Royal Leamington Spa owes its existence to the discovery of the mineral springs, first recorded in 1480, whose exploitation over 200 years ago brought about its rapid growth as a spa.
The original village of Leamington as mentioned in the Domesday Book was poor and obscure. After the discovery in 1784 of a second spring in Bath Street, others were soon located, leading in total to the building of seven bathing establishments. The most luxurious of these was the Royal Baths and Pump Room. Leamington became a prosperous town where the rich and famous came to “take the waters“ and enjoy the many social facilities provided for their entertainment.
Buildings in the town south of the River Leam recall those times. Look up as you walk around the Old Town and on Bath Street you will see the facade of the Parthenon. Here when it was the Lower Assembly Rooms visitors met to see and be seen. Talks and readings were given by celebrities such as Charles Dickens, who stayed at the grand Copps Royal Hotel, now demolished.
Plaques mark the location of the many baths. The exterior of the elegant Apollo Rooms on Clemens Street, also known as Smart’s Marble Baths, remains as it was.
North of the river the splendid Pump Rooms provided extensive bathing facilities, with nearby the Pump Rooms Gardens and Jephson Gardens for the recreation of patients and visitors.
Above the entrance to the Regent Hotel, where the young Princess Victoria stayed in 1830, you will see the coat of arms of the Prince Regent.
Spa water can still be sampled from a modern drinking fountain immediately north-west of Victoria Bridge.