Dennise Robinson
Dennise Robinson - Author of Tunbridge Wells Life.

Explore Royal Tunbridge Wells

Explore Royal Tunbridge Wells


Tunbridge Wells is situated on the southern edge of the Weald, a line of chalk hills that runs from east to west through southern Britain. The area has always had some isolated pockets of settlement, but it was not until the 18th century that developments took place that would lay the foundations for what would become Tunbridge Wells. Road milestones show that from 1722 the main road between London and Hastings passed through Tunbridge, and the first recorded stagecoach ran between Tunbridge and Benenden in 1768.

The development of Tunbridge Wells into a town dates largely from the patronage of Ralph Rawson (1690-1766), a lawyer involved in the development of nearby Battle Abbey, Tunbridge Wells Life ( My earliest memories of High Rocks date to when I was about five years old in 1966, which was the year I acquired my first telescope (a 135mm AZ refractor on an alt-az mount) and, as so often happens with youngsters in that situation, my parents — in this particular case, my mother — being keen not to have her flower garden dug up or trampled by enthusiastic young astronomers, suggested that maybe we’d like to go up onto High Rocks.

I’d say that nearly every clear night between then and 1968 saw me dragging the 135mm refractor out of its little wooden box and me loading up the family Hillman Minx with Dad at the wheel and Mum in the front seat beside him commenting on. The Roman Road which runs through nearby Willesborough, now named Watling Street, may have been used by the Legions based at Dover during the invasion of Britain in AD 43 to suppress the Durotriges tribe living in this part of Southern England, and the settlement name "Lentunum" suggests an intermediate Roman army camp probably located near Springhead.

The village lay within the Anglo-Saxon administrative division of Tunbridge hundred. The Romans occupied the area and built roads through the Weald. Tunbridge Wells was garrisoned by the Romans but to some extent its iron industry was much expanded during this period.  The remains of a Roman villa have been excavated at West Peckham, and artefacts from this site go to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and another collection is held at Rochester Castle.

Other items go to the Tunbridge Wells Museum in Tunbridge Wells. A defensive earthwork was constructed high on the hillside above pools formed by springs, accessible only by rock-cut steps and a causeway. The hilltop enclosure measures approximately 50 m (165 ft) north-south and 6 m (20 ft) wide, and may have been used for religious ceremonies. Have a broken washing machine? Curious if your local council supplies and collects washing machines for recycling? Find out here.


By Royal Charter, the Sovereign holds a nominal change to the appointment of the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells. The Mayors duties include acting as Lord Lieutenant for both local government and ceremonial purposes, and presiding over Council meetings (often in the absence of the Chairman). Under the terms of the Local Government Act 1972, most of the powers once held by Royal charter have now passed to the Council: these include appointing the Highways Committee, dealing with planning applications, and council tax collection.

The Borough of Tunbridge Wells is the largest district in England to be served by a single town council. This is mainly due to the town's parochial origins, which have left most of the surrounding settlements in the district, such as Rusthall, Southborough and High Brooms with their own parish councils. Most civil parishes in England have been grouped together with a neighbouring parish into a single Unitary Authority (local authority). The borough was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells with several hundred acres of surrounding land which was formerly in the Wadhurst Rural District.

The new authority took its name from the historic Tunbridge Wells Borough, a local government district which had included the town since 1894 and also included the villages of Speldhurst, High Brooms and St. John's in the same east Kent locality. Royal Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is responsible for the leisure, non-trading side of life in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Its work is co-ordinated on a corporate basis by a Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee which meets at least monthly to ensure that all departments are working together.


The 2001 census revealed that the borough of Royal Tunbridge Wells has a higher proportion of Christians than the average for England (64. 3% against 59. 4%). The borough has a lower proportion of people with no religion (12. 4% against 24. 7%) and a higher proportion of Buddhists(2,585 or 4. 9% against 0. 8%). Royal Tunbridge Wells also has more Hindus, Sikhs and Jews than the national average, reflecting immigration to the United Kingdom from India, Pakistan and Southern Europe in the post-war period.

The main village and town centres are clustered close to each other with much of the surrounding land made up of large country estates and farms. The settlement dates from the Anglo Saxon era when a Tunni brook was crossed by a wagon trail that linked the high peat wolds of Kent with the coastal marshes and sand ridges of Sussex; as part of this historic woad trade or when used by travelling monks who stopped in villages along their route to Canterbury.

Royal Tunbridge Wells is a large affluent, affluent suburban town in East Sussex, South East England. The town is home to the Royal Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and a number of well-known (formerly) independent schools including Tonbridge, Tiffin, Benenden, Cranbrook and St Dunstan's. Historically, the borough has been a spa town on several occasions. In the 1600s both Tunbridge Wells and Tunbridge were full of wealthy tourists who came to take the waters from local springs.

Several members of parliament including Charles James Fox stayed in Tunbridge during this time. Population growth in the borough has occurred largely through natural population increase (93% of the growth) rather than from net migration (7%). The Clerk and Chief Executive are also members of the Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee. Have you ever wondered which local councils collect washing machines? Then here are the results. A common question: who collects washing machines in the UK?.


The town is divided into four main areas: the town centre, the north side, South Hollingbury and Pembury. The two main settlement clusters are separated by open land; the southern section of the town has developed as a contiguous urban area and remains physically contiguous with Pembury. Bridges connect each of the areas: Upper Bridge leads north to Kemsing and Brenchley, whilst Lower Bridge leads west to St Dunstan's and Wrotham. To the south-east lies Tunbridge Wells Common which is contiguous with Hawkhurst in Kent.

The remaining rural area to the south is known as The Barries and includes Furlongs, Speeds Wood and Romney Park Wood. The town was historically settled on dry fertile upland soil on a bed of Wealden gravel. The chalk geology can be seen in the upstanding hills to the south east of the town, which are the sandstone and limestone outcropping strata of the Hastings Beds, laid down under warm shallow seas between 90 and 150 million years ago.

In places near the towns of Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough these strata can be seen at roadcut exposures; together they comprise over 600m thickness of sedimentary rock. Geography has played a significant part in Tunbridge Wells'history. Tunbridge Wells lies in the sandstone of the Weald, a Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary deposit. The rock is honey-coloured i. Tunbridge Wells is the administrative centre of Tunbridge Wells Borough and the main commercial centre, together with High Brooms and Southborough.


Although the town was never named by the author, this passage strongly indicates that it takes place in Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain lived for a decade. This town clearly has some connection to Mark Twain’s youth. What brought us to believe this? The chalybeate spring which “darkens the water of the Mississippi River a mile below town and makes it look like iced tea” (1. 10) is a symbol of Hannibal and its importance to the early imagination of Samuel Clemens (Clemens later used this symbol in Life on the Mississippi.

Turning to other business, the town also has a sad story to tell of the economic decline of local industry. The economy of the town no longer depends on the chalybeate spring. Hardly anyone comes to the town purely to take the waters. But though the chalybeate spring is gone, there still remains plenty of what the landlord calls “blue grass” (which means easy money). And so, everybody in town is busy trying to get some of it.


The present road bridge, officially the Royal Tunbridge Wells Bridge, was opened in 1936 to connect the town with Merton Road and links to two of the three main routes into London: the A21 southbound to Sevenoaks and London Bridge and northbound to Tonbridge and Gatwick Airport; and the A22 leading east towards Petersfield, where it splits into three route options towards East Grinstead. The third route option is the A264 which branches off close to Gatwick Airport on the South Coast.

The A264 road runs into and out of town along the High Street and passes to the north of the town centre. To the east of the town, off the B2135 Pembury Road, is Bear Road and the old Westbere Road, which were turnpike roads in their time. The A267 to East Grinstead makes use of this road as a bypass with a junction with the A264 at Pevensey Close. From here to East Grinstead, this was the London to Hastings coaching route.

The principal road through Tunbridge Wells is the A26, which runs from Maidstone to Eastbourne. The A264, also from Maidstone, ends at the west end of the High Street; this is a route to Brighton via Hailsham and East Grinstead. At the east end of the High Street is the A267, a main road to Eastbourne via Uckfield. Transport. The transport infrastructure of the town can be broadly split into two categories: road and rail.

There are several major roads converging on the town from various directions, including the A2100 High Street, which travels northwards via Tonbridge to London. Despite being one of the largest towns in Kent, Tunbridge Wells has no nearby motorway access. The A21 passes to the east of the town, following the route of its turnpike ancestor, from London to Hastings. The chalybeate spring is no longer regarded as a remedy for rheumatism, gout, scurvy, or the diseases of the blood.


The eleven plus exam was introduced in 1944. Prior to this, only the ‘sons of gentlemen’ attended grammar schools and the working classes attended Secondary Modern schools. The 1944 Education Act meant that parents had a choice where they could send their children for secondary education. However, it also served to perpetuate the differences between the two school types – socially, culturally and academically. Last year 667 children sat the 11+ exam in Kent meaning they would then proceed on to one of the twenty grammar schools in the area, for many the first port of call.

For parents it’s nerve-wracking and uncertain and even when results come back, it’s still not clear where failed students will go next. What is selective education? Selective education is believed to give opportunities to talented students. These students will then get the opportunity to go to a Grammar School or one of the few schools that are left in Kent which are comprehensive. There are a number of advantages to the eleven plus exam. It allows the most able children the opportunity to be educated in grammar school and it gives those children from less privileged backgrounds a great chance at a better life.

Public Services

The Maidstone branch of the Kent, Strood and Thanet Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust provides mental health services for much of east Kent, including Swale and Dartford. It also takes referrals for much of west Kent including Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford and Thanet. Pegasus Health runs mental health services in the Maidstone area "in partnership" with the KPCTs. The town's main secondary schools are Maidstone Grammar School for Boys (MGS), and the all-girls Woodlands Academy.

MGS dates back to 1447. It was a boys-only school until 1970, with its female counterpart, Wyvil Girls'School in Mount Pleasant Avenue, closing in 1978. The University of Kent campus at Canterbury established a campus in Maidstone in 2001. There are several other colleges in Maidstone, including Strood College, and Tonbridge and Malling College runs courses for students from the town at its Tunbridge Wells campus. North Kent and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, based in Gravesend, is responsible for the Princess Royal Hospital at Newington, Maidstone General and Darent Valley hospitals.

The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, managed by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, is a large general hospital. It serves the town and much of eastern Kent. The number of pupils attending selective state schools in Kent has increased this year by 1 per cent. In 2014, 4,020 pupils were selected into grammar schools. Kent County Council is one of fifteen local authorities in the UK that still provides selective education through the eleven plus exam.

Parks And Landmarks

Ridgeway Walk        A section of the ancient Ridgeway footpath runs through the centre of Tunbridge Wells, starting near the Pantiles and the Stepping Stones overground station. The path, celebrated by local author Bill Bryson in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything, is now cut off several times a day by vehicles. Volunteers from a local group called Read (Ridgeway Environment and Development) have cleared obstructions at numerous points along the route.

The group is making it possible for people to walk from the Pantiles to Pembury. The path connects with another ancient trackway, which runs to Wadhurst, crossing Groombridge Place gardened land at Goudhurst on its way. The Pantiles, a shopping and cultural centre close to the High Street, was remodelled in the 1870s by Anthony Salvin and is home to a café and restaurants. The chalybeate spring, one of the most famous mineral wells in Europe, was relocated from its original site near the Pantiles to the footpath leading onto the Green following the construction of a new shopping arcade in 1888.

The chalybeate spring had made Royal Tunbridge Wells fashionable with sea-bathing patients for many years. A pump room was built above the well at its new location on the Green and continued to provide drinking water to Tunbridge Wells until 1948 via an underground pipe. The Pantiles, a shopping street of Georgian buildings, runs from the top of the hill down to the main town hall and market area. The building at one end was formerly used as a meeting place for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and is now home to Tunbridge Wells Central Library, which relocated from Southborough Road in June 2006.

There is a popular open air concert venue at the other end of the Pantiles which hosts regular concerts throughout the summer. Another landmark of the town is Loose Valley, a steep-sided valley running roughly south to north from the Pantiles to Dene Valley. The valley is partly wooded and retains the character of an ancient forest though it is largely treeless. It is crossed by several public rights of way, has a stream running down its centre and is bisected by the access road to the defunct Royal Tunbridge Wells Crematorium.

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A pay & display car park is located outside the building.    Royal Tunbridge Wells has world-famous chocolate-box architecture which combines the town centre with surrounding areas. The hub of this area is Royal Tunbridge Wells common, an area of open land about two miles in circumference, with villages radiating out towards Tonbridge, Pembury and Hastings. The local area has a population of around 70 000 but Greater London lies to the south and east allowing London commuters to escape to royal Tunbridge wells for both work and leisure.

Local newspapers include the Kentish Times (published by a subsidiary of the KM Group) in addition to the free Tunbridge Wells Extra, which comes out every Wednesday. The Kent Online website has a large presence in the town. There is no daily paper although it is possible to get an extract from The Times newspaper. However, in 1989, the BBC established a small television studio at the south end of town. Using a transmitter mast erected adjacent to the A264 highway, BBC South East produces a nightly news programme for the South East region.

There are several local newspapers circulating in Tunbridge Wells and its surrounds including the Kentish Express, West Kent Times (Sevenoaks), the Tunbridge Wells Extra, the Sevenoaks Chronicle, and the Kent and Sussex Courier. BBC South East produces various television programmes for the South of England. These include regional news service, Inside South East, a BBC Three magazine show, Explore Kent and Inside Out, a topical magazine programme. We need to make sure that does not happen because wallpaper contains paper, and we need it to be recycled.


