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HARROGATE

 

 The earliest records of this now celebrated locality do not go further back than three centuries, viz., about the time of the discovery of the Tewit Well. If we refer to history, three hundred years earlier, we gather no information further than that a dense forest, known as the Forest of Knaresborough, extended for miles round. In a still earlier period, this forest probably afforded shelter to the native Briton in his struggles with the invading Romans. The Picts and the Scots, the Danes and the Normans, followed in succession ; and each in their turn found here a safe retreat or a hiding foe.

We have no account of the terrible trials of strength, the secret ambuscades and murderous forays, which here took place in days when war was a matter of hand-to-hand fighting. There was no historian to record them, since the art of writing was unknown to the native Britons. Considering, however, the nature of the surrounding district, we may fairly presume that the neighbourhood of Harrogate was the scene of many severe struggles. Nine miles distant, in a North Easterly direction, is the place where once stood Iseur, the capital of the Brigantes, who held sway over Yorkshire, and some adjacent counties, at the time when Britain was governed by native Kings. These Brigantes were the most powerful of all the tribes of Britons, and their kingdoms included the counties of York, Durham, Westmoreland, and Lancaster. It was this tribe who treacherously delivered up the first British hero, whose name has come down to us, Caractacus, and whose remarkable captivity and liberation are amongst the earliest pages of British History. Also, nine miles distant, in a North-Westerly direction, are the grandest Druidical remains found in Britain. After the Romans had prevailed, and established stations throughout the kingdom, amongst other places at Knaresborough, and their Northern capital at York, it may still be conjectured that considerable interest would be attached to a locality so proximated to the seat of Government. It is not, however, until after the Norman Conquest and the building of the Castle and Abbey at Knaresborough, that the neighbourhood assumes a place in history, and then it belongs more particularly to the records of Knaresborough. At this period the wild boar and red deer roamed at large in the surrounding forest, subject only to inroads of the knightly hunter from the adjacent Castle.

Rudely o'erspread with shadowy forests lay 
Wide trackless wastes, that never saw the day
Rich fruitful plains, now waving deep with corn, 
Frown'd rough and shaggy with the tangled thorn ; 
Through joyless heaths, and valleys dark with woods, 
Majestic rivers roll'd their useless floods;
Full oft the hunter check'd his ardent chase, 
Dreading the latent bog, the green morass ; 
While, like a blasting mildew, wide were spread 
Blue thick'ning mists in stagnant marshes bred.

Besides the wild boar and the deer, the forest sheltered also the marauder and the destroyer, till it was at length determined to clear away a considerable portion of it, that it might no longer afford a hiding-place for either. Then resounded through its depths the noise of the woodcutter's axe, and, after a partial clearing had been effected, arose the woodcutter's dwellings. These woodcutters probably were the first inhabitants of this wild region, and were altogether ignorant of the discoveries shortly to be made under their feet. Where there were no trees to be felled, there bogs and quagmires prevailed. In the midst of these very bogs, and in the year 1571, was discovered by Captain W. Slingsby, an ancestor of the Slingsbys of Scriven Park, the spring known as the Tewit Well. The discoverer, who was intimately acquainted with the use and properties of several springs in Germany, at once comprehended the value of his discovery, and ordered the place to be walled round, paved, and made available for public use at his own expense. Thus was the first Mineral Spring at Harrogate made known, and nearly one hundred years had passed away before another spring was discovered. Then followed other discoveries, until the number, varieties, and qualities of these springs exceeded anything known elsewhere.

We find then, that up to the middle of the seven.. teenth century, Harrogate consisted only of a few insignificant cottages, some of which still remain, in the locality of Spa Hill. For the few to whom the nature of the invaluable springs found here was then known, and for all who came in search of them, there was no accommodation nearer than Knaresborough. Some of ample means are said to have brought with them a tent, and to have encamped on the Common. It was no easy thing to find "Harrogate Head" or the "Yorkshire Spaw" in those days, and like pilgrims who had found the shrine they were in search of, these adventurers pitched their tents in the wilderness and there abode for many days. At length an hotel gradually arose to offer shelter to the wayfarer, which was called the Queen's Head, now the Queen Hotel, and was built about 1671. This speculation was soon followed by others, and at the present day there are more hotels, and better accommodation, in Harrogate than in any other town of a similar kind. In all the hotels, too, whilst the comfort and style of entertainment are of a, first-class character, the charges are at the most moderate rates. The visitor can be boarded and lodged in the best style, at the best hotels, at about 7s. 6d. per day, and even a much lower rate prevails at some excellent hotels and boarding-houses. As accommodation and comfort increased, so also did the number of visitors, and, as a necessary consequence, so did the fame of these celebrated springs. The afflicted who came to seek relief came not in vain. They who came for pleasure or retirement, returned delighted with the locality and the accommodation.

