Royal Tunbridge Wells

A Short Guide To Visiting Tunbridge Wells, What To See And Do In The Town

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.

The Wells

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.

Attractions In The Town

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.

More Tourist Information

  • Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information Centre
    The Old Fish Market
    The Pantiles
    Royal Tunbridge Wells TN2 5TN
  • 01892 515675

Feedback & Disclaimer

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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