Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HARROGATE

HARROGATE, a town, two chapelries, and a sub-district, in Knaresborough district, W. R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the Leeds, Harrogate, and Stockton railway, in Knaresborough forest, near the river Nidd, 3 miles SW of Knaresborough, and 15½ N of Leeds; and is so situated, in regard to railway ramification, that it may be approached in six directions from respectively Boroughbridge, Northallerton, Pateley-Bridge, Leeds, Tadcaster, and York. It is a fashionable watering-place, visited annually by upwards of 30,000 persons, not only from various parts of Britain, but from foreign countries; and, like many other places of its class, it cannot boast of any antiquity. It acquired some celebrity, about 1576, by the discovery of the first-known of its mineral springs; but it was then an almost inaccessible spot, amid a thick forest on the wolds; and it was hindered, by many circumstances, from rising much or soon into public notice. The tract around it was of a character exceedingly adverse to its ever becoming a seat of population, or a centre of concourse; continued, at the time when Smollett wrote his "Humphrey Clinker,"to be a "wild common, bare and bleak, without tree or shrub, or the least signs of cultivation;" and even yet is comparatively so open, bare, and unsheltered, as to appear to some visitors, at first sight, not very attractive. But the discovery of more mineral springs, many and various, the high repute which these obtained for medicinal virtue, the salubriousness of the climate, the effecting of great local improvements, and the existence, within easy distances, of numerous attractions of scenery and antiquities, eventually overcame every disadvantage of situation, and lifted the town into rivalry with some of the most favourite watering-places in the kingdom.

The site ranges in height, above sea-level, from 326 feet at the Cheltenham Pump-room, to 596 feet on Harlow Hill. The town consisted originally of two villages, High Harrogate on the E, Low Harrogate on the W, lying nearly two-thirds of a mile asunder; but it now has streets and places uniting these, and called Central Harrogate; and it has been described, in regard to its general ground plan, as "a huge quadrant, whose curvature is turned eastward, having its extremities expanded into two similar wings." The structure of it, as to streets and houses, is so peculiar as to make it look like a mixture of villages with bits of town and bits of city; and most of it, at the same time, stands completely open to the sunshine and the green fields. A non-enclosed tract of 200 acres, called the Stray, also lies along the greater part of its S side; is free for every kind of exercise; was recently drained and otherwise improved, at a cost of above £1,000; and is partly disposed in a race-course. The hotels are very numerous, ranging from first-class to small; the chief of them are among the most prominent buildings; and several are very handsome. Many private houses, variously for residents and for visitors, also are elegant. The pump-rooms, the baths, and the pleasure-grounds, are in good style, and form an interesting aggregate. The observatory on Harlow Hill was erected in 1829; is a square tower, about 100 feet high, with raised platform at the top; commands a panoramic prospect, over a radius of 60 or 70 miles; and has powerful telescopes for examining the distant features of the landscape. The town-hall, with library, is a small building in Promenade-square. The literary institution, with library and news-room, is in James street; and has weekly lectures during winter. A covered market, 300 feet long and 100 feet wide, in a central situation, was projected in 1860, but was not commenced at the end of 1865. Christ Church in High Harrogate, was built in 1831, at a cost of £4,000, and altered and enlarged in. 1862, at a cost of £3,200; is in the early English style; and has a tower with pinnacles. St. Mary's church, in Low Harrogate, was built in. 1824; and is also in the early English style, with a tower. The Independent chapel, in Victoria Park, was built in 1863, at a cost of £7,000; superseded a previous one, in James-street; and is in the decorated English style, with a tower and spire 130 feet high. The Wesleyan chapel, in Chapel-street, nearer to Parliament-street than a previous one, was built also in 1863; and is in the Italian style. There are chapels also for Quakers, Primitive Methodists, and United Free Methodists; and there are national schools in both High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, a free school for girls in High Harrogate, and a British school in Low Harrogate.

