Florence Nightingale Trail - Harrogate
Historic Spa Town
"On 3rd May 1852, Florence Nightingale accompanied her Aunt Mai to Harrogate for the purpose of taking the waters. They stayed, "as usual", at lodgings opposite Christ Church, which still stands in the middle of the High Harrogate Stray. The lodgings were probably on Park Parade, but the fact that they were being repainted during the start of the visitor season caused Florence and her Aunt to remove themselves to other lodgings. Unfortunately the new lodgings also underwent repainting, so Florence and her Aunt Mai, after "hunting all Harrogate through", settled at "a very superior lodging, Mrs. Wrights, York Place. But alas, it is Â£2.5s a week", their previous lodging having been only a guinea a week. Florence's letters to her mother show that she drank the waters, visited local sights (weather permitting!) and experienced the nuisance of the dust that came from the primitive roads and permeated many houses.
Harrogate at the time of Florence's visit, was still coming to terms with the new Act of Parliament that allowed twenty-one elected Improvement Commissioners to attempt to drag the sometimes reluctant community into the nineteenth century. By 1852, the town still consisted of the two villages of High and Low Harrogate, with the rapidly growing area of central Harrogate in between. Florence and her Aunt almost certainly would have walked across the Stray, that two hundred acres of open grassland which still separates inner and outer parts of the town. They would have visited the Royal Pump Room and tried its strong sulphur waters, the building being only ten years old. They almost certainly visited the source of all the Mineral springs, the so-called "Bogs Field", some half a mile distant from the Pump Room. One of the principal developments in Harrogate at the time of Florence's visit was the rebuilding of Starbeck Baths, and their housing in an elegant essay in Victorian Tudor, which still graces Spa Lane.If Florence did not visit these baths, she would have passed them on visits to neighbouring Knaresborough, which - as now - was one of the district's prime visitor attractions. Harrogate's main visitor attraction in 1852 was the great grecian temple that contained the "Royal Chalybeate Spa and Concert Rooms", or Spa Rooms, in Low Harrogate, and it would have been here that Florence and her Aunt would have attended some of the entertainments, balls and assemblies which continued to attract visitors to the Yorkshire Spa".
author of the above: Malcolm Neesam, acknowledging the research of Cora Weaver.
Click the book to find out more in the Great Malvern Bookshop
Click on Florence to go to the trail locality
Do read Florence Nightingale and the Malvern Water Cure, by Cora Weaver (2016), 28 pages, 14 illustrations, A5 format as illustrated above. Send a cheque payable to Cora Weaver to Cora at 4 Hall Green Malvern Worcs WR14 3QX for £4.49 inc, p&p; with your name and address.
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