Blue plaque to go up in honour of architect of Leamington town hall

John Cundall. Picture courtesy of The Leamington History Group.  www.leamingtonhistory.co.uk
John Cundall. Picture courtesy of The Leamington History Group. www.leamingtonhistory.co.uk

A blue plaque will be put up in Leamington at the address where the Victorian architect for the town hall once lived.

John Cundall was born in the town and lived at 37 Warwick Street for part of his life.

He was an architect of some standing who designed various buildings in Leamington including the town hall, the churches of St Paul and St John’s and also contributed to features in Jephson Gardens including the Hitchman Fountain.

Mr Cundall’s great grandson Edward Sargent, himself an architect, gave a talk about his great grandfather at an event in November.

Blue Plaque Group member Robin Taylor said: “Of the many things I learnt from Mr Sargent’s talk I shall select one.

“It had never occurred to me before that the Victorians were fond of asymmetry.

It is a taste that deserves, not necessarily approval, but at least thought.

“The front of the Town Hall, while it makes me smile, has always puzzled me.

“Now, thanks to Mr Sargent, I shall wonder if, instead of smiling at it I might do better to smile with it. “

“Of course having selected one thing I cannot resist a second, something I have long wanted to know: the identity of the woman on the mosaic high up on the front of the Town Hall.

She is Hygeia, the goddess of health, whose symbols are a cup and a snake, the snake sometimes drinking from the cup.

“On the Town Hall the cup is in her right hand.

“As far as I can tell, using binoculars, the snake is entwined round her left hand and wrist.

“Her significance for Leamington is obvious.

“Not surprisingly she is the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine, who is also accompanied by a snake.

“A snake, because it sloughs its skin, represents renewed youth.”

The building of Leamington’s town hall as it is today started in 1882 and it was opened in 1884.

It is actually the town’s second town hall with the first being built in 1830 in High Street where it is still standing and now used as the Polish centre.