The mineral springs are variously saline, sulphureous, and chalybeate; and notes of the analyses of them severally, of their respective medicinal virtues, and of the modes of using them, can readily be obtained from local publications. The Tewit well was the earliest discovered; is situated about 400 yards SE of the Brunswick hotel; and is surmounted by a fine cupola, supported by eleven pillars. The Sweet spa was discovered in 1601; is situated about ¼ of a mile S of the Tewit well; and is covered by a neat octagonal building, erected in 1842. The Old wells were discovered about 1656; are situated at the W end of the Crown hotel; were formerly covered with the cupola which now stands over the Tewit well; and are now enclosed in an ornate octagonal building, called the Royal Pump-room, crowned with a large dome. The Montpelier springs are situated in fine pleasure-grounds, at the E end of the Crown hotel; and are enclosed in a neat octagonal building, in the Chinese style. The Montpelier baths, situated in the same grounds, were erected in 1834; are extensive and commodious; and have a handsome front, with a portico, and a lofty entrance-hall, with a glazed dome. The Victoria baths are situated near the town-hall; were erected in 1832; and stand on low ground, with nights of steps descending to their entrance. The Cheltenham Pump-room stands about 200 yards NE of the Crown hotel; is a spacious edifice, in the Doric style; and has a saloon 100 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 27 feet high, used as a reading-room, as a promenade-room, and for concerts. The Harlow Carr springs are situated near the observatory; have the advantage of a quiet and secluded neighbourhood; and are adjoined by baths and a hotel. Sixteen sulphur springs, called the Bog wells, are situated to the W of Low Harrogate; lie near one another, and yet have separate and distinct qualities; and are considered as great curiosities. The Bath hospital is situated a little W of these wells; was erected in 1824, and has been twice enlarged; is used for the gratuitous relief of poor persons residing at a distance, and requiring the benefit of the Harrogate waters; and has accommodation for above 100 patients. Other spas and baths might be mentioned, but they are of secondary importance. New virtues in some of the waters were discovered in 1865.

The town has a railway station, two telegraph offices, a head post-office‡ in Central Harrogate, a receiving post-office in High Harrogate, several postal pillars, and two banking-offices; and it publishes two weekly newspapers. It is governed by 21 commissioners, under the Improvement Act; and is lighted with gas. Balls are held weekly during the season, at the Crown, the Granby, and the Dragon hotels. The promenades in the Montpelier and Cheltenham rooms are usually crowded and gay. Billiard-rooms, reading-rooms, libraries, and other appliances of recreation are abundant. Races were occasionally held till about 1857. Many places of interest are within easy walking-distance of the town; and carriages of all kinds can readily be had for excursions. Fountains Abbey, Bolton Abbey, Borrowbridge, Aldborough, Ripon, York, and numberless attractive places of less note, are within a circuit of 18 miles. The town comprises part of the township of Bilton-with-Harrogate, in the parish of Knaresborough, and part of the parish of Pannal. Pop. in 1851, 3,678; in 1861, 4,737. Houses, 920. Pop. of the Bilton-with-Harrogate portion in 1861, 3,832. Houses, 747. But these figures are almost wholly exclusive of visitors to the waters.

The two chapelries are High Harrogate and Low Harrogate; the former in the parish of Knaresborough, and constituted in 1828; the latter in the parish of Pannal, and constituted in 1830. Pop. in 1861, of H. H., 4,327; of L. H., 993. Houses, 845 and 190. The livings are vicarages in the diocese of Ripon; but, previous to the formation of that diocese, H. H. was in the diocese of Chester, and L. H. in the diocese of York. Value of H. H. £300.* Patron, the Bishop of Ripon. Value of L. H., £120.* Patron, the Vicar of Pannal.—The sub-district contains Bilton-with-Harrogate township, all Pannal parish, two townships of Ripley, two of Hampsthwaite, one of Spofforth, and the extra-parochial tract of Haverah Park. Acres, 21,645. Pop., 8,605. Houses, 1,732.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, two chapelries, and a sub-district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Harrogate SubD       Knaresborough PLU/RegD       West Riding Riding       Yorkshire AncC
Place: Harrogate

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.