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Leamington Priors in 1843

Leamington Priors is in the Kenilworth division of Knightlow hundred. Its importance is quite of modern date, and is owing to its mineral waters, the existence of which was noticed by Camden and Dugdale, but the valuable medicinal qualities of which were brought into notice by Dr. Kerr of Northampton in 1784, whose recommendation attracted a few patients, and more prominently by Dr. Lambe, about the year 1797. The parish has an area of 1,720 acres, and contained, in 1831, 1,193 houses, namely 1,003 inhabited, 139 uninhabited, and 51 building ; with a population of 1,039 families, or 6,209 persons, a very small part of which was agricultural. The town is 90 miles north-west of the General Post-office, London, and two miles east of Warwick. It is situated in the valley of the Leam, in a situation sheltered by gentle and well-wooded declivities ; and consists of two parts, the old town and the new town, separated from each other by the lawn, gardens, and shrubberies of the Royal Spa, and by the river Leam, which joins the Avon about a mile below the town. Leamington contains a number of new streets regularly laid out, well paved, and lighted with gas, chiefly in the New Town, which is on the north side of the river, over which is a handsome stone bridge. The old well or spring noticed by Camden has a neat pump-room erected over it. Since 1784 new springs have been discovered, and in connection with these other establishments, for drinking the waters or bathing, of which the Royal Spa is the principal, have been formed in different parts of the town. These establishments have hot, cold, vapour, and shower baths, and pump-rooms. There are a number of handsome hotels and lodging-houses, and many elegant private houses, chiefly fronted with Roman cement. There is a handsome building comprehending a public library, and reading-rooms, with an assembly-room above ; another assembly-room has card, music, billiard, and refreshment rooms attached ; and there are a museum and picture-gallery ; a theatre ; a public promenade called the Ranelagh Gardens ; a botanical garden ; a parish church, which retains some old portions amid various mutilations and alterations ; a modern episcopal chapel (St. Mary’s) : places of worship for Independents, Methodists, and Roman Catholics ; a national school ; and baths for the poor. A market is held on Wednesday. The Warwick and Napton Canal passes through the Old Town, and enables the inhabitants to obtain coals at a reasonable price from the neighbourhood of Birmingham.

The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £255 : the value of the perpetual curacy of St. Mary’s Chapel is not given. The parish is in the rural deanery of Stonely, in the archdeaconry of Coventry and in the diocese of Worcester. There were in the parish, in 1833, four dame-schools with 60 children, namely, 30 boys and 30 girls ; a day and Sunday national-school with 154 children, namely 100 boys and 54 girls ; and twenty other day or boarding and day-schools with 512 children, namely, 231 boys and 281 girls ; making a total of 726 scholars, or two in seventeen of the population under daily instruction. There were at the same time three Sunday-schools with 310 scholars, of sex not stated in the returns, giving one in twenty of the population under instruction on Sunday.