The town was originally a tiny village called Lamintone which was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Back then it was simply a 240 acre Manor with two mills, which passed through various hands including the Earl of Warwick, the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and eventually to Geoffrey De Clinton, founder of Kenilworth Castle and Priory. His son presented the Estate to the Prior of Kenilworth, in whose name it remained for some three hundred years.
The town’s name changed over the centuries, becoming Leminton and then, in 1533 Lemynton Priors. The suffix of ‘Spa’ was probably used from the late eighteenth century, when the benefits of its saline springs were rediscovered and the building of the baths began around some of the sources. The town was honoured with its royal patronage by Queen Victoria in July 1838, and so its name became Royal Leamington Spa, as it is known today.
Back in 1783 the village was located entirely on the south of the River Leam and consisted of only 34 properties. The development of further properties to the north of the river didn’t start until the early nineteenth century when the discovery of a second mineral well on the north side helped to confirm that the development of the land would be a lucrative endeavour.
The town’s famous Pump Rooms were officially opened back in July 1814, making Spa treatment available for travellers from near and far who came to ‘take the waters,’ which was claimed to cure a huge number of disorders and ailments from stiffness of tendons to the effects of gout and rheumatism and various paralytic conditions, but by the middle of the nineteenth century the fashion for such intervention was in decline. In 1996 the Pump Rooms were taken on by Warwick District Council, in collaboration with Warwickshire County Council, and Leamington’s Art Gallery, Museum and Library were relocated to the site. It is now a major cultural and tourist attraction. Visitors to the museum can see displays about the historic use of the Pump Rooms and will also get the chance to sample the waters themselves.
The nearby Jephson Gardens are Grade II listed, and have undergone a £4.3million restoration themselves, which includes a sensory garden, refurbished boathouse, temperate glasshouse and a children’s play area. Perfect for enjoying an afternoon stroll, or why not visit the riverside restaurant or wonderfully restored Victorian tea-room.
The University of Warwick is only a bus ride away from Leamington Spa, and many of its undergraduates choose to live in Leamington, adding to the vibrant mix of backgrounds and cultures in the town. This contributes to the rich variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants to be found in the area, as the town has something to offer every visitor that passes this way.