queen-street, instituted in 1854; military stores and armoury, with houses for the commander and quartermaster, in Radford-road; spacious tennis and racket courts, opened in 1847; temperance hall, in Warwick-street, where public meetings, concerts, and assemblies are held; museum; and public gardens, with a Corinthian temple containing the bust of Dr. Jephson.

These last are situated near the bottom of the Lower Parade, and are laid out with gravel walks fringed with flowers and shrubs, and adorned with a large artificial lake. Here, during the summer season, a band of music performs daily; also archery fêtes, galas, and horticultural exhibitions are held. At a short distance from the town, in the Tachbrook-road, is an extensive garden open to the public, known as the Arboretum and Pinetum, stocked with exotic trees, chiefly of the coniferous kind. On the Whitnash-road is the town cemetery, with a little chapel. The shops are numerous and well supplied, doing a good retail business; but there are no manufactures, excepting the iron foundries where the celebrated Leamington kitcheners are made, and an extensive brewery.

The cleansing, lighting, paving, and police of the town are entrusted to a local board of health, established by Act of Parliament in 1852. In the immediate vicinity are villa residences, the numbers of which are increasing every year. The town supports two weekly newspapers, the Leamington Advertiser and the Royal Leamington Spa Courier - the former published on Thursday, the latter on Saturday. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Worcester, value £255. The parish church of All Saints is a stone structure with a tower surmounted by a spire and containing six bells. Besides the parish church there are several new district churches - that of St. Mary is a brick edifice faced with Roman cement, standing in the Radford-road; Trinity proprietary chapel, in Beauchamp-square, is a cruciform structure of stone erected in 1847; Christ Church is also a proprietary church situated in Beauchamp-square; St. Luke's Episcopal chapel is a modern edifice situated in Augusta-place; Milverton Episcopal chapel, situated on Milverton Hill, is also proprietary. The Roman Catholics have a little church in George-street, built after the model of the Ionic temple of Hissus. There are also places of worship belonging to the several denominations of Protestant Dissenters, including Independent, Baptist, Congregational, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodists, Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, and Plymouth Brethren.

The schools are numerous and well supported, comprising several National, parochial, British, infant, industrial, Catholic, Independent, Wesleyan, and a school for the indigent blind. The charities and benevolent institutions are very numerous, comprising almshouses, visiting societies, clothing funds, penitentiaries, &c. A customary market for provisions is held on Wednesday. The ladies of Leamington contribute £52 10s. to the sweepstakes at Warwick races, and the gentlemen subscribe for a cup of the same value to be run for.


[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]