The Holt Spa

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Holt, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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The commercial success of spa resorts like Bath and Buxton and on the Continent, like the original Spa in Belgium, inspired the hopeful development of numerous small spas. Taking the waters for health and the associated social scene became all the fashion. Water that was rich in iron salts was found at Holt in 1688 and the supposed benefits of drinking it were promoted widely, with a book being published in London by Henry Eyre in 1731. The water was bottled and sold as far away as London.

After a decline, an effort was made by Dr David Thomson Arnot to revive the spa at the end of the century, but the Pump Room, adjoining house and the Great House and furnishings were advertised for auction in 1802 for 1,400 guineas.

Click on the thumbnail pictures for a larger view.

Holt Spa PumpThere were originally several pumps supplying the waters in the area now called The Midlands, once Middlings. One pump remains under an ornate Tuscan-columned porch amongst what later became a collection of industrial buildings.

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Holt Spa Memorial The carved marble memorial above the pump celebrates the development of the spa and its accompanying fashionable gatherings from 1720 by Lady Mary Lisle and Rev John Lewis.

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Holt Spa water advertisement, Daily Post 1730An advertisement issued by Henry Eyre, proprietor of the Holt Spa, in the Daily Post in 1730. He was carrying bottles of Holt, Bath and Bristol Hotwells water for sale by inns and apothecaries by overland waggon over southern England. He takes the opportunity of listing the numerous benefits of taking Holt water, such as “carry off immediately any Breakings out in the Face”

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Holt SpaA late 19th century photograph of the Holt Spa pump house, basically a late 17th century house that had been reused and embellished with a classical portico. Two of the columns and part of the lintel above are probably the ones that can be seen today, although in a slightly different location .

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The Holt Spa pumpThis copy of an old drawing of the Holt mineral water spa pump room seems to have been done perhaps from memory, as there are some differences from the photograph

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Holt Spa Great HouseTo accommodate the visitors to the summer season at the spa, the Great House, or Spa House,  was built around 1730. It was seven bays wide and three storeys high and made of brick with ashlar dressings.

By the early 19th century the spa’s brief career was declining and the building became a private school and later was divided up into  dwellings. From 1868 it became Beavens’ glove factory, but in the middle of the 20th century it was becoming derelict and was demolished in March 1957.

 

Holt Spa tokenA copper alloy token that was issued by Dr David Thomson Arnot, the proprietor of the Spa House, with an agent, John Griffiths in St Alban’s Street in London. It presumably could be exchanged for a quantity of bottled Holt Spa water. Dr Arnot advertised as the proprietor of the Holt Wells and the opening of his boy’s school in the Bath Advertiser in September 1794. He became bankrupt in 1815.

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Holt Spa mineral water bottleAn eighteenth century bottle bearing a “seal” advertising Holt Mineral Water, Wilts.

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