Then & Now

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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