Then & Now

Abbey Hill – Then & Now

Abbey Hill
Abbey Hill

This Then & Now image is taken from Upper Rosemary Hill and shows the Abbey Hotel which stands at the junction of Priory Road, Abbey Hill and Rosemary Hill. Very little appears to have changed in the two scenes, but there are some vital clues in the ‘then’ image which allow us to provide some loose dates for it.

Firstly, according to A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names (Rookfield Publications, 2015) by Robin D Leach & Geoff Hilton, Priory Road was not driven through until 1885 to connect the station to the High Street end of town. This necessitated demolition of the part of the old Bowling Green Hotel which stood where the mouth of Priory Road is now situated.

Another Robin Leach book, this time Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) tells us that the remaining part of the old Bowling Green Hotel was demolished in 1886 and the new Abbey Hotel was built in its place.

The last remaining clue is the alignment of the Abbey Fields retaining wall on the right of the picture, which in the ‘then’ image cuts into the centre of the image much more than in the ’now’ equivalent. Again, one of Robin’s books gives us a date for when the corner was cut back to ease the passage of busses, a subject covered in his recent Abbey Fields talk to KHAS members. In his authoritative book The Abbey Fields (Rookfield Publications, 2017) he dates this work as having been approved and presumably carried out in 1939 with the Abbey Hill bus shelter being added in 1951.

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