This letter contains a beautiful hand coloured draft plan for the development of land on both the north and south sides of the River Leam and includes an area of land which later became part of Jephson Gardens. An enlarged pen and ink sketch of this latter area is shown in the bottom corner to the right of the draft plan and displays beds of shrubs and ornamental trees alongside paths running parallel with Newbold Terrace and the river. The fountain in the middle unites the design. The plan is described by Mr (John) Cullis who was the contractor responsible for the physical execution of the design. A sum of £1,350 was estimated to be the cost of this undertaking.
Promenading was a fashionable activity in the spa towns of England from the late 18th century onwards, providing exceptional opportunities for social networking by prosperous visitors, within the context of a healthy regimen of exercise. The attraction of these visitors was the driving force behind the provision of parks and gardens in Leamington in the earlier decades of the 19th century.
The Willes family was a major landowner in Georgian Leamington although Edward Willes was less enthusiastic about the expansion of the town, preferring instead to protect the seclusion of his estate at Newbold Comyn. Following his death in 1820, his son also named Edward, demonstrated great enthusiasm in developing the town with an active involvement in a variety of schemes, initially centred upon Clarendon Square and Beauchamp Square and the surrounding streets, and later and arguably the most notable, relating to the development of Holly Walk, Hamilton Crescent, Euston Place, Newbold Terrace and the Jephson Gardens during the 1830s.
During the year 1832, J.G.Jackson was appointed by Willes to be his agent. A trained architect, he already had his own practice in Leamington, and the appearance of the development of Holly Walk, Hamilton Crescent, Euston Place, Newbold Terrace and the Jephson Gardens is largely attributed to him.
This article was Document of the Month for the Warwickshire County Record Office in May 2013. Further articles can be found on their website.