In addition to the aforementioned topographical links, the site also has several historic associations with neighbouring properties. Overlooking the site from the south, on the slopes of Ilkley Moor, stands White Wells, the ancient spring which ultimately gave rise to Ikley's status as a spa town, and to the proliferation of 'hydros' offering hydropathic (water bathing) treatments over the 19th and early 20th centuries.
One such former hydro is the architecturally splendid Wells House, standing in grounds immediately adjacent to the western boundary of the site, which is currently occupied by the Ilkley Campus of Bradford & Ilkley Community College. An annex to the college is accomodated in an imposing Victorian house currently known as 'Hillside', in which Charles Darwin and his family resided whilst he received treatment at Wells House, and which overlooks the site on its eastern side.
Darwin paid several visits to Ilkley for hydropathic treatment, and had a protracted stay here over the crucial period of final proofing, publication and critical reviews of his book 'The Origin of Species' - a particularly crucial phase of his life, accompanied by much important correspondence. The site of the proposed 'Darwin Gardens' is in full view from 'Hillside', and Darwin would have crossed or passed by the site regularly on his visits to and from the hydro.
[NB: As B&ICC will probably vacate 'Hillside' in the near future, it has been suggested that part of the building might subsequently be utilised as a museum and study centre to feature both Darwin's connections with Ilkley, and the history of hydropathic treatments, (in which there is a significant recent revival of interest as an effective form of therapy). Whilst this proposal is not part of the Darwin Gardens scheme, there could be links between them, particularly as a result of some of the proposed features described below.]
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