Vintage Yew-wood Long Bow by Bown, Leamington Spa.

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Object Description

A very good laminated archery yew-wood bow produced by Mr. Bown, the bowmaker from Leamington Spa. The bow is fitted with horn nocks, green fabric handle with a mother – of – pearl arrow plate (sometimes called an Arrow Pass). Just above the grip is the makers name ‘Bown, Leamington’ and below the number 49, indicating the draw weight of this bow in lbs.
A good strong bow in original condition with bow cord.

extract taken from The Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes, Archery (first edition published September 1896)


This was the first public meeting started after the Grand National. Three consecutive Grand Nationals were held at Leamington in 1851-53, and Mr. N. Merridew, who had acted as local hon. secretary to these meetings, determined to hold an archery meeting at Leamington in 1854, and en- deavoured to obtain local support. In this he seems to have failed, and he started the meetings as more or less a speculation, which succeeded, as they have gone on ever since. Mr. Merridew continued as secretary till 1870, when he was succeeded by Mr. Bown, the bowmaker in Leamington, who carried them on till 1884 (the amount of the prizes depending on the number of entries), when he resigned the secretaryship, and the meeting lost its proprietary character, having been since managed more in harmony with the other meetings.

Taken from website of Royal Leamington Spa Archery Society

We don’t have a lot of information about early Leamington archery societies as our only surviving club records date from when the Society was restarted after the Second World War. However it is known that archery was well established in Leamington by 1833 when plans were drawn up for Newbold Gardens, later known as Jephson Gardens, as they specifically included an area for archery. Several engravings and early photographs show archery being practiced in Jephson Gardens.

Another early venue was Parr and Wisden’s Cricket Ground, named after the proprietors, George Parr and John Wisden. Most of this area has now been built on although part still exists as Victoria Gardens. Archery Road was part of the development which occurred around the 1880’s. The first notable Archery contest held in Leamington, the 1851 Grand National Archery Meeting, was held on Parr and Wisden’s ground.

Also in 1851 it was proposed by Mr Bown to form a new archery club, to be known as the ‘Royal Leamington Archers’ and the following year they held their ‘First Annual Meeting’ on Parr & Wisden’s Cricket Ground on 15th June. One of the prizes, a silver arrow, was won by Mrs James Sharp along with the title ‘Lady Chief for the Season’.

Archery has been associated with Leamington for a very long time. It is known that the sport was practised as early as 1834 on Newbold Archery Ground, now part of Jephson Gardens, a public park near the centre of the town. The Grand National Archery Meeting, the first of which was held in 1844, was held in Leamington in 1851 (see 1851 Report), and it was in combination with that meeting that a regular Midlands event was established.
The Leamington and Midland Counties is thus the second longest established fixture in the archery calendar, and it has been held in Leamington for most of its history of over a century and a half. Until 1885 it was organised by Mr. Henry Bown. He gave it up in that year, following which an organising committee was formed, chaired by the Mayor of Leamington.

Object Details

  • material
  • dimensions
    W:4 x H:186 x D:4 centimeters
  • period
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