Carol Circuit’s Leamington Mystery


A few years ago I made a most extraordinary discovery and Leamington Spa is at the heart of this find. When I accepted a commission to reupholster a Victorian chaise longue, I expected to find the traditional stuffing of horsehair inside. Instead I found a cache of artefacts dating from theVictorian period, including a name and address – Miss Smith of Russell Terrace, Leamington Spa. Miss Sarah Henrietta Haynes Smith was born in Evesham in1848 and moved to Leamington with her parents, Charles and Sarah, in 1861. She had a brother, William Borthwick Smith, who moved to Coventry in the 1860s, where he worked as a watch manufacturer alongside his uncle, John Ryley.Other partnerships of his included work with James Starley  (of Smith and Starley) designing and making sewing machines, bicycles and roller skates, and an association with another uncle, Henry Haynes (of Haynes and Jefferis) for the manufacture of bicycles. In the 1880s, William moved to London, where he married Charlotte Marchant Oliver, and adopted a daughter, Dora Lilian. He moved subsequently first to Essex, and then to Hampshire.

A cotton lacy cap of a type often worn indoors by married women in Victorian times - one of the items found in the cache.

A cotton lacy cap of a type often worn indoors by married women in Victorian times – one of the items found in the cache.

Miss Smith’s mother’s family lived in Haselor where her grand-father, John Benton Haynes, was a farmer, but I believe other members of the Haynes family also moved to Leamington. Miss Smith had a number of cousins living nearby in the town,and a general domestic servant named Ethel May Wallington who was with her for many years and became a friend.

As was usual at the time amongst families of good standing, Miss Smith had a connection to at least two charities, – The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and The Universities Mission to Central Africa.Miss Smith’s final home in Leamington was at 3 Church Street, which was at the the also the address of two further charitable organisations, the Girls Friendly Society Lodge and the Home of Rest for Girls.

If anyone has any information at all about any of the above people or organisations I would be very pleased to hear from you


Carol Circuit

This article was taken from our Newsletter Winter 2012