Rosemary Hill – Then & Now

Rosemary Hill and the Milliners
Rosemary Hill and the Milliners

This then and now view shows Rosemary Hill looking towards Bridge Street.

According to Helen Scott & Richard Storey in ‘A Second Kenilworth Collection’ (Odibourne Press, 1988) the elegantly gabled building shown (centre) was a millinery shop that once stood at the corner of School Lane and Rosemary Hill.  It was demolished for road widening to improve access to School Lane. Harry Sunley records in ‘A Kenilworth Chronology’ (Odibourne Press, 1989) that numbers 58 – 60 Rosemary Hill were demolished around 1920, which presumably relates to the demolished millinery shop.

This map from 1906 shows the extent to which the millinery shop narrowed the entrance to School Lane.

Map of School Lane and Rosemary Hill, 1906
Map of School Lane and Rosemary Hill, 1906

Directly behind the millinery shop, on the other side of the entrance to School Lane, is the sandstone Number 2, Bridge Street which has at various times been used as a market house and town gaol, before becoming the private residence it is today.

It is noticeable that the left hand side of the two pictures differ quite substantially. As this poem relating to Kenilworth at the turn of the century describes, Rosemary Hill was narrow and dark. This helps us date the ‘then’ picture as having been taken prior to road widening works carried out to the upper portions of the hill. Robin Leach tells us in Kenilworth People & Places – Volume 1 (Rookfield Publications, 2011) that this road widening work was embarked upon following a couple of small land slips from the embankment at the top of the hill in late 1912 and early 1913. Also, in the distance, the avenue of lime trees leading up to St Nicholas’ church has been planted, which means that it must be post 1904.

The gate on the extreme right of the images leads to 6a and 6b Rosemary Hill, next door to the former Rosemary Hill Chapel (now Priory Theatre) which, since the 19th Century, have been known as the Chapel Yard. For a fuller account of the history of this area, see Val Millman’s book Chapel Yard: Cottages and Gardens, Owners and Occupants, 1780 – 2015 (Dr V.E Millman, 2015).

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional dating information for the ‘then’ photo.

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Rosemary Mews, School Lane – Then & Now

Rosemary Mews
Rosemary Mews

This pair of Then & Now photos shows a small factory on the south side of School Lane, where Rosemary Mews is now situated.

According to A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names – Third Edition by Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton (Rookfield Publications, 2015) Rosemary Mews was developed in 1987 on the site of 1880s workshops, later used for light industry.

Robin Leach’s book Kenilworth’s  Engineering  Age (Rookfield Publications, 1995) informs us that the site used to be Dunn’s comb factory in the early-mid Victorian years. Rosemary Mews incorporates part of the former light industrial buildings.

The corner plot behind became vacant following the demolition of a former millinery shop on the corner of School Lane and Rosemary Hill to widen the entrance into School Lane itself.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo. Thanks also to Robin Leach for additional information for this article.

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Noah’s Ark – Then & Now

Noah's Ark, School Lane
Noah’s Ark, School Lane

This characterful property, known locally as Noah’s Ark, was situated at 95 – 99 School Lane. It was an 18th century building with a distinctive mansard roof; a roof with sloping sides, each of which becomes steeper halfway down.

This row of houses sat at ninety degrees to School Lane, with the lower end butting up against the Mill Brook. This evidently caused the cellars to be very damp and to flood every spring as described by a KWN reader whose grandmother lived in the property up until 1964. The following map shows the course of the mill brook, now filled in, the proximity of which to Noah’s Ark (circled in red) which explains the flooding!:

Map of School Lane showing Noah's Ark (ringed)
Map of School Lane showing Noah’s Ark (ringed)

Noah’s Ark gave its name to Noah’s Ark allotments across the road between School Lane and Albion Street and later the 1920s Noah’s Ark housing scheme that became Hyde Road and its surrounding areas, built for ex-servicemen returning from WWI.

The club shown on the map above was the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers (NFDDSS) club that became first British Legion Club. It was made from army huts, convenient for all the ex-servicemen in Hyde Road.

Noah’s Ark was demolished in 1965 for the housing shown here. Had it survived today, the School Lane Fish & Chip Shop would have stood to its immediate right as viewed from the road.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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Old Farmhouse on School Lane – Then & Now

Old House School Lane 1964
Old farmhouse on School Lane, 1964

By the mid-1960s the demolition of what were seen as damp and draughty old half-timbered buildings was in full swing. A nation only recently emerging from rationing and austerity was embracing modernity with an alarming disregard for heritage. This then and now pairing shows a ramshackle old farmhouse on School Lane which was swept away in May 1966 in favour of a residential apartment block called Prescelly Court.

According to John Drew in A Manor of the King (The Pleasaunce Press, 1971) “the left hand portion of the house, with its refaced front, was an earlier farm house. The joint building was L-shaped and the rear walls contained a considerable amount of timber framing”.


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