Leamington, or Royal Leamington Spa to use its full name, is one of my favourite English towns, and is often overlooked by visitors travelling to nearby Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Royal Leamington Spa is a spa town built mainly during the 19th century. The town was visited by Queen Victoria in 1838, and was given the "Royal" status. Leamington's main architectural characterisitic is it's wide main streets, with elegant Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings, many lined with trees.
The town, originally known as Leamington Priors was a tiny village until about 1800. The value of the mineral springs was known in the middle ages, but it was not until 1784 that the small village began rediscovering its saline springs and started building baths around some of them.
In July 1814 'The Royal Pump Room and Baths', designed and built by C.S. Smith of Warwick at a cost of £30,000 were officially opened. The Spa treatment was claimed to cure, or relieve a huge number of disorders, examples being 'stiffness of tendons', 'rigidity of the joints', 'the effects of gout and rheumatism and various paralytic conditions'.
The Pump Rooms are now used as an Art Gallery, Museum and Library, along with a Tourist Information Centre and Café.
The Pump Rooms gardens were originally laid out and enclosed for the exclusive use of the patrons of the Pump Room 'to afford them pleasant promenades'. A bandstand was erected and military bands played in the evening during the summer for the gratification of the subscribers. It was not until 1875 that the Royal Pump Room Gardens became public.
The Jephson Gardens are the centre-piece of a sequence of 19th century parks beside the River Leam in Regency and Victorian Leamington Spa. The whole group is accorded a Grade II in the English Heritage Register of Historic Gardens. The Gardens themselves have long been famous for their floral displays, beautiful and unusual trees, fountains and quiet riverbanks. Among their admirers was the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who described them in 'Our Old Home'.
The Town Hall and War Memorial
Examples of old and new shopping arcades; The Regency Arcade
And the new modern shopping centre;
(apologies for the quality of some of the photos - I couldn't find my camera so had to use my phone)