Wednesday 10 October 2007

Warminster Athenaeum

The Warminster Athenaeum as portrayed in the London Illustrated News.


150 years ago today, the Warminster Athenaeum and Literary Institution, which was nearing completion, was featured in a supplement to the London Illustrated News.

Dated 10th October 1857, the Supplement featured the illustration above, and the accompanying article read:

"Warminster, in the county of Wilts, long famed for its corn market, is surrounded with striking scenery, and may be classed amongst the prettiest towns of England of its size. On the north and north-east it is bounded by that termination of extensive chalk range which bears the well-known name of the Wiltshire Downs, whence the prospect is extensive and interesting. On the south is seen a portion of that sylvan belt within which lie the parks and mansions of Longleat. On the west the horizon terminates in the vista of Lansdowne, near Bath. On the east there are rich and umbrageous woods and plantations backing up villages and hamlets, and south of this the undulating hills which tend to mark Dorsetshire."

"Within the last twenty years few places have made greater improvements than Warminster in its internal appearance. Many new and elegant buildings have been and are still being erected, the latest being the Athenaeum and Literary Institution. A suitable building for this purpose is in course of erection, on the sight [sic] of the old and well-known hotel and posting-house. The plan comprises a spacious reading-room and library, with offices beneath; living rooms for librarian; good class-rooms; and a large and handsome lecture-room, capable of seating 350 persons. The design is by Mr. W.I. Stent, architect, of Warminster, and the contract for the whole erection has been taken by Mr. Barnden, of Warminster, at a sum of £1325. The lecture-room is nearly completed, and will be used this winter."