There has been but one suggestion offered as to the origin of the name Harrogate, and for want of a better we must accept it. It is this :- 

Being situated on the road from Knaresborough to Heywra Park, it was called "Heywra-gate," or road, and ultimately became Harrogate, sometimes erroneously spelt Harrowgate. It lies midway between London and Edinburgh, and is accessible by railway from all parts. On the West are situated the Craven Hills, with the Hambleton range and the Yorkshire Wolds extending to the East. It stands on table-land, which is, at the base of High Harrogate Church, nearly five hundred feet above the level of the sea. On a clear day York Minster may be seen from the top of the road leading to Knaresborough, and from many parts of the Stray. Situated so high, and placed, as it is, midway between the German Ocean and the Irish Sea, Harrogate possesses the advantage of gentle breezes from every point of the compass ; and the soil being of an exceedingly light kind, and very absorbent, the town is entirely free alike from stagnant water and the stagnation of atmospheric currents. Without the aid of its invaluable waters Harrogate might well be considered one of the healthiest places in Great Britain. The spas are said to be suitable for nearly every complaint, and have been pronounced by those capable of judging, to be equal to any of the waters of the German spas. We give a comparative analysis elsewhere. Any one of the springs found in Harrogate would be sufficient to give the town a high position among Watering Places. One spring could hardly, however, be adapted for every kind of disease. Here, however, are- numerous springs, adapted for so many diseases, that it ix a rare case indeed which cannot be ameliorated, if not entirely cured by them. Here also sickly children are strengthened and their constitutions established, and valetudinarians of all ages find immediate relief or gradual improvement. Eruptions of the skin - bilious affections - jaundice - congestion - plethora - dropsy - rheumatism - gout - dyspepsia - epilepsy - sciatica - neuralgia - tic-doloreux, and many other equally distressing complaints, readily yield to the gentle influence of these wonderful waters.

Harrogate stands at the head of British Watering Places, both on account of the variety and efficacy of its Mineral Springs, the beauty of its locality, and the salubrity of its air. Its length and breadth has slowly increased until it now extends over a circuit of four miles, and has long lost all claim to form or plan. Terrace has sprung up after terrace-parade after parade. Wherever a pleasing view could be obtained, there we find a row of elegant houses for private residents, or for the accommodation of numerous visitors who flock here from all parts. Harrogate was divided into High and Low Harrogate, but have now become united as it were into one, from the extension of buildings. The postal division is now Harrogate and Harrogate Wells, the latter being the part formerly called Low Harrogate. Harrogate is situated principally on the borders of an extensive Stray or Common, consisting of more than 200 acres, which is secured for ever, by Act of Parliament, to the use of the public.

In 1770, when an Act for the Enclosure of the Forest of Knaresborough was passed, the value of the Harrogate Waters was so duly appreciated by the public, that it was deemed advisable to make a special provision for their protection. For the information of the stranger, we quote a few sections from the Act :-

 

"Whereas, there are within the said Constableries of Bilton-with-Harrogate and Beckwith-with-Rossett, or one of them, certain Wells or Springs of Medicinal Waters commonly called Harrogate Spaws, to which during the Summer Season great numbers of Persons constantly resort to receive the benefit of the said Waters, to the great advantage and emolument of Tradesmen, Farmers, and other Persons in the neighbourhood, and the Persons resorting to the Waters now have the benefit of taking the Air upon the open Parts of the said Constableries; To the end therefore, That such Privileges may be continued and enjoyed : Be it further enacted, that for the purpose aforesaid two hundred Acres of Land adjoining or near the said Springs of Water, and to be ascertained and set out by the said Commissioners, or any three or more of them, shall be left open for the purposes hereinafter mentioned and declared concerning the same." - See Act, Section 44.

