Harrogate (North Yorkshire) Elizabeth Gaskell
Harrogate (North Yorkshire) , Harrogate


Harrogate is a town and historically popular spa resort in North Yorkshire, to the east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In the Georgian era, the town became known as the ‘English Spa’ due to the discovery of sulphur rich spring water, leading to the emergence of the town as a holiday resort. Today it is known as Europe’s strongest sulphur well, and tourists can visit the Royal Pump Room Museum to see (and smell) the exhibits. Nearby are several moors including Ingetherthorpe Moor and Abbey Moor with several walks that will take you out of the city and into the beautiful countryside.

Gothic heritage

Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell wrote many novels and short stories, and her Gothic ghost stories were especially popular. Serialised in three parts in 1856, “The Poor Clare” was published in Charles Dicken’s magazine Household Words and features a narrator who travels to Harrogate for a holiday:

“In those days, there was one large, rambling inn, at Harrogate, close to the Medicinal Spring; but it was already becoming too small for the accommodation of the influx of visitors, and many lodged round about, in the farm-houses of the district. It was so early in the season, that I had the inn pretty much to myself; and, indeed, felt rather like a visitor in a private house, so intimate had the landlord and landlady become with me during my long illness. She would chide me for being out so late on the moors, or for having been too long without food, quite in a motherly way; while he consulted me about vintages and wines, and taught me many a Yorkshire wrinkle about horses.  In my walks I met other strangers from time to time.”

Gaskell’s narrator is taking a break from investigating Bridget Fitzgerald in relation to a potential inheritance. In Harrogate he meets Lucy, who turns out to be Bridget’s own granddaughter, but also the daughter of the man she cursed (see ‘The Trough of Bowland’). The narrator witnesses the results of this curse first-hand as on the Harrogate moors he first sees Lucy’s demonic double.

Other Literary heritage

Further information

Along with the Royal Pump Room, other tourist attractions in Harrogate include the Royal Baths and Royal Hall. The town is also home to the Mercer Art Gallery, and the Valley Gardens which is Harrogate’s main park. 3 miles from Harrogate is Ripley Castle and grounds, which can be viewed by Guided Tour.

Interesting fact

After Agatha Christie’s infamous disappearance, she was discovered in Harrogate where she had been living under an assumed name in a spa hotel.

For Visitors

You can find more information about visiting Harrogate at the following links: