The Kent Website since 1999
Tunbridge Wells is an attraction in itself and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in West Kent. We welcome your feedback about the town or its many attractions. Our contact details are at the bottom of the page. For more suggestions of places to visit in and around the area check out our Discover Kent page.
Tunbridge Wells as we know it today owes its existence to Dudley Lord North. The town was not an ancient settlement of any significance so unlike many other European Spa towns has no specific Roman or medieval heritage. There are signs of settlement in the area and the area was part of the Weald iron industry.
Lord North stopped at the chalybeate springs in 1606 when on a trip from London. So refreshed did he feel after sampling the iron rich water that he pronounced that the spring had health giving properties. The word spread amongst the nobility of the day and before long the local landowner Lord Abergavenny had paved the area around the springs to best cope with the increasing number of visitors.
As the popularity of 'The Wells' grew it was visited by Queen Henrietta (the mother of King Charles II), Queen Anne, the young Queen Victoria, Samuel Pepys and William Thackeray.
The royal visits raised the profile of the springs and soon guesthouses and other buildings were built to provide for the people who came to the wells for the season. At this time the town was known as Tonbridge Wells and it was only later changed to Tunbridge Wells as the town grew, to avoid confusion and to distinguish it from the nearby town of Tonbridge.
An arcade of shops called the Pantiles were built near the wells in the 17th century to serve the numerous visitors and from 1735 the famous Beau Nash was Master of Ceremonies at the wells. The popularity of the place as a spa town continued during the eighteenth and nineteenth century and the town continued to expand. It was granted its "Royal" prefix by Edward VII in 1909.
The Chalybeate spring still flows today and its waters can still be taken in the 'traditional' manner in the summer months.
The Pantiles is the historic heart of the modern town and the colonnaded walkways are full of art galleries, boutiques and any number of genteel shops in keeping with the character of the area. The town is a regional shopping centre and features many modern, stores, restaurants, bars and other amenities.
The Pantiles and the spring are still a magnet for the town's tourists. Other attractions for residents and visitors alike include the Millennium Clock designed by Jon Mills for the Millennium. The Salomons Museum is a local landmark. The area is well served by parks and green spaces including: Rusthall Common, Wellington Rocks, Calverley Grounds, Dunorlan Park and the Grosvenor recreation ground.
Our content is checked regularly but if you find any error or omission let us know.We welcome feedback, If you'd like to recommend an attraction drop us a line with 'Discover Kent' in the email title.
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Something for everyone
Kent is as beautiful as it is diverse, within its boundaries there exists a rich range of things to do and places to see. Outstanding natural beauty, a rich history, sites of world wide cultural and religious importance, sensational beaches, ancient woodlands, the list is endless. The point being; if you are looking for a day out Kent can offer something to suit every pocket and taste.
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This feature has been checked and edited but if you feel there is an error or omission let us know.In common with all our pages, this is a feature under development, changes will occur from time to time. We take care over our content but we're happy to correct errors, please see our disclaimer. If you wish to suggest somewhere worth visiting in Kent please let us know.
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This is a website formed, produced and published in Kent. By endorsing any one of the features in this section you will draw the attention of our audience to somewhere well worth a visit. In this way you can play a part in promoting the best Kent has to offer. We welcome feedback on all local tourism issues not just those connected to places to visit.