If you’ve ever dropped into The Queen’s Pantry, you’re very likely to have heard our owner, Samantha, before you’ve walked in the door. ‘She’s loud, she’s brash, she says it like it is. She must be a New Yorker’ you think. Well bada-boom bada-bing, start spreading the news, Sammy is actually from a beautiful little town, right in the middle of England, called Royal Leamington Spa, and we wanted to tell you a little bit more about the town that regularly sleeps.
Royal Leamington Spa, or Leam as the natives call it, is a spa town in the county (state) of Warwickshire, England. We don’t have county nicknames, but if we did, we’d probably be called Wealthy Warwickshire. It is generally a well-to-do place, no big cities, very green, and it is said that most residents get out of the bath to use the toilet.
Originally a small village called Leamington Priors, it grew into a spa town in the 18th Century following the populisation of its water which was said to have medicinal qualities. The town grew quickly, with people coming from far and wide to take up the waters. It became a popular spa resort attracting the wealthy and famous, and many, large Georgian townhouses were built to accommodate visitors. Today, you can visit the Pump Rooms, which may sound like an establishment of ill repute, but is actually a former spa and swimming pool, and taste the healing spa waters. So what does healing spa water taste like? Go get a glass. Fill it up with toilet water. Put in some rusty nails and some old 1 cent coins. Leave it in the laundry room to get to lukewarm temperature. Then put it in front of the television and make it watch every episode of The Kardashians. Yeah. That’s what it tastes like. It’s supposed to have healing qualities. You drink it, feel terrible, then when you’ve had some proper water, you feel so much better. So, it kinda works.
Before Royal Leamington Spa became Royal Leamington Spa, it was known as Leamington Spa. In 1830, Princess Victoria and Prince Albert (DO NOT GOOGLE PRINCE ALBERT - especially if there are children in the room) visited Leamington Spa and was so taken by it that in 1838, when she’d changed her name to Queen Victoria, she bestowed the Royal prefix upon the town. So it went from being Leamington Spa to Royal Leamington Spa, and to this day is still known as Royal Leamington Spa. This paragraph was brought to you by Visit Royal Leamington Spa. I got paid £5 every time I said Royal Leamington Spa. I'm off to deposit my £25 into the bank. There are many banks in Royal Leamington Spa.
A sidenote: In 1902, the people of Leamington erected a statue to Queen Victoria at a cost of £1500 ( $250,000 in today's money). It stands outside the town hall. On 14th November 1940, a German bomb exploded nearby and moved the statue one inch on its plinth. She was not amused (an old English saying that is attributed to Vicky after she heard a rude joke. Although it was also rumoured that whenever she met anyone, as they held their hands out to greet her, she always said ‘pull my finger’).
Despite Leamington being a beautiful, green town, with stunning Regency and Victorian architecture, there is a dark side to the town. English occultist, ceremonial magician, founder of the Thelema movement and all-round Prince of Darkness Aleister Crowley was born in Royal Leamington Spa in October 1875. He was seen as a pretty bad boy, but looking at the three statements from The Book of Law of Thelema, he sort of said do what you want, when you want and love is the law. He was a highly influential and notorious figure during his lifetime. He was a recreational drug user and had very liberal views around where, who and how he put his bits. Fortunately not everyone from Leamington is like that today. (We do know the ones who are if you’re thinking of visiting).
Just to balance things up, Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, lived in Leamington. Without Sir Frank, Samantha may never have flown over to these shores. Thanks, Sir Frank.