"And be it enacted, that the said two hundred Acres of Land hereinbefore directed to be set out and ascertained, near unto the said Springs of Water, shall be and they are hereby directed to be converted into a stinted Pasture which shall for ever hereafter remain open and unenclosed, and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free Access at all times to the Springs, and be at liberty to use and drink the Waters there arising, and take the benefit thereof, and shall and may have, use, and enjoy full and free Ingress, Egress, and Regress, in, upon, and over the said two hundred Acres of Land, and every or any part thereof, without being subject to the payment of any Acknowledgment whatsoever for the same, or liable to action of trespass, or other suit, Molestation, or Disturbance whatsoever in respect thereof."

"And to the Intent the said Springs of Medicinal Waters may be preserved for the benefit of all Persons having Occasion to make Use of them, and to prevent any Damage being done thereto, Be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any Person or Persons whatsoever, at any time after passing this Act, to dig or sink any Pit or Pits, or work any Quarry or Mine whatsoever, or do any other act, whereby the said Medicinal Springs or Waters may be damaged, polluted, or affected; and that all and every Person or Persons so offending may be prosecuted, convicted, and punished as for a public Nuisance." - See Act, Section.53.

This Stray, with its woodland fringe on the one side, and its irregular row of pleasant-looking and comfortable dwellings on the other - its surface of bright greensward interspersed with various white looking walks and drives, and affording sweet fresh pasturage for a hundred head of cattle - its picturesque church in the centre-its temple devoted to the healing waters-gentlemen's seats scattered here and there in the distance-presents a charming picture on every side at all times pleasant to look upon; whilst the bracing effect of the healthful breeze, which may always be found here, exhilarates the spirits of the weary, and restores health to the invalid.

The Air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses.

Harrogate has nothing in the way of "lions" to be pointed out. It seems to have no need of them. From every window and doorway a pleasant view may be obtained ; and if more be required, there are plenty of places in the neighbourhood which will afford a day of pleasant recreation, and which are enumerated elsewhere. Within an easy distance are Knaresborough, York, Ripon, Studley Park, Fountains Abbey, Brimham Rocks, Plumpton Rocks, Harewood House, Ilkley and Bolton Abbey.

What may be called the town of Harrogate lies something in the form of a bent bow. Beginning at the Dragon Hotel, (The Dragon Hotel was formerly kept by a Mr and Mrs Liddle, who are said to have successfully competed for the "Dunmow Flitch of Bacon," in 1764. We have no means of computing how many married couples at present living in Harrogate could justly claim the conjugal flitch, but we hope there is a goodly number. The hotel was afterwards occupied by Mr and Mrs Frith, parents of the celebrated artist ; the latter was born at the Dragon, and spent some year of his childhood there.) or the National School, you leave Grove House, the residence of Mrs Dury, on the left, and walking South you pass the Old Bank and the Post-office, along Regent Parade and Park Parade, leaving also on your left Gascoigne's and the Granby Hotels. Between these two hotels is a spring of sweet water, called the Black Spring, much used by the inhabitants of Harrogate. Beyond the Granby and the Granby Villas is the road to Starbeck Railway Station, and to Knaresborough. At the top of Knaresborough road stands the elegant new Parsonage, built by private subscription in 1858, at a cost of 2,000 ; near the Parsonage two handsome residences have been recently built for W. Watson, Esq., and G. M. Bennett, Esq. The Church is conspicuous and picturesque, and nestling under its shadow is a cluster of houses, called North Parade and Church Square. On the East side of this Square stands Mansfield House, which was originally built for a theatre, and in which the famous Edmund Kean more than once performed. Previous to the erection of this building, theatrical representations were performed in a barn behind the Granby Hotel; and there it was that the celebrated Miss Mellon used to delight her audience, and where her genius shone forth in a blaze of triumph, which completely obscured the light of twelve penny candles flickering in bottles around her. "Auspieium melioria Aevi," the motto of a Ducal house, (St Albans) was even then foreshadowing itself towards this votress of the sock and buskin; and the cotton neckerchief, which partially covered the fair shoulders of the actress, was erewhile to be exchanged for the rich ermine of the Duchess; and she whose tiny feet pressed with impatient ardour the floor of this rude temple of Thespis and Comus, was hereafter to sojourn as a visitor at the Granby Hotel, as the veritable Duchess of St. Albans. Her husband, the Duke, could trace the origin of his own family, through nearly two centuries, to the liaison of an inimitable actress and a profligate King.

