Regency H(N)ot Spots: Harrogate

High Harrogate and Low Harrogate came to birth around the 17th century as two separate developments.  In north Yorkshire, it is an iron and sulphur rich spa spot which became know as “The English Spa” during the Georgian era.

Known as England’s “Floral District,” Harrogate  has a massive public space called The Stray which was created by an act of Parliament in 1770 and spans over 200 acres which leads visitors through the center of Harrogate.

The discovery of the wells and the popularization of the belief of health benefits of “taking the waters” led to a steady trickle of visitors which, in turn, resulted in a boom of inns in the late 17th Century.   By the late 1700s, Harrogate was established as a popular upper class destination for the aged and the ailing, and for the entertainment of the leisure class a Theatre  (1788) and later the Promenade Rooms (1806).

 William Connor Sydney (1898) noted that as late as 1815 Harrogate “sequestered as it was, received no more than two thousand visitors annually.”

Economy and “mutual treating” among the sexes (men pay for wine, women for tea) attracted perhaps the upper middle classes to its more remote location. 

Sydney also tells us that during the Regency period, the spa Season featured two weekly balls in an assembly room.

There was some entertainment, and certainly a wealth of healthy parklife and taking of the waters.  Undoubtedly its removed location from London never allowed Harrogate to quite flourish like its fellow spa resort city Bath.

Georgette Heyer was fond of featuring Harrogate in many of her Regencies.  Venetia “had never been further than Harrogate” and the Aunt in The Nonesuch described journeys to visit an ailing uncle from Harrogate.

Nearby is mystical and magical Knaresborough which remind one a bit of west coastal Norway and features a castle.

A perfect setting for a Regency, I should think!

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