Visit Royal Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, is a “new” town in that there is nothing medieval here, or even Tudor, for this was only forest until Lord North discovered the chalybeate springs in 1606. He took the news of his discovery back to court and soon members of the royal family and the nobility were going to the springs to take the waters. But for the first 30 years there were no buildings, and royalty and courtiers alike camped out or lodged in the nearest towns. In the 1630s building began in earnest and by the end of the century Tunbridge Wells was a flourishing and fashionable spa, and remained so throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1735 came the famous Beau Nash from Bath, who, as Master of Ceremonies, virtually ran the social life of the town for many years.
Today Tunbridge Wells still thrives, but is in no way aggressively commercial; it retains much of the charm and taste for which it was so famous. The tranquillity of former years prevails in the best known of its areas, the Pantiles, a delightful, shaded walk lined with elegant shops.
The Pantiles was originally grassed and known as The Walks, and from early days was the fashionable promenade. In 1699 Princess (later Queen) Anne visited the spa with her son, the Duke of Gloucester; the young duke slipped and hurt himself walking there. The Princess complained and the town authorities promised to lay a paved walk, but this had not been done when she came the following year, and she left in a huff, vowing never to return. The town fathers quickly repaired their omission and paved The Walks with square pantiles. The Pantiles has been the name ever since. Only 15 of the original pantiles remain, near the springs in Bath Square.
But it did the town fathers no good as far as Queen Anne was concerned. She never returned.
Visitors to The Pantiles may still drink the medicinal waters from the springs.
Many gracious houses of the Georgian and Victorian periods remain, some set in magnificent gardens. Some are hotels; the Calverley Hotel was formerly Calverley House where the young Princess Victoria used to stay with her mother, the Duchess of Kent; she continued to visit Tunbridge Wells for some time after becoming queen.
The oldest church is that of St Charles the Martyr, built in 1678 and attaining its present form in 1696. Dedicated to Charles I, it is a plain, square building, but has a beautiful ornamental ceiling. There is a tablet let into the front of the north gallery marking the pew occupied by Princess Victoria between the years 1827 and 1834. Holy Trinity Church, consecrated in 1829, was the work of Decimus Burton, the noted architect of the period, who designed many of the houses of the town, including Calverley Park.
Tunbridge Wells is also a good centre for walks to such places as Rusthall with its strange sandstone rocks, including Toad Rock, a large outcrop shaped as its name suggests; and Happy Valley, also with unusual rock formations.
Nearby towns: Cranbrook, Crowborough, East Grinstead, Heathfield, Tonbridge
Nearby villages: Bells Yew Green, Etchingham, Frant, Groombridge, Pembury, Southborough, Speldhurst
Have you decided to visit Royal Tunbridge Wells or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Royal Tunbridge Wells bed and breakfast (a Royal Tunbridge Wells B&B or Royal Tunbridge Wells b and b)
- a Royal Tunbridge Wells guesthouse
- a Royal Tunbridge Wells hotel (or motel)
- a Royal Tunbridge Wells self-catering establishment, or
- other Royal Tunbridge Wells accommodation