Leamington, or Leamington-Priors (All Saints)

LEAMINGTON, or Leamington-Priors (All Saints), a parish, and fashionable watering-place, in the union of Warwick, Kenilworth division of the hundred of Knightlow, S. division of the county of Warwick, 2½ miles (E.) from Warwick, and 90 (N. W.) from London; containing 12,864 inhabitants. This place derives its second name from the river Leam, on which it stands, and from its having belonged to the priory of Kenilworth. It is beautifully situated in a fine open vale, surrounded by gentle acclivities richly clothed with wood; and the river Leam, over which is a handsome stone bridge connecting the old with the new town, and the river Avon, both wind through the adjoining meadows. From an inconsiderable hamlet consisting only of a few cottages, it has, on account of the celebrity of its mineral springs, risen with unprecedented rapidity, within the present century, into a large and populous town; and the peculiar mildness of the temperature, and the salubrity of the air, contribute greatly to augment the number of its permanent residents. The mineral springs are of three kinds, viz., sulphureous, saline, and chalybeate: the water of the sulphureous spring, according to the analysis of Dr. Loudon, contains sulphuric acid, magnesia, chlorine, soda, and lime, and the gases are oxygen, azote, carbonic acid, and sulphuretted hydrogen. The saline water contains chlorine, lime, sulphuric acid, magnesia, silica, peroxyde of iron, and soda, and the gases are oxygen, azote, and carbonic acid: the chalybeate water differs from the saline chiefly in the proportions of its several ingredients.

The spring first discovered, now called the Old Well, is described by Camden, Speed, and Dugdale. Its water was analyzed in 1688, and it was lately inclosed by the Earl of Aylesford, who erected a neat pump-room over it, containing a marble fount, from which a pipe is conducted on the outside of the building, for the use of the poor. The second spring, where Smith's baths now stand, was discovered in 1784, by Mr. Abbots, who erected six warm baths, a cold bath, and shower baths. The Imperial Fount and Marble Baths, in Clemensstreet, contain a complete arrangement of hot, cold, sulphureous, vapour, fumigating, and shower baths, with jets d'eau for topical application, and a pump of sulphureous, saline, and chalybeate water. Wise's Baths, at the corner of Bath-street; Robbins' Baths, near the bridge; and various similar establishments, are arranged with due care; and there is also a bathing establishment for the gratuitous use of the poor. The principal baths, however, are at the Royal Spa, a handsome stone edifice, with a colonnade of the Doric order extending the whole length of the front, and having, at each end, entrances leading respectively to the gentlemen's and ladies' baths; the pump-room, which forms the centre of the building, contains an orchestra, in which a band performs during the hours of attendance. This structure forms one of the chief ornaments of the town, and is situated on the bank of the Leam. In proportion to the number and rank of the visiters are the hotels provided for their accommodation, and there are numerous private boarding and lodging houses.

The Town is well paved, and lighted with gas, under the direction of commissioners appointed by an act obtained for local purposes; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. The streets are spacious, and intersect each other at right angles; the houses are fronted with Roman cement, and many of them display elegant specimens of Grecian and other styles of architecture. A town-hall was lately erected. The public library and reading-rooms, in Bath-street, form a well-built edifice, with a colonnade of six Ionic pillars, supporting an entablature, and resting upon a piazza: above the readingrooms and library is a spacious assembly-room; the card and refreshment rooms are equally splendid, and the whole suite is admirably adapted either for public or private meetings. The Upper Assembly-Rooms, in the Union Parade, consist of a ball-room, at the end of which is a fine organ; attached are card and refreshment rooms, and the range is completed by a library and reading-room. The Warwick races, which are held in March and September, attract numerous visiters; and the Warwickshire hunt has become equally celebrated. Some public gardens were opened in May, 1846, having been purchased with funds raised to the amount of several thousand pounds, for a testimonial of gratitude to Dr. Jephson for the services rendered by him to the town. The market, which is on Wednesday, is abundantly supplied with provisions. The Warwick and Napton canal passes through the town; and the Grand Junction and Oxford canals afford facilities of conveyance to all parts of the kingdom. A railway was opened in 1845 from Coventry to a point between Warwick and Leamington; and in 1846 an act was passed for extending the line, at Leamington, three-quarters of a mile. In the latter year, also, an act was obtained for a railway to Rugby, 14½ miles in length. The parish consists of 1072 acres of productive land.

The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £6. 10.; net income, £255; patron, the Rev. Henry Wise; impropriator, the Earl of Aylesford. The church, an ancient structure in the decorated English style, with a tower, was lately considerably enlarged, and a spire added; but it still retains externally much of its original character. The episcopal chapel in the upper part of the town, erected at the expense of the late vicar, is professedly after the Norman model, and in many respects the details of that style have been imitated. St. Mary's chapel, erected in 1839, is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles; it is adapted for a congregation of 900 persons, and the patronage is exercised by Trustees. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics; the last having a full-length figure of St. Peter in a niche over the entrance. Leamington College, of which the Bishop of Worcester is visiter, and Dr. Jephson president, is under a proprietary; and has an exhibition called the Jephson exhibition, of the value of £50 per annum, and tenable for three years, either at Oxford or Cambridge. The hospital here, occupying a site given by the Earl of Aylesford, who is lord of the manor, was erected by the munificent donations of the Rev. Dr. Warneford, aided by subscriptions. There are various bequests for the poor.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.