Resuming our perambulation along Park Parade we pass, on the right, the residence of William Sheepshanks, Esq., whose liberal benefactions we shall often have to notice in these pages. A few paces further we reach the Queen Hotel, which, as we have said, was the first hotel erected in Harrogate ; it was considerably enlarged in 1856, and again in 1859 and 1860. Looking across the Stray we can see the Oatlands, the residence of Miss Paley; Wedderburn House, the residence of Joseph Holt, Esq.; the Hollies, the residence of Mr James Powell ; and the Parsonage, the residence of the Rev. Canon James. A race-course is marked out on the Stray, but it is seldom used, except for exercising horses, or having a pleasant gallop over it. After passing a number of handsome newly-erected villas, the Royal Hotel, and York Place, we reach the Brunswick Hotel. On the left hand, down in the hollow, is the Tewit Well, the first spring discovered in Harrogate. We have now traversed what may be termed the arc of the bow, and must pursue a line, slightly curved, for the Pump Room and Harrogate Wells. Opposite the Clarendon Hotel is a roughly-hewn pillar of stone, nine feet high, erected about 1778, after the Act for the enclosure of the Forest of Knaresborough was passed (an extract from which we have already given), and intended merely to mark a boundary. Hotels, lodging-houses, private residences and shops, line the way on one hand, and on the other is a fine open park fringed with gentlemen's seats - St. Mary's Church and Parsonage, and the Esplanade, are on the left; and after passing Brunswick Terrace and Prospect Place, a somewhat steep descent is made to what may be properly termed Harrogate Wells. Here we find several first-class hotels inviting our notice - the Crown, the White Hart, the Swan ; and in the centre of all is the far-famed Pump Room, greeting the olfactory nerves with its sulphureous, and to many unpleasant, odour.

We are now in the locality where visitors "most do congregate" at an early hour every morning, to partake of the healing waters. The "early birds" arrive about six o'clock, at which hour the Pump Room is, according to the tenant's bond, to be opened, in summer and winter. As the morning advances the number of visitors greatly increases, lively strains of inspiriting music are heard in several directions, morning greetings are exchanged and the great business of the day, the liquid dose, duly disposed of, not without sundry wry faces and grimaces, especially amongst the younger branches of the water-bibbers. These waters are generally dispensed from the Royal or other Pump Rooms, at a very moderate charge, but they may also be had alfresco at the common tap open to the public at large, who may help themselves ad libitum. Attendants are in waiting by appointment, to provide a glass and heat the water if required. They expect a trifling gratuity for the accommodation. The water itself is totally free, and the invalid who is too ill to leave his hotel or lodgings, or prefers taking the water there, may send his servant with a bottle, and have it fresh at the fountain-head without charge.

From eight to ten o'clock is the busiest time at the Pump Rooms, when the glasses sparkle on the board, and pass merrily round. Great is the variety in that crowd of invalid and robust visitors. There is the veteran of the army or navy, who having been much buffetted about in life, is, in his old age, subject to rheumatism or gout, and rejoices to find a healing spring which gives renewed vigour to his weather-beaten frame. There is the bon vivant, who pays his annual visit here to have the impurities of his surcharged system cleared away, and the digestive organs, much enfeebled by indulgence, restored to their natural activity. There is the merchant, who, after anxious and close attention to business through a period of great commercial excitement, finding his powers of thought and memory weakened-his appetite leaving him-his system feeble and his mind desponding, has come to seek recreation or quiet, and the aid of the waters and pure air to obtain new elasticity and returning cheerfulness to mind and body. There is the consumptive fair one, on whom hang the fondest hopes of her loving parents, seeking benefit at a fountain which seldom fails to yield it. Here come a troop of children of all sizes, who, though they have no particular complaint, must, like their parents, taste these health-renewing and far-famed waters. See that foul blotch, disfiguring a face otherwise beautiful !Think you not the amiable and youthful sufferer from that unpleasant disease would give all she possessed of this world's goods to discover the Jordan where she could " wash and be clean ?" Lo ! here are medicines, compounded in the unerring "laboratory of nature." which shall, by the blessing of God, accomplish it. Or observe that young female with the green shade over her eyes - the lower jaw and mouth how beautifully formed ! - remove the shade, and you will find disease settled on her forehead and in her eyes-her once beautiful hair has fallen off-her eyes are denuded of their greatest ornament and protection, the eyelashes, and the eyelids seem to be in a state of inflammatory irritation. Despair not, afflicted one ! these waters have an influence which, by purifying the blood and restoring the functions of the skin, may give back thy flowing hair and restore to those eyes the delicate fringes they have lost.

