The Ambitious Stonemason
(William Gascoyne’s rôle in the development of Royal Leamington Spa and a changing Construction Industry)
This is a new book by LHG member Kevin Hunt, who lives in the Willes Road house built and owned by William Gascoyne. It is a novel based on facts uncovered during Kevin’s extensive research into the life and times of the man who built much of 19th Century Leamington.
Kevin Hunt traces Gascoyne’s life, from his early days in Stony Stratford, his apprenticeship and life in the building trade, to active membership of the Leamington Board of Health and becoming a prominent and well-respected local businessman. William Gascoyne built the mansion that became Kingsley School, the flamboyant Harrington House, and other villas on Newbold Terrace, much of Binswood Avenue (Lillington Road end) and Villiers Street. He also transformed the Bedford Hotel for the Warwick and Leamington Bank and built St Peter’s Church on Dormer Place. The Salvation Army Citadel was the last of his legacy to the town. Sadly, as a result of financial difficulties, William Gascoyne was declared bankrupt in 1866 and had to resign his position as an Alderman. He moved to Beckenham in Kent, but never recovered his early prestige.
Kevin Hunt has drawn a fascinating portrait of this significant contributor to the life and times of Victorian Leamington, – he tells a very enjoyable story, with skill and sensitivity. It’s not hard for the reader to sympathise with William Gascoyne’s eventual plight.
The Ambitious Stonemason: William Gascoyne’s rôle in the development of Royal Leamington Spa and a changing Construction Industry. Kevin Hunt, November 2020.
Available to order from Amazon Books, in Paperback (£6.99) or on Kindle (1.99)