08 May 2012

Royal Leamington Spa I

Erstwhile Newbold Gardens, which run alongside the River Leam, were originated in 1831. They opened free of charge between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., after which time they were restricted to patrons of the nearby spa bath-house, although a sunken right of way, which still exists, was provided to enable transit by the hoi polloi.

A lake was excavated in 1843, and the gardens were renamed, three years later, after Dr Henry Jephson, a promoter of the town's spa waters (which taste rather like St Yorre). A statue of Jephson sits within a Corinthian temple, before which stands the Czech Memorial Fountain, unveiled in 1968 in memory of the Czech Free Army that, during WWII, was quartered in the town.

Another philanthropist, Dr Hitchen, is memorialised by a fountain of 1869 (top). Once in the hands of the local council the gardens declined after WWII, but lottery money won in 1999 was used to successfully return them to full glory. A new sub-tropical glasshouse and restaurant was added to the gardens as part of the upgrade, a fine piece of modern architecture.

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