Towards the end of the 1500’s a man named William Slingsby stopped to have a drink from a well, He was well travelled and had tasted spa water before, so when he tasted this he recognise it.
What Mr. Slingsby had discovered is now called the Tewit well, it is a chalybeate (contains iron).
Until this time Harrogate had been a small village near the historically important town of Knaresborough, but it began to grow as word spread and people of the time believed that spa water could cure any number of illnesses and afflictions.
In 1631 Dr Michael Stanhope discovered what is now St Johns well and with this discovery Harrogate grew even further. During the 17th century the village continued to grow slowly but steadily, with people bathing in the sulphur wells and drinking at the chalybeate wells. This led to the number of Inns rising to accommodate all the visitors.
In 1778 when public land was being enclosed and divided up between various people, it was decided that 200 acres would be dedicated to the public, this area is now known as ‘The Stray’.
Harrogate continued to develop and to be a destination for the wealthy. In 1788 Harrogate Theatre was built to entertain the growing number of visitors in the evening and the Promenade Rooms opened in 1806 so people could still take exercise and meet people even in bad weather.
By the end of the 1830’s over 10,000 people a year visited Harrogate and in 1842 the Royal Pump House was designed to replace the old sulphur well.
Charles Dickens visited in 1858 and noted “ Harrogate is the queerest place with the strangest people in it, leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.
By the 1860’s visitors had trebled to 30,000 and 1887 saw the creation of the Valley Gardens to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden jubilee.
In 1897 the Duke of Cambridge opened the Royal Baths, at the time it was said to be the most advanced hydrotherapy centre in the world, offering everything from Vichy douches, to electric shock baths. Three years later in 1900 the Grand Opera House opened.
In 1903 The Royal Hall was the place for entertainment for the 75,000 now visiting every year.
After the much publicised disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 she was found safe but suffering from amnesia at the Harrogate Hydro Hotel.