The warmest month is July, with an average temperature range at Goudhurst of 13. 9°C 16. 6°C (57. 0°F 61. 9°F). However, Goudhurst's position in the foothills of the Weald means temperatures are often higher than in comparable towns and cities to the west, due to it being sheltered from the sea by the high chalk escarpment of the North Downs, meaning that average maximum temperatures are around 3°C (5. 4°F) warmer than Greenwich (averaging 16.

3°C (61. 3°F) over the last 30 years). Weather statistics from Goudhurst are recorded by the Met Office and distributed by the BBC under the name of " TQ ", as they are the closest official weather station for the area, being sited in a small town only 8. 5mi east of the centre of The Town itself. Median levels of annual sunshine significantly exceed the national average, ranging between 1,600 and 1,900 hours a year.

But the town’s private weather station shows a more extreme local climate, perhaps explaining Tunbridge Wells'surprising range of microclimates. For example, when nearby coastal weather stations have recorded their cloudiest ever day, Tunbridge Wells can be sunnier than areas 20 miles away. The Met Office defines this as a climate with four seasons of near-equal length, with differences between seasons generally gradual. In this region between three and five months have mean daily maximum temperatures below 10°C and between seven and nine months above 10°C.


In 1911, the Tunbridge Wells Motor Club was founded one of the oldest motor clubs in the UK that is still active. It is also perhaps the smallest, although its members claim this allows them to have a stronger community identity with many of their members having known each other for years or even decades. Founded by Percy Beach, who had previously competed in motor car trials and hillclimbs while living in Australia, there were originally only three members Beach himself, along with two friends who shared his ambition of competing in such events.

The first autotest organised by the club took place at East Peckham near Tonbridge on 26th June 1911 with over forty vehicles competing. This success led to an expansion of the club's activities which. MVfc wants to do the same, in a city with a surprising amount of car enthusiasts. Whilst we don’t have the famous hillclimb up through town and back down again like Goodwood, we do have plenty of contact between locals and regularly host social events such as pub meets and car shows.

The idea behind MVfc is to bring together some of these groups, our Community service and several local companies to improve their own sports sponsorship. Tunbridge Wells Motor Club (TWMC) is a British motor club which organises motorsport for members and the public at race tracks. It is one of the oldest motor clubs in the United Kingdom, founded as the Tunbridge Wells Motor Club in 1911. Weather statistics for Goudhurst are recorded at the Met Office weather station, about 8.


The Nevill Ground is a cricket ground in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. The ground's first recorded match was in 1847, when Tunbridge Wells played Royal Navy. Since then, the ground has played host to various domestic cricket matches and two Kent County Cricket Club first-class matches: the first in 1849 against an All-England Eleven and another in 1898 against Cambridge University. The Nevill Ground is a cricket ground in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The first recorded cricket match on the ground came in 1845, when the Gentlemen of Kent played the Gentlemen of Sussex.

This inaugural first-class match was also an historic occasion as it was the first time that cricket had been played at a Tunbridge Wells venue which was not nationally significant. Cricket has been played in Tonbridge since at least 1781, when the White Hart public house staged a match between the Prince of Wales Club XI and an England XI. The game moved to the present Nevill Ground in 1842, after the cricket club had received permission from Edward Tylee, owner of Nevill House.


The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon is an open road race that takes place every February, organised by the Tunbridge Wells Harriers running club. With over 3,000 runners taking part in 2012 and a maximum field of 4,500 runners, it’s the largest of its kind in Kent. There is also a weekly 5K Park Run that takes place in Dunorlan Park. Started in spring 2010 by Rory Coleman and Pete Lennard, it attracts over 400 runners every week of all ages and abilities who complete the course in around 30 minutes on an unlit route.

There are many local footpaths and bridleways used for walking, running and cycling. The Tunbridge Wells borough council have appointed a special officer the responsibility of managing and enhancing these paths. The Surrey & Sussex Watercress Trail also runs through the town and is popular with walkers, cyclists and horseriders alike. In the last decade or so, there has been a proliferation of running and health-related running clubs in the UK, some of which have become extremely large.

Indeed, the London Marathon is one such event that is run every year (except for when it is cancelled due to events outside organisers'control: 2012). The half marathon starts on the Promenade in front of the Royal Victoria Pavilion and goes past Westwood Cross, (where there are views of the castle). The route then leads into Trenchard Avenue, towards the Westwood Roundabout. You'll pass over the roundabout and then head down Herstmonceux Road.

Friday 26th February, 2018 marked an important date in the history of running in Tunbridge Wells. It was the first time that an attempt had been made at organising a half marathon within the local area and the Tunbridge Wells Harriers were responsible for promoting this event. 5 miles (14 km) to the east of the town centre. As Tunbridge Wells is only a few metres higher than this point, it is fairly representative of the area.