‘Destroyed’ Aylesford Well basin returned to town

Aylesford's Well, Leamington Spa, 1868-1881
Aylesford's Well, Leamington Spa, 1868-1881

An original stone basin from Leamington’s spa history has been returned 50 years after it was thought to have been destroyed.

The centuries-old Aylesford Well basin is the latest addition to the town museum’s collection and can now be shown off alongside its original pump once again.

Senior curator, Victoria Slade, with the recently acquired Aylesford Well basin

Senior curator, Victoria Slade, with the recently acquired Aylesford Well basin

The basin comes from a 19th century well house that stood over the original source of spa water in Leamington - a spring located on the edge of the Earl of Aylesford’s land outside All Saint’s church.

The Earl had the well house built over the spring just at the bottom of the Parade in 1803.

The basin was placed safely inside, but connected to a pump handle on the street so that it could be accessed by everybody free of charge.

And it has always been thought that the basin was lost when the well house was demolished in 1961.

But it has now emerged that the piece was rescued from the rubble by town resident Pavel Hodáĉ who pushed it in a wheelbarrow to his home in Almond Avenue after asking permission from the site workmen at the time.

The basin passed on to his son, Paul, who took it with him when he moved to Norfolk and it has been in safekeeping with the family for over 50 years.

It has now come back to the town after Paul got in touch with staff at the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum to arrange return of the important artefact.

Senior curator, Victoria Slade, said: “Leamington’s fame and fortune were built on the spa waters and the Aylesford Well played a crucial role in this.

“We are overjoyed that such an important piece of the town’s history has been returned home.”

Plans are now being made to put the basin on display in the museum, alongside the original pump handle from Aylesford’s Well.

The site of the once famous well outside the church is now marked by a sculpture representing the healing waters flowing from the earth.

See the stone basin at the museum, which is open inside the Pump Rooms, between 10.45am and 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 11am to 4pm on Sunday. Admission free.