Stories behind historic Kenilworth houses published in new book

Two life-long Kenilworth residents and friends have published a book on the history of two historic houses of Kenilworth.

Graham Gould and Peter James have jointly authored the book entitled “Hill House and Rosemary: Two Kenilworth Houses.”

The book chronicles the history of the site on Upper Rosemary Hill featuring two large houses called Hill House and Rosemary.

Both properties date back to the 1600s, but not in their present form. The book took lots of research, which included finding the deeds to the properties.

Mr Gould said: “What we’re trying to do is record important parts of Kenilworth’s history. If we don’t document these properties the history of Kenilworth, that includes these houses gets lost.”

The book tells the story of the site on Upper Rosemary Hill where in 1825 William Ryley, a Coventry watchmaker, built his retirement home. After his daughter inherited the site it was slowly developed over the next 150 years and now holds seven separate dwellings.

Peter James and Graham Gould with their new book in front of Hill House

Peter James and Graham Gould with their new book in front of Hill House

Mr James said: “Rosemary was more interesting because it goes back further and there’s been interesting people living there, including a local artist, Phillip Cormouls.”

He added: “The main value of the houses are what they represent in the overall history of Kenilworth. This story is a good illustration of the ‘colonisation’ of Kenilworth by monied incomers during the Victorian/Edwardian period that resulted in the erection of many of Kenilworth’s big houses – most now demolished or re-developed.”

The two friends have written over a half dozen books together all on historical places in Kenilworth.

Mr Gould said: “Peter’s family and mine go back many generations in Kenilworth and Peter actually lived not far from here.”

Peter James and Graham Gould in front of Hill House in Kenilworth

Peter James and Graham Gould in front of Hill House in Kenilworth

Mr James added: “I live in a house here in Kenilworth that dates back to 1560.”

The new book will go on sale during national Small Press Day event held at the Kenilworth Books shop in Talisman Square tomorrow (Saturday July 13).

Mr Gould added: “We don’t do it for the money. It’s recording the history of Kenilworth.”

Robin Leach, a published Kenilworth historian, will also be at the book shop selling signed copies of his books about the history of the town.

One of his books Victorian Kenilworth & its People, which will be on sale at a discount during the event, tells the story of how during Queen Victoria’s reign, Kenilworth was transformed from a farming village into a small industrial town.