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Sacred Springs

24 25 Often starting as recognised holy wells and springs, the spas of Britain developed at the end of the seventeenth century, reached popular heights in the middle of the eighteenth century and are still a very active industry today. The spas or spaws as they were also known were health resorts where the waters had proven mineral content and therapeutic value. The waters were chiefly iron bearing chalybeate, sulphurous, effervescent or saline. Sometimes an area possessed a variety of waters, each used to cure specific conditions. At their height spas were visited not only for their waters and fresh country air, but also for the lively social life of gaming houses, inns, music and dancing which they offered. Many spas closed as the Health Service developed but there are hopes some may yet be revived. Droitwich Spa is still being used for its original purpose. The saturated brine waters are rivalled only by the Dead Sea and are used for weightless bathing, which is particularly effective for rheumatic conditions. Spa towns to visit, where the waters may still be sampled, include elegant Royal Tunbridge Wells, with its handsome Pantiles area, Harrogate, Strathpeffer, Royal Leamington Spa, Buxton, historic Bath and Malvern. At Cheltenham the quality of the spring water was recognised because of all the healthy pigeons in the area. The earlier name of the spa town of Llandrindod Wells was ffynnon llwyn y gog, meaning the well in the cuckoos grove. SPAS centres for water treatment
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