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Random Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Harrogate

By wizu | 12 January 2022

History is a city filled with overflowing with history! So, you know there are some amazing stories the city could share.

We’ve put together a list of facts you probably haven’t heard about Harrogate! Read on to learn more about this amazing and some facts that will help when you play trivia games!


1. Harrogate Was Named the World’s Most Romantic Destination

It’s true! Back in 2013, Harrogate beat out Paris, Rome, and Vienna as the world’s most romantic destinations!


2. How Did Harrogate Get Its Name? 

The name “Harrogate” was first recorded back in the 1330s as Harwegate, Harougat, and Harrowgate. However, the origin of the name remains a mystery. It’s thought the name could come from the Old Norse word for “a heap of stones, cairn” + the word for “street.” In that case, the city’s name could be literally translated as “the way to Harlow.”


3. Why Was Harrogate Established? 

The city was established due to the discovery of chalybeate and its sulphur-rich spring water back in the 16th century. The first mineral spring was discovered in 1571. Over time, more springs were discovered, which led to many visitors coming to enjoy the waters.

The result was more inns, and other facilities were needed to accommodate these visitors and provide services.


4. Harrogate Was Voted the Happiest Place to Live Three Times

If you live in the city, then you understand all it has to offer. Harrogate is a wonderful city! It was awarded the title “The Happiest Place to Live” by Rightmove. From there, the spa town was chosen two more times!

Rightmove used surveys to ask participants how they felt about Harrogate. The third survey had 24,000 participants who said they were happy to live in Harrogate!


5. Charles Dickens Was Here

Charles Dickens visited Harrogate in 1858. It seems he was as happy or impressed as the people who live there today. He made the comment that the city was “the queerest place with the strangest people in it leading the oddest lives…”

His comment makes you wonder what he observed and experienced during the visit to Harrogate!


6. Betty’s is the Best

Harrogate has some great tea rooms that offer the best Yorkshire products around! However, one of the best places is Betty’s, which is located in the heart of the city. You’ll always find the place packed with tourists, which means locals have a hard time getting in!

What’s more, the establishment was started by a Swiss baker and confectioner named Fritz Butzer. He was trained in Europe and moved to Bradford, where he worked at a Swiss-owned confectioner’s shop. From there, he moved to Harrogate and changed his name to Frederick Belmont, and then married the landlady’s daughter!

Betty’s was established back in 1919 and has been going strong ever since. You might want to try their “Fat Rascal” scones, which are decorated with a cherry and almond face.


7. Thomas the Baker Sausage Rolls are the Best

Thomas the Baker sausage rolls (and other products) are some of the best in Yorkshire! You’ll never go back to other bakers in the city once you’ve tried Thomas’ sausage rolls or a slice of Yorkshire pizza!


8. Harrogate Once Hosted the Eurovision Song Contest

Yes, you read that correctly! The city hosted the 27th Eurovision Song Contest back in 1982. The event was hosted by Jan Leeming. Germany was crowned the winner, while Great Britain finished in 7th place.


9. Agatha Christie Was Missing

Back in 1926, Agatha Christie happened to go missing, which set off a nationwide hunt to find her! Where was she finally found after eleven days? At Harrogate!

She was finally found at the Old Swan Hotel. Her excuse for going missing? She claimed she was suffering from amnesia!


10. Harrogate Used to be Two Villages

In the 17th century, Harrogate was once two separate villages. One was called High Harrogate, and the other was Low Harrogate.

Eventually, the two villages grew together with the discovery of 88 springs, which brought in more visitors.


11. The Country’s Last Working Turkish Bath is in Harrogate

Harrogate has another great distinction—it has the country’s last working Turkish bath! The baths were quite common in Victorian times; however, today, only seven remain. These baths date back to the 19th century.


12. The Town was Called the English Spa

Harrogate spring water is rich in iron, sulphur, and salt. The town was called “The English Spa” during Georgian times after the waters were discovered in the 1500s.


13. Inventor Lit and Heated Town

Back in 1870, an inventor by the name of Samson Fox was working on a method to create water gas. He worked in the basement lab at Grove House. He created a trial plant at his home on Skipton Road. Fox’s home was the first house in Yorkshire to have gas lighting and heating.

From there, Fox developed a system for the entire city. He made the newspapers, which said, “Samson Fox has captured the sunlight for Harrogate.”


14. Pateley Bridge Has the World’s Oldest Sweet Shop

The shop first opened back in 1827 and is still going great! What’s more, the fact that this is the oldest sweet shop in the world is confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records.

If you visit the shop, you’ll see more than 200 jars of sweets available! Some of these are still made with recipes dating from the 19th century!


15. The City’s Filled with Amazing Architecture

Harrogate is filled with plenty of brilliant architecture. One of the most popular is the grade I St. Wilfrid building, located on Duchy Road. The building was designed by Lushington Moore and is considered his great masterpiece.

Another wonderful building is the grade 2 building called the Royal Hall theatre. This building was designed by Frank Matcham. This is a royal heritage building that was redesigned and opened as a museum.


16. Harrogate Has Great Gardens and Parks

The city is filled with beautiful gardens and parks. For instance, the Valley Gardens now sit in an area that was once called “Bogs Field.” Several springs also live in this garden, and they have a great children’s play area, skate park, mini and crazy gold, and more.


17. The Old Swan Hotel

This building, located in the heart of Harrogate, is listed as a grade 2 building and was requisitioned at the start of WWII by the Ministry of Aircraft Production

The hotel is a beautiful combination of contemporary and Victorian styles. The Old Swan Hotel is surrounded by gardens with beautiful green grass.


18. Harrogate Has Plenty of Culture

The Harrogate Theatre was built in 1900; however, at the time, it was called the Harrogate Grand Opera House. The first event was a charity gala given with the help of British soldiers who fought in the Boer fight.

In 1966, the Harrogate Festival of Arts and Science was formed and is now called the Harrogate International Festivals.

The city also hosts international festivals and other events, including Harrogate International Spring Series, Rawthorth, Harrogate literature festival, and more. The festival runs a community outreach program and includes music, literacy, and art programs.


Things to Do in Harrogate

In this section, we’ll take a look at what the city has to offer when you need something to do!


Visit a Spa

Why not enjoy a relaxing, luxurious trip to a spa in the city? Harrogate is famous for being a spa town due to all of its many springs. The springs are believed to contain water that has healing powers due to the minerals in the water.

The spring with the highest concentration of sulphur is the Royal Pump Room Museum!


Play Some Golf

Harrogate is also home to the Harrogate Golf Club, which was established in 1892. It’s believed this is the oldest golf course in Yorkshire.


Summing It Up

Harrogate is a splendid city, which has many tales to tell. When it comes to history, there’s plenty to see and do here, with so many historical buildings and more.

There’s always something to learn about this beautiful city in the heart of Yorkshire! And if you are looking for workspace in Harrogate, be sure to check out what we have to offer!

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