Harrogate War Memorial

Harrogate War Memorial © TAB

The elegant town of Harrogate is one of the most beautifully laid-out towns in England. Much of its Victorian architecture still remains intact, with fine mellow stonework, wide tree lined streets and colourful parks and gardens.

The centre is packed with excellent period architecture, plush hotels, Regency houses, tea rooms and a good selection of shops; including many bespoke outlets and interesting little boutiques.

Harrogate became the first town in England to have the title Spa added to it. Its popularity grew in the 18th-c, when a physician Timothy Bight claimed that the sulphur and iron rich waters afforded healing qualities. The town attracted tourists in such great numbers they eventually exceeded its population. By the 1850s over 30,000 visitors a year came to take the waters. The original 19th-c Royal Pump Room (now a museum), stands on the edge of the town, where adventurous visitors can still taste its pungent waters. There are actually around eighty different wells in the town, no two of them exactly alike, and all claiming to have some beneficial health value.

Parks and open areas of grassland give the town a spacious air. Prospect Square, in the centre of the town, is one of its many fine open spaces. The Stray (200 acres of common land), is a also popular place for walks and picnics. The Valley Gardens and their extension, the Crescent Gardens, have well tended flower-beds and lawns and are full of colour and interest all year round.

The town is located in an ideal centre for access to the Yorkshire dales. The area also hosts a number of important annual events including French and Italian weeks and an annual festival of arts and sciences.

Victoria Shopping Centre
Victoria Shopping Centre © TAB

Places of interest to visit in Harrogate

The Royal Pump Room Museum

Royal Pump MuseumThe Royal Pump Room became England's first public baths in 1842. Built over a sulphur well, previously named The Stinking Spaw! The museum tells of the glory of Harrogate's Spa heyday and how the local waters were believed to cure a wide variety of skin diseases, digestive disorders and rheumatic complaints. Other exhibits cover local history, Victoriana, costumes, pottery and an antique dolls house. The museum also contains a stunning Egyptian collection, plus temporary exhibitions of social history.

Opening times: all year, Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5 (4 in winter) Admission Charge
Location: Crown Place, Harrogate, HG1 2RY - Tel: 01423 556188 Website

The Royal Baths

Royal BathsBuilt in 1897, the original Victorian Royal Baths closed in 1969. However, after complete restoration in 2004 the Turkish Baths reopened as a modern leisure facility and contemporary spa. The building's elegant assembly rooms are still used for fairs, meetings and conferences.

The Royal Hall

Edwardian style theatre built in 1903 for evening enjoyment after taking the waters. Originally named the Kursaal, it is now Harrogate's main entertainment and conference centre. It features a lovely horseshoe-shaped balcony and ornate ceilings.

Mercer Art Gallery

Displays a fine collection of over 2000 oils and water-colours by local artists, plus a regular series of changing exhibitions of painting, photography, sculpture and crafts. Free Entry.

Valley Gardens

Valley Gardens in Spring
Valley Gardens in Spring © TAB

A lovely sheltered park set in a shallow valley that provides a very attractive area to walk, very much as it did in Victorian times. The Sun Colonnade (along the northern edge), is a lovely 600ft glass-covered walkway that leads to a glass-domed Sun Pavilion, with tea-rooms and a concert hall. Dotted around the garden are 36 mineral wells, from which water was pumped to the Royal Baths Hospital. Free Entry.

RHS Harlow Car Gardens

Harlow Car Gardens in SpringLocated on the edge of the town, these show gardens contains a comprehensive collection of flora and experimental horticulture, in a natural dell setting. Visitors can enjoy over 60 acres of ornamental beds, borders, woodland, rock gardens, scented gardens and a long stream-side garden, noted for its moisture-loving plants. It is also noted for its extensive vegetable gardens, greenhouses, trial beds and lily ponds. These award winning gardens hosts the national collections of hypericum, heathers, rhubarb and ferns.

Map of Harrogate


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