Dr. Granville, in his work on "The Spas of England," devotes a larger portion to Harrogate than to any other watering place, and gives the following lively sketch of the company here upwards of twenty years ago :-

"Seated on a bench fronting the principal path, from whence I am sketching the present description, the company, which has collected in pretty large numbers at the Royal Promenade Room, (Now called the Cheltenham Pump Room) attracted by the fineness of the early morning, now spreads in groups over the grounds, and exhibits to the keen observer their several characteristic peculiarities and infirmities. A lovely woman has just passed before me, whose weeds seem recent ; she accompanies an only son, whose leg has been cut off to arrest the ravaging inroads of scrofula, which seems also to have seared his pale and sunken face with scars and swellings. Perhaps the father, whose loss the sable of both mother and son plainly tells, has been swept away by the same fatal disorder ; the poisonous lymph of which, creeping with the paternal blood, propagated itself to the unhappy offspring.

Another boy has just been led along to the margin of the lake (This lake is now filled up, and the spot used as an Archery Ground), for a ride in the boat. His appearance marks the presence of a hip disease. He is lame, weak, and walks not without suffering. He has drunk, I am told, of the sulphur well for some time past, and is now using the saline chalybeate. His progress towards recovery, of late, is said to be wonderfully great.

Faces still bearing the marks of previous illness, but which my kind cicerone, the colonel, who had watched them from the first, assured me had been before saffronised and resembled tallow, now pass in review, in walking lines, or appear, here and there dotting the lawns, and exhibiting daily a notable progress towards a better complexion.

Anon, and I recognised among the invalids a good hospitable gentleman, an alderman of Newcastle, at whose house I had been kindly entertained during a sojourn in that town, at the meeting of the British Association in the year preceding. I had known him in excellent health. He appeared now as if rising from the grave, accompanied by a young and interesting guardian angel-a most affectionate niece, ever watchful over the safety of her uncle. He had been recommended by Doctor Headlam, the eminent physician of Newcastle, to come hither after a severe and dangerous bilious fever. On his arrival he seemed so ill that the surgeon, Mr Richardson, would hardly venture to sanction the use of the waters. He had all the symptoms of a confirmed hepatic disease. He drank the sulphur water and bathed in it, and he was now restored.

After all, these panoramic glances at the congregated numbers of invalids who apply to the mineral springs for health, are the most instructive. Here the merest superficial observer will detect with ease from among the mere imaginary valetudinarians, those that are really ill; he will trace the daily changes for the better which the latter exhibit; and he cannot fail to be struck, particularly at Harrogate, with the wide distinction of classes among the number of visitors who frequent the spa. Here the difference in the company, month by month, as the season advances, is remarkable.

Surely there must be something more than mere fancy in that peculiarity observed in the mould of countenance of certain people in each distinct class of society. But besides I blood,' which is always sure of showing itself, and is different in different castes - the distinction of faces must have been implanted on the physiognomy of certain individuals by the respective daily occupations - the habitual state of mind - their diet  and, above all, their associations."

When such a variety of complaints afflict mankind, it would be absurd to suppose that one mode of action would be suitable for all of them. We, therefore, strongly recommend all who come to seek relief from the waters of Harrogate, to place themselves under the care of the medical gentlemen of the place, who are intimately acquainted with the component parts of the waters flowing from each spring, and the particular diseases for which they are suitable, and under whose guidance the most helpless need not despair of finding the relief they seek.

Before resuming our route, we will give a few particulars of the several Pump-Rooms and Baths in this locality.

 
 
 

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