Yesterday I was in Royal Leamington Spa in the county of Warwickshire. Nobody I know ever calls it by its Royal title or even necessarily adds the “Spa” bit. It is one of only three towns in England with a Royal prefix (the others being Royal Tunbridge Wells and Royal Wooten Basset). Leamington received its Royal status in 1838 after an 11 year old Queen Victoria spent her first ever night away from home there. I guess it was a very big deal for all concerned.
Below is the Town Hall with its statue of Queen Victoria.
It was a very soggy, cold day and Franc and I arrived in time for our lunch booking at Pizza Express. This chain serves vegan pizza, albeit one has to currently provide their own dairy-free cheese if required. Displayed on its back wall is this tennis racquet circle, paying tribute to the fact that England’s very first lawn tennis club was formed in the town in 1872.
Leamington Spa is best known for its Pump Rooms, a hydrotherapy centre from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century where people came to heal their ailments with mineral spa baths. I have not included a photograph of the exterior as it is not an interesting looking grade II listed building plus the rainy added only added to its dullness. Due to the decline in saline spring popularity it then became Turkish baths and a swimming pool up until its closure in 1990. Nowadays it is an enjoyable free museum which houses such items as this male pulse-quickening Baywatch style attire:
Back in the spa’s heyday, considerate gentleman Thomas “Dipper” Dilkes kept a tub full of mineral water in the ditch where the spring rose to personally plunge those unfortunate people who had been bitten by mad dogs, along with the rabid four legged criminals for a thorough healing. I threw a handful of water into my mouth from the fountain and was taken surprise at the copious salt content. I later read it makes an excellent laxative so it was just as well I didn’t fill a bottle for the journey home.
Healing water aside, Leamington Spa is also known for producing “The “Wickedest Man in the World”, satanist Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) and the setting for the 1990s sitcom “Keeping up Appearances”. It’s main character Hyacinth Bucket (“It’s Bou-quet!”) was pretty unpalatable too.
I had been excited about the thought of cruelty-free cake from The Garden Shed Café (fully vegan), however to my disappointment it is not open on Sundays. There is also Pure & Raw in the town centre – a juice bar and raw wholefoods café which WAS open but which I had bypassed since I already had my heart set on Garden Shed cake. After the Pump Room tour it was then too late to return. I made do with a few chocolate covered ginger cubes. I believe ginger is a laxative too.