Glimpses of Paranormal Warwickshire Part 8: Leamington Spa

This is the eighth in a series of glimpses into my new book Paranormal Warwickshire which will be published by Amberley Publishing on 15th November 2020.

panoramic view early 19th century Leamington Spa photo credit Sheila Robinson Paranormal Warwickshire SC Skillman
Panoramic view of early 19th century Leamington Spa (photo credit Sheila Robinson) on display at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

Today we visit Leamington Spa, which in the 18th and 19th centuries became a fashionable Regency health spa. But it traces its origins back to the Domesday Book when it was a hamlet called Lamintone. In medieval times it was owned by Kenilworth Priory.

Leamington gained its status as a spa town following the discovery of mineral springs here : the first one being discovered in the early 1700s by the 4th Earl of Aylesford. He made the spring water available to all, free of charge. When a gentleman by the name of William Abbotts discovered a second mineral spring on his land in 1784, he set up a bath house called Abbott’s Bath. But it was his friend Benjamin Satchwell who changed everything. He wrote a glowing account about the healing properties of his friend’s well. His account was published and circulated through London society: and soon, wealthy and influential visitors began to head for Leamington in the Prince Regent stagecoach.

When the star of the gossip columns, the Duchess of Gordon, arrived in 1808, the town’s fashionable status was sealed.

Leamington also drew its fame from the presence of an illustrious medical man, Dr Henry Jephson, who met the medical needs of the wealthy and offered his own personal free health service for the poor, and who is now celebrated in the lovely Jephson Gardens.

Jephson Gardens Leamington Spa photo credit Sheila Robinson Paranormal Warwickshire SC Skillman
A view of Jephson Gardens Leamington Spa (photo credit Sheila Robinson)

When the eleven year old Princess Victoria visited the town in 1830, she was delighted with all she found; and later, after becoming Queen, she was ‘graciously pleased’ to bestow upon the town the status which entitled it town to become known as Royal Leamington Spa.

The status of the town had changed by 1880, when those glorious spa days were almost over; for the arrival of the railways had brought travel within the means of many, including those of more modest means: and even the fashionable were then choosing to visit the seaside resorts rather than the spa towns.

Victoria House Leamington Spa photo credit Sheila Robinson Paranormal Warwickshire SC Skillman
Victoria House Leamington Spa (photo credit Sheila Robinson)

Leamington Spa by no means lacks strange tales. In my book Paranormal Warwickshire I share the details of several curious experiences in such places as Victoria House, an elegant building constructed in 1835, which has seen a variety of different occupants including the Freemasons, and (during the Second World War), soldiers from the Polish and Czech armies in exile.

Historical plaque Leamington Spa Railway Station photo credit Sheila Robinson Paranormal Warwickshire SC Skillman
Historical plaque Leamington Spa Railway Station (photo credit Sheila Robinson)

Many eerie experiences, too, are recorded at Leamington Spa railway station. I share several stories told by the night-time security officer. You can find out more in Paranormal Warwickshire, coming out in November 2020.

Platform 1 night Leamington Spa railway station photo credit Jamie Robinson Paranormal Warwickshire SC Skillman
Platforms 1 & 2 at night Leamington Spa railway station (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

Do check out my other posts in this series, which I began on 14th August 2020 with Shakespeare’s Ghosts and Spirits, and which brings us up to the publication date of my book Paranormal Warwickshire – 15th November 2020.

Warwick Castle

Guy’s Cliffe, Warwick

Gaveston’s Cross and the Saxon Mill, Warwick

St Mary’s Warwick

Kenilworth Castle

Abbey Fields, Kenilworth

The other posts in the series will cover the following locations:

St Michael’s Church, Baddesley Clinton

Stoneleigh Abbey

Thomas Oken’s House, and the Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick

Rugby Theatre and other Rugby locations

Nuneaton locations

Ettington Park Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon

Coughton Court, Alcester

You can pre-order Paranormal Warwickshire here.

Joyful Atmosphere at the Leamington Spa Peace Festival June 2018

Each year in June the Peace Festival is held in the Royal Pump Room Gardens in Leamington Spa. Leamington Spa Peace Festival viewA colourful and eclectic mix of stallholders, different religious and activist and local community groups, musicians, street food vendors, and sellers of vibrant gypsy, bohemian and ethnic clothes, hats, bag and jewellery all converge on the gardens.

Kate's Story Tree at Leamington Spa Peace Festival

The result is a vibrant, joyful festival lasting two days, spreading goodwill and the message of peaceful co-existence, mutual understanding and acceptance of our fellow human beings in all our diversity.

Einstein quote at Leamington Spa Peace Festival

The local community choir Songlines conducted by our enthusiastic maestro Bruce Knight sang a cross-cultural set of songs which included fantastic gospel songs Egalile, I’m on My Way to Canaan Land, and Done Made My Vow to the Lord, along with community choir arrangements of I’m Still Standing by Elton John, Like a Hurricane by Neil Young, and the uplifting and moving song Hey Brother by Avicii.

The Leamington Spa Peace Festival is run, amazingly, by volunteers, and they do a brilliant job of organising this event. Long may the Peace Festival return to Leamington Spa each year.

Save the Pixies at Leamington Spa Peace Festival

 

Come and See Me at Costa Coffee in Royal Priors Leamington Spa on Fri 24 June and Buy a Signed Copy of Mystical Circles And A Passionate Spirit

I had a great time at the Leamington Peace Festival over the weekend, and enjoyed chatting to many interesting people at my local author stall.

cropped image of my booksigning tableNot only did I sell some books to keen readers, and meet someone who was uncannily like one of my characters in Mystical Circles, who asked me for advice on how to start his own book, but also had a conversation about the paranormal involving a dog and the council and several fast-disappearing residents from a Birmingham house, which gave me ideas for future use in a novel!20160618_105109-1.jpg

I’d love to see you on Friday 24 June 11am to 2pm in Costa Coffee,  Royal Priors, Leamington Spa, where again I’ll be selling signed copies of both novels. Do drop in if you’re in Leamington that day!

 

 

 

 

 

Standing Ovations and Encores for Songlines Community Choir in Leamington Spa

On Saturday night 7 December 2013 our local community choir, Songlines, conducted by Bruce Knight, gave  a concert at St Mary’s  Church, in Leamington Spa, to raise money for Water Aid.

Bruce Knight conducting Songlines Community Choir in a performance of Nkosi Sikelelik 'lAfrika in St Mary's Church Leamington Spa on Saturday  7 December 2013
Bruce Knight conducting Songlines Community Choir in a performance of Nkosi Sikelelik ‘lAfrika in St Mary’s Church Leamington Spa on Saturday 7 December 2013

It was a night where we saw and felt the power of music to bring joy and to uplift.

A standing ovation and calls for an encore confirmed this.

Our programme encompassed community choir arrangements of the moving Zulu song Egalile, full of exhuberant synchronized movements, including our well-rehearsed African shuffle; Let the River Run by Carly Simon, Sunday Morning by Reed & Cale, arr.Knight; the Beatles’ song Nowhere Man; Wake Up by Nick Prater arr. Ali Orbaum, and the Samoan song Fa’afetai i le Atua arr. Tony Backhouse.

A smaller group called Extra-stronglines also sang the gorgeous harmonies of the Beatles’ song Because.

A highlight was a performance of the South African National anthem Nkosi Sikeleli’l Afrika in tribute to the recent passing of Nelson Mandela.

And at the end, we walked off the stage, singing Love is like a river, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.

 

Long may we celebrate the gift of music in our lives.